Virginia Tech hosted sixth-ranked NC State in a highly-anticipated ACC series this weekend at English Field. The Hokies opened the weekend with a win over the Wolfpack, but NC State retaliated in the next two games to take the series.
Virginia Tech Upsets #6 NC State in Game 1
NC State (23-5) came to town Thursday afternoon to face the Hokies (11-15) for an Easter weekend matchup. Connor Coward got the start for Virginia Tech in game one and he was lights out against the No. 6 team in the country.
NC State scored two runs in the top of the first inning, but Coward held them scoreless for the rest of the game as the Hokies went on to win 10-2 in the series opener. Coward pitched eight innings while giving up three hits and striking out nine batters.
The Hokies offense exploded in the third inning as eight runners crossed the plate. Luke Horanski started the scoring with a two-RBI double that plated Tom Stoffel and Jack Owens. RBI doubles by Sam Fragale and Nick Menken continued the scoring, followed by a few errors on NC State that allowed the Hokies to break away.
Tech would score again in the fourth and the eighth to seal the win.
Horanski finished Thursday’s game 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Joe Freiday, Jr. led the Hokies in hits, going 3-for-4 with one run and one RBI.
#6 NC State Blows Out Virginia Tech in Game 2
Friday’s game was a different story for Tech. Once again, NC State didn’t waste any time, scoring three runs in the first inning. The Wolfpack would score again in the third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth innings to take the 14-2 victory.
Virginia Tech was unable to score until the bottom of the seventh inning when Stoffel came home on a sacrifice fly by Fragale. Cam Irvine scored in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by Stoffel, but two runs were not enough to stop the Wolfpack.
Luke Scherzer started on Friday, going 2.1 innings while giving up four runs on three hits. Nic Enright pitched 3.2 innings of relief, giving up three earned runs on seven hits and striking out two batters.
Stoffel led the Hokies on Friday, going 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Irvine went 1-for-1 on Friday with a run scored.
#6 NC State Wins Pitching Dual to Take Series vs. Virginia Tech
The third game of the series between the ACC foes was the lowest-scoring of the weekend, and head coach John Szefc was not happy with his team’s lack of offense.
“You can’t go out there and get shut out at home with a chance to win the series,” Szefc said. “You’ve got to be able to scratch something out and put something together, regardless of who you’re playing at home.”
In front of the biggest crowd they’ve seen at home this season, the Hokies were unable to get any runs across the plate. Tech didn’t have much trouble getting on base, getting six hits and drawing three walks in the game, but the Hokies couldn’t get their runners home.
The Hokies were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, including a bases-loaded situation with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. Tom Stoffel grounded out into a double play to end that chance of scoring.
In total, eight Tech runners were left on base during Saturday’s game. When asked about the team’s performance with runners on, Szefc had a sense of urgency when it comes to improving that aspect of the game.
“If you don’t improve you’ll keep getting the same results,” he said. “So hopefully we can get over that hump because the people we play and the arms we face are only going to continue to get better. It’s just a matter of a guy getting something done when we need him to get something done.”
Despite the lack of runs from the Hokies, freshman pitcher Ian Seymour had a terrific performance on the mound. Seymour pitched six shutout innings, giving up five hits and fanning seven batters.
“I was just trying to do whatever I could to keep us in the game and luckily that worked out,” Seymour said. “Unfortunately the result wasn’t what we wanted, but if you keep the process working like that then hopefully you’ll get better results in the future.”
Seymour had success against a lineup in which all but one batter was hitting above .300 on the season. Although he didn’t feel like his changeup was at its best, four of his seven strikeouts were called strike threes.
“My changeup wasn’t as good as it sometimes is, but it worked,” Seymour said. “My slider was also very effective today as well. And then my ability to work a fastball inside and outside also worked.”
Although the Hokies weren’t able to get the win, Saturday’s game was an enjoyable one with warm weather and an active crowd.
“It was a lot of fun,” Seymour said. “It was definitely the biggest crowd that I’ve pitched against here at home.”
Szefc praised the atmosphere as well, saying Saturday’s game was the kind of environment he envisioned when he took the job.
“It’s great man. This is what you hope for,” Szefc said. “It’s great to see the place packed and there were a lot of people here. We certainly appreciate the support and outside of the outcome, it was a pretty good day.”
With the NC State series behind them, the Hokies will turn their attention to a midweek game against Dayton on Wednesday before heading to Charlottesville next weekend for a series against Virginia.
Tech is 13-3 all-time against Dayton, but the teams haven’t played since 2000. The Flyers are 7-15 this season and have lost four of their last five. Wednesday’s first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at English Field.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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