It didn’t take long for the scoring to start in Virginia Tech’s 19-3 win over Dayton Wednesday at English Field. Dayton's leadoff batter Mitchell Garrity hit a home run in the top of the first inning to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
But Hokies starter Dylan Hall handled it well.
“It’s obviously a tough night to pitch and as good a night as that was for us offensively, it all starts on the mound,” head coach John Szefc said of Hall’s performance. “He goes out and gives up a home run to the first batter. He recovered quicky and we played good defense behind him for the most part.”
Virginia Tech scored 19 runs off of 15 hits on Wednesday, but Hall was the star of the show. The sophomore from Stafford, Virginia set a career-high with seven strikeouts against Dayton. He finished the night after pitching six innings, giving up just two runs on four hits.
With the windy conditions in Blacksburg, Hall had to make some adjustments in order to keep Dayton from getting ahead.
“Definitely try to keep the ball on the ground. Try to limit hard contact as much as possible,” Hall said of his game plan heading into Wednesday’s start. “I thought I just did a good job of getting ahead. Just locating the fastball and changeups was good tonight too.”
While Hall had a terrific performance, the Hokies’ offense showed up more than they have all season. JD Mundy got the first three runs on the board for Tech in the bottom of the first with a home run that score Joe Freiday, Jr. and Jack Owens. Virginia Tech struck again in the bottom of the second when Jack Owens, Tom Stoffel and Joe Freiday all homered to put Tech up 7-1.
The Hokies scored in every inning except for the fourth and eighth, including a seven-run sixth inning that saw the team bat through the order.
Szefc was happy with his team’s at bats, giving high praise to his lineup.
“They were pretty competitive throughout,” Szefc said. “A guy like Jack Owens does what a leadoff hitter is supposed to do. He’s 4-for-4, he’s on base six times. That kind of sets the table for your offense.”
The middle three hitters for Tech had great nights as well, as Freiday, Mundy and Fragale went a combined 7-for-14 on the night.
“We had some guys in the middle of the lineup give us some big swings and drive in some runs,” Szefc said. “That’s kind of their job, wind or no wind. When you’re working to put up big innings like we’re trying to do, and I don’t know how many times we did it, we did it quite a few times, you kind of set the table early on in the game like that, and it just gives your pitcher a little bit of comfort to work.”
One of the areas of the Hokies’ game that Szefc has been wanting to improve this season is hitting with runners in scoring position. Tech went 7-for-18 in those situations on Wednesday.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction and if nothing else, it gets us out of here feeling good about ourselves going into a big weekend in Charlottesville,” Szefc said. “It’s a very mental game and you want to always try to be in a position where guys mentally feel good about it, because normally when they feel mentally good about it, in a lot of cases, the physical will follow.”
With the Dayton game behind them, the Hokies head north this weekend for an ACC series against Virginia. UVA has struggled early in ACC play, but Szefc says not to read too much into that.
“They’re good. Brian (O'Conner) and Mac (Kevin McMullan) and Karl (Kuhn), they do a great job there,” Szefc said about UVA’s coaches. “Every time I’ve always gone to Charlottesville, they’re ready to go. Don’t let any of their struggles fool you.”
As with rivalries in any sport, this weekend’s series could go either way, and Szefc knows it should be a good matchup.
“They’ll be very good and very prepared,” Szefc said. “I think we’ll be very prepared too. We look forward to the competition of it and if we pitch and play defense I think we’ll be right in every ball game.”
This weekend’s series against Virginia is set to begin Friday with first pitch scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Davenport Field for the first game of a doubleheader.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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