Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics (Pre-COVID)
Before heading down to Miami this weekend, the Virginia Tech Baseball team took care of business at English Field over the past few days.
After the three-game weekend series against Kent State was altered to a Sunday doubleheader due to inclement weather, the Hokies did not miss a beat and made sure to defend home field with excellent pitching in both outings.
Both teams had an early morning for the first game of the day with a 11 a.m. first pitch, and although the bats were quite sleepy, the pitching did not miss a beat for either side.
The Hokies made sure to pounce on Kent State ace Luke Albright early in the first inning thanks to a fielder's choice from Kevin Madden to give themselves the 1-0 lead.
That lead didn’t last too long as the Golden Flashes responded with a Justin Mikines RBI double in the third inning to knot the scoring at one apiece.
The game-winning run for the Hokies came in the fifth inning as freshman Tanner Schobel made contact for his first career collegiate RBI double to bring home Cade Swisher to put Virginia Tech up 2-1. The final run of the game came from a Swisher walk with the bases loaded to give him his first RBI of the season and enough to give the Hokies their first win of the campaign.
The first matchup between both squads saw only nine hits throughout the course of the game with the Golden Flashes having the advantage over the Hokies, 6-3.
Chris Gerard gets credit for the win after six solid innings of pitching, collecting seven strikeouts and only allowing one run in his season debut while Jaison Heard came in for the closing gig to seal it for the Hokies.
If you are more of a fan of the offensive side of baseball, the second game of the doubleheader was definitely your cup of tea.
Just like the first game of the doubleheader, the Hokies jumped out to an early lead over the Golden Flashes. Swisher and Schobel had a large part in the early offense for the Hokies with Swisher’s second RBI walk of the day and Schobel’s RBI single to make it 3-0 after the first frame.
The offensive power from the Hokies did not stop there as Gavin Cross cracked a two-run shot, the first home run of the day for either team, down the right field line to give the Hokies a 5-0 lead over Kent State.
The Golden Flashes made a comeback charge in the sixth inning after a two-run RBI single came off the bat of Collin Mathews, to cut their deficit to three runs.
At the tail end of the game, the Hokies made sure to put away the Golden Flashes with small-ball tactics, which supplied four runs in the final two innings to win the second game, 9-2.
Anthony Simonelli gos the credit for the win in this one as he delivered five scoreless innings and four strikeouts, before giving up a run in the sixth which led to his departure from the mound. Shane Connolly came in for the save for Virginia Tech as he was able to wrap up a successful day at English Field for the Hokies.
Moving on to the mid-week matchup, the Hokies took on New River Valley rival Radford to try to keep their hot start going, and did just that.
The game started off quite competitive as the Highlanders were the first team to jump on the board in the top of first inning, but the Hokies responded in the bottom of the frame to knot the score at one apiece.
Throughout the course of the day, the Hokies used some big innings to help them pull themselves away from the Highlanders, including three runs in the third and sixth innings, nine in the seventh and six in the eighth to dismantle Radford 22-2, which improves their record to 3-0 on the season.
TJ Rumfield had the hot bat for Virginia Tech with one double, and team-highs with two home runs and five RBIs;. Overall, he had three of the eight extra-base hits for the Hokies.
The Hokies had their best offensive performance against the Highlanders in their series history with 22 runs topping the previous record of 21 runs back on March 26, 1997.
Ryan Okuda recorded his first win of the season for the Hokies as he recorded three strong innings with three strikeouts and one unearned run. John Szefc was not shy to go to his bullpen as relief pitchers were on the mound for six innings in this game.
Up next for the Hokies will be a three-game series against the Miami Hurricanes starting on Friday down in Coral Gables, FL. It will be the first ACC series of the season for Virginia Tech and all the action from this weekend will take place on ACC Network Extra.