Down 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Jack Hurley stepped up to the plate with Carson Jones on base. Repping a freshly buzzed head, and a red hot bat, the Pennsylvania native was ready to do damage, and that he did.
With a swing of the bat, Hurley arched the baseball as if it were a golf shot, gracefully flying over the right field wall and towards the trees beyond the fence.
All of the 2,000+ fans in attendance at English Field erupted into a frenzy as Hurley trotted the bases, losing his helmet in the process, before crossing home plate and running along a line of Hokie fans.
That was the key moment on Sunday, as Virginia Tech (17-10, 4-8 ACC) beat No. 5 Virginia (24-4, 8-4 ACC) 12-7 in a slugfest that the Cavaliers were simply overpowered in.
A key factor in both Saturday and Sunday’s games were the fans, as all of Blacksburg showed out, and gave the Hammering Hokies a presence they hadn’t felt since the regional and super regional last season.
“I’m just happy for our players and for our fans…they really supported us great,” said head coach John Szefc.
“I know it means more, and it should mean more to the people here in Blacksburg…so that’s a great part of it, and a really big part of this is winning an ACC series against a highly ranked team. It kind of gets out guys going in hopefully the right direction.”
Something to note: following Friday’s 9-5 loss, Tech put up a 12 spot on both Saturday and Sunday against Virginia, a team that hadn’t allowed double-digit runs in a single game coming into this series.
“It just shows you how good our offense is…our record doesn’t quite show how good our offense is,” said Hurley. “If you look at the numbers our offense is pretty elite, it just shows you that we can beat any team in the country if we outscore them."
And Hurley himself was no small piece of the puzzle this weekend. The preseason Golden Spikes watch list member had himself a weekend. Between Saturday and Sunday, Hurley totaled three home runs, and eight runs driven in. Pretty impressive if you also consider the slugger has seven long balls in the last seven games.
While Hurley was the catalyst this weekend, everyone in the lineup played a part.
Carson DeMartini got the Hokies going with a bases clearing triple in the first inning on Sunday, while Freshman bats Brody Donay (seven RBI’s v. UVA) and Garrett Michel raked this weekend - combining for three homers. Even Carson Jones had to change his whole approach, hitting leadoff the past two games. It was truly a team effort.
However, one of the Hokies most prominent bats, Chris Cannizzaro, who had been dealing with a bone bruise on his right hand, sat out on Saturday and DH’d on Sunday, slotting in at the seven spot.
Cannizzaro started out quiet, before launching a three-run nuke off the scoreboard to put the game out of reach in the seventh inning.
For the Bucknell transfer, he claimed he hadn’t seen a crowd like Sunday’s up north, but he was happy to be a part of it, even if he didn’t play the whole weekend.
“It was wild,” said Cannizzaro on his first Commonwealth Clash. “I wish I was out there for every inning, I really do, because I’ve never seen an environment like that. You see thousands of people coming out for these games and it’s incredible.”
Pitching wise, Tech gave its typical Sunday starter, Anthony Arguelles the ball, but he lasted just 2.2 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and a walk.
Virginia’s starter certainly didn’t fare any better, as freshman righty Jack O’Connor, who came into the contest with an ERA of 2.59, got blown up, getting pulled after just 1.2 innings due to trouble with pitch control. He gave up four runs on just 1 hit, allowing three walks as well.
Tech’s bullpen was gutsy today, as Griffin Stieg, Grant Umberger, Kiernan Higgins, and Jonah Hurney totaled the remaining 7.1 innings, allowing just two runs to a very talented UVA lineup.
One of the bats in that lineup, Kyle Teel, had an excellent weekend. The junior catcher, who sits in the top ten of the country’s hit leaderboard tallied six hits and seven RBI’s over the course of the series, but it wasn’t enough.
The win on Sunday sealed Tech’s first ACC series victory of the season, and first top five series win since the Hokies took down Miami in 2022.
They certainly needed this one, with Szefc and company hoping it will lead to better days as spring goes along.
The 2022-2023 Commonwealth Clash is now tied at seven apiece, thanks to Tech winning its baseball series over the Hoos for the second-straight year.