On a full count, with the tying run at the plate and two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Virginia Tech reliever Jonah Hurney got Virginia right fielder Casey Saucke swinging to seal the deal on a 12-10 win after the Hokies allowed four runs in the top of the ninth.
The victory, Tech’s 16th overall and fourth in conference play, was much needed, and the Hokies' offense was the main reason why Tech was able to take the middle game against a red hot, fifth-ranked Virginia team that had won seven-straight games prior to this one.
Tech’s 12 runs were the most any team has put up on the Hoos in 2023, and the most the Hokies have scored versus their in-state rivals since the ACC championship game in 2013.
Ironically, VT’s big day in which it tagged Virginia for three runs in each of the opening three innings was on Cavaliers southpaw Connelly Early, who came into the game as one of the best pitchers in the nation bringing an undefeated record with him.
Unfortunately for Early, he would pick up his first loss in a game that was about as loud as you get in college baseball.
English Field was jam packed with a sellout crowd that players and coaches felt rivaled the regional and super regional hosted in Blacksburg last spring.
“It was a really good night for college baseball,” said VT head coach John Szefc.
“That crowd was as good as it gets,” said Jack Hurley after the game. “We rallied around them early, we had that big start…total advantage for us, it’s intimidating…”
Hurley in particular stood out on Saturday night, going four-for-five at the dish with a first inning long ball, in addition to five runs driven in.
The lineup itself was brilliant, and credit to Szefc, as he made several changes. Slugging outfielder Carson Jones hit leadoff, catcher Brody Donay was in the five hole after an impressive stretch, and Chris Sparber, who came into the day with just 12 at bats on the season, slotted in at DH.
That may have also been due to Chris Cannizzaro’s bone bruise on his right hand, regardless though, the shuffle paid off.
“We just try to mix some things up…Carson Jones has been one of our better players lately, he’s on base a ton. And I give [Kurt] Elbin credit for that, he kind of floated some ideas out there…and I think they worked,” said Szefc on the lineup shakeup.
Two standouts this weekend have been freshman first baseman Garrett Michel and Donay, as they brought in a total four runs on Saturday night.
Michel started out his night poorly, striking out twice, before hitting a home run and double in his next two at bats to help the Hokies pile on some runs.
“First couple of at bats I was in between pitches…it was a matter of just sitting on a pitch, being committed to that at bat, and just focusing on that,” said the freshman slugger on what worked after a slow start.
On the defensive side of things, Griffin Green got the ball for Tech today in his second straight Saturday start, and battled, which his teammates credited him for, prior to being taken out after 4.1 innings pitched.
His final line ended up being 10 hits, six earned runs, and a single strikeout, but against that UVA lineup, every at bat is a struggle.
After two weeks off, Henry Weycker came in to relieve Green, tossing 1.2 and allowing just two baserunners, as he picked up his third victory of the season.
Brady Kirtner attempted to close the game out, but after two solid innings, the righty allowed four runs to cross the plate in the ninth, forcing Szefc and company to pull the plug, and give Hurney the ball, closing the game at 12-10.
Following the massive victory over a top five team in the country, Tech has a chance to gain momentum and take its first ACC series of the year Sunday at 1. Anthony Arguellas is expected to get the nod for the Hokies.