[caption id="attachment_4861" align="aligncenter" width="700"]
Virginia Tech sweeps USC Upstate to open the 2017 baseball season. [Credit: Harley Taylor][/caption]The Virginia Tech Hokies opened the season on the road with a trip to the USC Upstate Spartans looking to start eh 2017 season with at least a series victory after having one of the worst seasons in Virginia Tech baseball history last year.
It's safe to say that the Hokies got off to that great start that they were hoping to.
Virginia Tech swept USC Upstate with only one game having a save opportunity for a Virginia Tech reliever in what was a dominant performance from Pat Mason and his team to open the season. While this type of performance should be expected against a smaller conference program like USC Upstate, actually getting it done is great to see from the Hokies after their 19-36 record last season where they lost their fair share of games that they should have won based on the competition.
Game 1: Virginia Tech 11, USC Upstate 3
The Virginia Tech Hokies opened the season with an impressive 11-3 win over USC Upstate led by a career day from Sam Fragale who went 5-for-5 from the plate with 3 home runs, 7 RBIs, a double, and a triple while Nick Anderson went 3-for-5 with a RBI and got credit with the win after coming in for Packy Naughton with one out in the fifth and pitching 2.2 shutout innings.
Virginia Tech had a solid day from their pitching staff with VT only giving up 2 earned runs and both Nick Anderson (2.2 innings) and Graham Seitz (1 inning) not giving up any runs while on the mound while Packy Naughton started and only gave up 1 run in 4.1 innings, striking out 6 but walking 4.
Meanwhile, the biggest headlines came at the plate as Sam Fragale had an offensive performance of the year with his 3 home runs and 7 RBIs while Anderson had a great game all-around on the mound and at the plate. Virginia Tech had five home runs as a team with Joe Freiday and Raheim Cooper both hitting home runs as well while Stevie Mangrum didn't start but did get a RBI.
The Hokies did exactly what they needed to in what was a great Opening Day performance in Spartanburg.
Game 2: Virginia Tech 9, USC Upstate 8
Virginia Tech had a much greater struggle in game 2 of their opening series, but Tom Stoffel stepped up in the eighth inning driving in Ryan Tufts via a bunt single to give the Hokies the 9-8 lead that they would hold onto. After starter Joey Sullivan gave up 8 runs (all unearned) in 3 innings, VT's bullpen shut down USC Upstate with Kit Scheetz in particular shining with 3.1 innings of shutout ball before Aaron McGarity came in for a 5-out save.
Tom Stoffel had a strong performance in this game going 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs while Sam Fragale also had a 2-run single in the first. Jack Owens also had a very good game at the plate in his second game as a Hokie as he went 3-for-4 with a RBI while both Stevie Mangrum and Raheim Cooper both had a RBI in this game.
Virginia Tech's bullpen stepped up after Sullivan's disappointing start with Connor Coward, Kit Scheetz, and Aaron McGarity combining for 6 shutout innings while Virginia Tech's offense also made up for the poor first three innings defensively and on the mound. Virginia Tech will need to clean things up defensively after having 5 errors in this game, but Virginia Tech did what they needed to and got a win.
Game 3: Virginia Tech 8, USC Upstate 2
On Sunday, Virginia Tech put together one more dominant performance after a close call on Saturday, getting an 8-2 win over USC Upstate thanks largely to a great pitching performance from Andrew McDonald who only gave up 2 runs in 7.2 innings and struck out 9. Virginia Tech completed a big sweep that gives them some early season momentum ahead of their Tuesday home opener against Marshall and four games out west next weekend against Nevada.
McDonald's performance was big as he likely has locked down a spot as a weekend starter for now with McDonald likely pushing Sullivan out if he didn't already have a spot especially after Virginia Tech had to use Kit Scheetz and Aaron McGarity yesterday, two guys who could also be used as starters. Nick Anderson and Paull Hall Jr. combined for 4 outs of no runs to close out the game in what was a good weekend for the Virginia Tech bullpen.
At the plate, Tom Stoffel and Nick Anderson led the way in the run producing as both Stoffel and Anderson went 2-for-4 at the plate with 2 RBIs with Anderson and Joe Freiday both having home runs and 3 runs being unearned thanks to an error off a Joe Freiday plate appearance. Jack Owens finished the weekend well with another 3-for-4 performance at the plate while scoring 2 runs as well.
The Hokies stepped up on Sunday to close out a great sweep that should give them plenty of momentum going into their home opener on Tuesday against Marshall and 4 games next weekend in Reno against Nevada.
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