Usually when teams use a lot of pitchers in a game, they’re struggling defensively. But in Virginia Tech’s 6-5 win over Old Dominion on Wednesday, that wasn’t the case.
“That was really the plan,” head coach John Szefc said of the Hokies using six different pitchers to defeat the Monarchs. “We weren’t going to overuse any one of our arms just because we have a pretty important series coming up.”
Nic Enright had the best performance, relieving starter Hayden Heflin in the top of the third. Enright pitched 2.2 innings, allowing no hits while striking out two batters, doing so with incredible efficiency.
“He was really good,” Szefc said. “I think he only threw like 31 pitches in three innings. That’s pretty impressive.”
The Hokies were not in control of the game the entire time, though. ODU jumped out front in the top of the first and the Hokies would not get a run on the board until the bottom of the fifth.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Monarchs led 5-3, but Virginia Tech wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.
The first three batters in the inning reached base. Luke Horanski came around to score on a wild pitch that also advanced Sam Fragale and Joe Freiday, Jr. With two runners in scoring position, Nick Menken hit a sacrifice fly that scored Fragale and tied the game.
The next two batters grounded out, sending the game into extra innings.
ODU couldn’t get anything going in the top of the inning, but the Hokies kept their momentum. Stevie Mangrum, Jack Owens, and Tom Stoffel all reached base to start the inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, Horanski singled up the middle to drive in Mangrum and win the game for Tech.
“It feels good. My team put me in a great spot to get it done, having three guys on right away,” Horanski said about driving in the winning run. “I’m just thankful everybody was on and I could drive it in.”
Horanski finished the game 3-for-5 at the plate, driving in two runs and scoring one. Mangrum went 2-for-3 on the night with two runs scored and two walks.
The loss ends a four-game losing streak for the Hokies, who travel to Notre Dame this weekend.
“We’ve kind of been on a little bit of a skid there getting swept by Louisville,” Horanski said. “Last night obviously didn’t end how we wanted it to, but I feel like now we’ve got some good momentum going into next weekend against Notre Dame.”
The Hokies played well defensively, committing no errors against Old Dominion. The last time Virginia Tech finished a game without committing an error was April 10th against Marshall.
“That’s what we keep preaching to our guys is just attacking the zone, throwing a lot of strikes in pitching, playing defense,” Szefc said. “I just talked to them before the game again about trying to do a good job of separating your offense from your defense, not taking a poor at bat out there to the field. We played pretty well defensively.”
Despite the improvement in the field and the pitching performance, there are some areas of the game where the Hokies still need work.
Virginia Tech finished the night 5-for-22 with runners on base and just 4-for-17 with runners in scoring position. The Hokies had the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth before Freiday and Menken each struck out, ending the inning. In all, Tech left 12 runners on base.
Szefc has spoken all season long about improving on situational hitting, but for now, he’s happy with the comeback win.
“They hung in there pretty good and I give them credit,” Szefc said. “They could’ve folded it up and they didn’t. That’s the mark of guys that care and I think they care.”
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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