Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
After a rough start in Conway, South Carolina, the Virginia Tech Baseball team has turned it around winning four of their past 5 games ahead of this weekend's series against Bryant.
The Hokies started off their 2020 season in the Brittain Resorts Baseball at the Beach tournament, a three day event just outside of Myrtle Beach, facing off against the likes of San Diego State, UNC Greensboro and Coastal Carolina.
It was a difficult weekend for the Hokies as they blew two leads against San Diego State and UNC Greensboro. Both games ended 7-5, with the Hokies being on the wrong side of both results.
Their third game of the weekend, against the hosts Coastal Carolina, was rained out which brought an abrupt ending to their weekend.
Nevertheless, the Hokies were able to start turning things around with their home opener. The cancelled game allowed the Hokies to start veteran Ian Seymour against East Tennessee State with the Hokies taking advantage on their to a 10-3 victory.
Then, the Hokies went on the road for the second time this season for a three-game series at Louisiana in Lafayette, LA.
As the weekend got underway on Friday, the Hokies found themselves in a tight pitcher’s duel that lasted throughout the entire night; only seven hits combined for the Hokies and the Ragin' Cajuns.
The big break for Louisiana came in the fifth inning, where an error by Hokies pitcher Chris Gerard allowed Ragin’ Cajuns’ Sebastian Toro to break the scoreless tie; later in the inning Toro scored the second run off a Gavin Bourgeois single, giving themselves a 2-0 lead over the Hokies.
Virginia Tech had no response offensively in that game and Chris Gerard was handed his first defeat of the season while Louisiana's Connor Angel recorded his first win of the year.
Onto Saturday, the Hokies were still searching for their first victory of the 2020 season; and they were able to find the break off a great pitching effort by Hokies’ Anthony Simonelli.
The offense for Virginia Tech started off strong early. In the first inning, an error committed by Ragin’ Cajuns’ Ben Fitzgerald allowed Nick Biddison to tally the first run of the game. Later in the inning, Kevin Madden crossed home plate off a fielder’s choice created by DH Spencer Palmer.
Louisiana struck back in the second inning, cutting the lead into half off a Toro RBI single to score Jon Windham. The Hokies were able to gain some comfort once again in the sixth inning off a wild pitch which brought home Carson Taylor from third to boost the Hokies’ lead back to two.
A late effort by the Ragin’ Cajuns was not enough despite a Julian Brock RBI single to score Connor Kimple which cut the lead down to a one-run game, but Hokies closer Peyton Alford was able to close out the ninth inning and secure the second Virginia Tech victory of the season, 3-2
Simonelli was credited with the win while the Ragin’ Cajuns’ Will Moriarty was given his second loss on the year.
The series came down to Sunday, the rubber match, as the Hokies were looking to win their first three-game series of the season.
It ended up being the best game for the Hokies of the enter series as they posted their first shutout victory of the season off an excellent performance provided by Hokies’ pitcher Ian Seymour, who went six innings and allowed only two hits.
The offense for the Hokies was strong in the second inning as a sacrifice fly from Carson Jones brought home Spencer Palmer. Later on, Reagen Teegarden recorded an RBI double to bring in Gavin Cross, securing another 2-0 start for Virginia Tech.
The final run for the Hokies came in the third inning as Carson Taylor grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Nick Biddison, making it 3-0 for good.
Seymour picked up his first victory of the season while the save was given to Nathan Starliper, his first of the season.
After a rough start to the weekend, the Hokies were able to close up with dominant pitching which held the Ragin’ Cajuns to only two runs through eighteen innings of play.
As a matter of fact, calculating all the runs scored on the weekend, the Hokies outmatched Louisiana 6-4 through three baseball games. In a series where the Hokies weren’t going offensively, the pitching indeed stepped up and was the difference maker in both of their victories.
The Hokies returned home on Tuesday as they took on a familiar foe, Radford, in a mid-week contest between the two New River Valley schools.
The Highlanders struck first in the fourth inning as former Hokie J.D. Mundy had an RBI double that brought home Straton Podaras, giving Radford the 1-0 lead.
The break-through inning came in the seventh for the Hokies, where they found all three of their runs on the afternoon. It started off with a Reagan Teegarden double to score Jonah Seagears, knotting the score up at one apiece.
The Hokies broke ahead for the lead later on in the inning with a Fritz Genther single which brought home Teegarden. This was followed a few batters later by a Carson Taylor walk, which brought home Genther
As the Hokies jumped out to a 3-1 lead, the Highlanders seized an opportunity to strike back with a Anthony Galati single to bring home Garrett Matheny, cutting the Virginia Tech lead in half. However, it was not enough as the Hokies picked up their third-straight win with the final score being 3-2.
Peyton Alford was given credit for the victory, his first of the season, while Zach Brzykcy was rewarded with his first save of the season. Radford’s Derek Domecq was given his first loss of the year due to a rough outing in the seventh inning.
Given a difficult start to the season, which saw the Hokies at a 0-2 record, this young team has turned it around in the last two weeks and have jumped out to a 4-3 record. Head Coach John Szefc has to be pleased with how his team has turned it around especially with Tech taking 2 of 3 at Louisiana.
Up next for the Hokies will be their first three-game home series of the season as they take on Bryant University at English Field. The Hokies saw the Bulldogs last season in an early three-game series in Blacksburg, with the Bulldogs pulling out the 2-1 series win.
The temperature will definitely be a factor in the first two games of the series with high temperatures expected to not reach 40 degrees Friday and Saturday.
The Bryant Bulldogs come into the weekend series with a record of 2-5. Their season started off 0-4 before winning a weekend series 2-1 down in Atlanta on February 21-23.
Bryant currently leads the all-time series over Virginia Tech 6-4, with all games being played at English Field.