Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics (Pre-COVID)
After a rocky few weeks for Virginia Tech baseball, a trip up to Pittsburgh was all they needed to put their season back on track.
For the first time this season, Virginia Tech was able to sweep an ACC opponent during a weekend series; and this came at no easy task as it was against the No. 15 nationally-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers.
Coming into this weekend series, the Hokies have been on the losing end of six of their previous eight matchups and had fallen out the national rankings while dropping down the ACC Coastal standings.
The Panthers on the other hand were hitting their best stride of the season, working themselves up to being tied for first place in the ACC Coastal.
During the Hokies’ rough stretch, they were common victims of falling behind early on the scoreboard often and had to dig themselves out of a hole. That wasn’t the case when it came to the first game of the series when Gavin Cross got things going with a 2-RBI double in the top of the third inning.
His efforts didn’t stop there as he connected for the game’s only home run in the seventh inning as well as a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, to tally four RBIs on the Hokies’ five runs.
The only other run of the game for the Hokies was recorded thanks to a RBI double by Jack Hurley in the eighth inning which brought home Dayne Leonard.
The Panthers’ single run of the game came from Riley Wash RBI single, which brought home David Yanni in the fourth inning.
Peyton Alford got the credit for the victory after a successful six innings pitched which included eight strikeouts and allowing only four hits. Matthew Siverling was the only Hokie pitcher to come out of the bullpen for the game, and he had an outstanding three-inning performance only allowing two hits and recording six strikeouts to get his second save of the season.
The 5-1 victory for the Hokies gave themselves their first Friday win since Mar. 5 against the North Carolina Tar Heels at English Field.
One of the more successful days of the week for the Hokies this year has been Saturday, with Tech winning three straight games on Saturday prior to game 2 of the series.
The Hokies started off the second game well with Hurley scoring in the first frame off a wild pitch from Matt Gilbertson.
The Panthers were eventually able to knot it up in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly from Yanni which was able to score Kyle Hess.
After experiencing a pitcher’s duel through the first five innings, the Hokies went on a tear starting in the sixth inning to pull away from the Panthers.
TJ Rumfield started off a series of small-ball events with a RBI single, which was followed by a Kevin Madden RBI single and a Carson Jones sacrifice fly to give the Hokies a 4-1 lead.
The dominance for the Hokies continued into the eighth inning with a Jones RBI single and the ninth inning with a Rumfield 2-RBI single and a Madden sacrifice fly to build a 8-1 lead into the ending of the game.
The Panthers collected some consolation runs in the bottom of the ninth inning with a three-run home run from Ron Washington Jr. to make it a 8-4 ball game, but the Hokies were too far ahead for the Panthers to form any serious comeback.
Anthony Simonelli collected his second victory of the season from a solid five inning performance where he struck out seven batters and only allowed three hits. Shane Connolly came in to capture his fifth save of the year by recording three strikeouts and only giving up one hit.
The Hokies were now in prime position to collect their first three-game sweep of the season after collecting their second ACC road series victory of the year.
For the third game in a row, the Hokies jumped onto the scoreboard first with a Rumfield RBI single in the first inning. The Panthers were quick to respond with a Washington RBI single in the bottom of the same inning.
After a couple of quiet innings, the Hokies once again pulled away from the Panthers in the middle of the game, starting with a Jones’ solo shot in the fourth inning. Later in the sixth inning, Madden’s RBI single and a Fritz Genther walk moved Virginia Tech up to a 4-1 advantage.
Pittsburgh wasn’t giving up so easily though as they scored three runs in the seventh inning with a Jordan Anderson 2-RBI single and a Kyle Hess fielder’s choice to knot the score up at four apiece.
In the most competitive game of the series, the Hokies needed a couple of break-through innings to prevail in the third game.
Fortunately for the Hokies, they were able to produce a quick response in the eighth inning with Genther RBI double to bring him home Leonard. In a crazy series of events in the same inning, Genther was able to score all the way from second base after the Panthers’ catcher committed a throwing error in an attempt to get Genther out at third base.
Going into the ninth inning, the Hokies were able to put the cherry on top with a Hurley 2-RBI single to bring the score to its final result of 8-4.
After Siverling collected his second save of the season on Friday, he recorded his third victory of the season while only allowing three hits in the final three innings of the game.
As it seemed like a lot of hope was lost for Virginia Tech, the Hokies displayed near perfect baseball this weekend to finish up the month of March on a high note. Up next, the Hokies will return to English Field to begin a three-game series against Boston College on Thursday.