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March 12, 2013Sign-up for HokieHaven.com Wireless Text Alerts sent right to your cell phone!
For the first time in four weekends to open the 2013 season, Virginia Tech, No. 24 by Baseball America entering the weekend, lost more than it won. The two losses came at the hands of No. 14 Georgia Tech, who dispatched the Hokies handily on Friday and Saturday before Virginia Tech finished the series with a 6-2 win on Sunday afternoon.
The Week In Review
Friday - Game 14: 11-1 L to Georgia Tech
Yellow Jackets ace Buck Farmer set the tone for the weekend, dominating the Hokies through six innings while only allowing two hits and one run. Farmer's overpowering outing was clearly evident as he didn't give up a hit until the sixth inning (a double by Gary Scheider) and Chad Pinder followed that with an RBI single.
But by then Georgia Tech already had the game well in hand up 7-1. Daniel Palka and Zach Evans each homered and drove in four runs for the visitors, who capped off the scoring with a four-run ninth inning.
The Hokies finished with just four hits by four different players, and Eddie Campbell (1-1) was saddled with the loss on seven runs in four innings pitched. The lone bright spot for Virginia Tech was the middle of the bullpen in which Tanner McIntyre, Luis Collazo, and Clark Labitan combined for four innings, zero hits, and zero runs.
Saturday - Game 15: 14-9 L to Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech made things much more interesting in Saturday's contest. This one was a classic college baseball slugfest with a combined 25 runs on 27 hits. But even with nine runs in the first six innings by the Hokies, the story again was Georgia Tech's hitting.
After taking a 9-7 lead entering the seventh inning, the Hokie bats went stagnant and the Yellow Jackets put up a six-spot in the seventh and added one for good measure in the ninth to take the series victory.
Pinder got the Hokies on the scoreboard in the first with a sacrifice fly, good for his team-leading 18th RBI of the season. Georgia Tech answered in the second off of Hokies starter Brad Markey (6 innings, 11 hits, 9 runs, 6 earned) with four runs off three RBI singles and a fielder's choice.
Brendon Hayden made it a 4-2 ballgame when he clubbed his second home run of the season in the third, and the Hokies took a 6-4 lead the next inning thanks to another Pinder single and two fielder's choices.
Georgia Tech tied the game back up at 6 in the fourth on an RBI triple and a balk (sigh), and then took a 7-6 lead in the sixth inning on an RBI groundout. The Hokies didn't give up though. Sean Keselica gave Virginia Tech an 8-7 lead with a two-RBI double, and Pinder (2-4, 3 RBI, 1 run) once again followed with an RBI single to make it 9-7. That's when things unraveled.
After leaving starter Markey in the game, an error and a single brought on Labitan, who looked good in Friday's outing. The Yellow Jackets would go on to score six in the inning (two charged to Markey, four to Labitan- who was saddled with his first loss) on just four hits. After recording nine runs on ten hits in the first six frames, Virginia Tech was able to get just one baserunner the rest of the way. Pinder, Keselica, and Chad Morgan all finished with multi-hit performances.
Sunday - Game 16: 6-2 W over Georgia Tech
Knowing they already lost the series after Saturday's defeat, the Hokies showed resilience by coming away with a 6-2 victory in the final game of the three-game set. Virginia Tech got a great performance from starting pitcher Devin Burke as he improved his perfect record to 4-0. With a tired bullpen, Burke was exactly what the doctor ordered- he tossed eight strong innings while giving up just six hits and two runs.
Georgia Tech appeared to be heading for a series sweep after taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but that was all the hot Yellow Jackets could muster on Burke until a ninth inning run-scoring double chased him from the game. Perez tied the game with an RBI single in the fourth, and it wasn't until the sixth that the Hokies took the lead for good.
Hayden smashed a three-run home run for his second homer in as many days (team-leading third of the year), and Keselica followed with an RBI single for a 5-1 lead. Pinder (21 RBIs in 16 games with a .390 batting average) added an RBI single in the eighth inning to close out the Hokie scoring.
After the Georgia Tech RBI double closed the deficit to 6-2, closer Joe Mantiply came on in relief to finish the victory without any more damage.
Perez recorded three hits while Pinder and Hayden each added two hits apiece, and eight Hokie starters had at least one hit.
What We Learned From The Past Week
VT is good, but still has improvements to make to compete with the top-echelon of the ACC
This was definitely the biggest test for the Hokies thus far. Hopes were high for a Virginia Tech team that started 11-2, but the Yellow Jackets brought those hopes down to earth by exploding for 25 runs in the first two games. The weekend was evidence that while the Hokies' hitters can stack up with the best of them, pitching leaves much room for satisfaction. There's great hitters on every top team in the ACC, but the ones that separate themselves have a very reliable weekend staff.
The Week Ahead
Mar. 12 - at Charlotte (10-4)
Mar. 13 - at Elon (7-7)
Mar. 15 - at Duke (7-7, 1-1 ACC)
Mar. 16 - at Duke (7-7, 1-1 ACC)
Mar. 17 - at Duke (7-7, 1-1 ACC)
A new test is upcoming for the Hokies, as they travel for each of the five games they play this week. (They've only played two away games thus far) Tuesday's battle with Charlotte is sure to be a good one, and a contest with Elon the next day will test the mid-week rotation.
We'll find out how Virginia Tech stacks up with Duke, who is usually right around the middle of the pack in the ACC. Anything less than 3 wins (and a series victory over Duke) would be a disappointment.
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