April 9, 2012

Around the Bases

Virginia Tech had a terrific week on the diamond, winning all four games they played including a three game sweep over visiting Boston College. In what has to be a massive statistically anomaly, each game against Boston College finished at 8-4. It was a major confidence-rebuilding week for the Hokies, especially with the biggest home series of the year next weekend against Miami.

The Week In Review

Tuesday - 13-4 W over Wofford

In a change from the trend of the season, the Hokies actually struck first and struck hard in the opening few frames to take a commanding lead. After scratching across one run in the first, Tech broke things open in the second on a walk, double, RBI groundout by Carson Helms (2-0), walk, sac bunt, Chad Pinder double (4-0), walk, Johnny Morales single (5-0), and Mark Zagunis single (6-0). Tyler Horan hit his team leading eighth home run to make it 8-2 in the fourth. The Hokies scored the remainder of their runs on a couple sac flies, a groundout, and an Andrew Rash RBI double. Redshirt sophomore and Duke transfer Devin Burke got the start, throwing four decent innings, giving up two runs on five walks with six strikeouts. He gave way to Eddie Campbell in the fifth, who proceeded to throw four innings and recorded seven more strikeouts before giving way to Sean Keselica for the ninth.

Friday - 8-4 W over Boston College

Starter Joe Mantiply recovered after giving up a two run home run in the top of the first to throw 7.1 quality innings, scattering six hits, striking out 10, and surrendering just three earned runs. Tech responded to the early 2-0 deficit by scoring two in the bottom of the second and another in the bottom of the third on a Brendon Hayden two run home run and a passed ball respectively. A five run fifth inning by the Hokies broke open the game, with Tech scoring two on a home run by Mark Zagunis, another on a sac fly by Ronnie Shaban, and RBI singles by both Chad Pinder and Brendon Hayden. Mantiply got into a little trouble in the eighth before giving way to Clark Labitan for the remainder of the game. Of note, 2B Alex Perez had two triples in this game.

Saturday - 8-4 W over Boston College

This was a really competitive, back-and-forth baseball game until the Hokies broke things open in the latter innings. Andrew Alzenstadt started on the mound for the Hokies and gave up four runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings, leaving the game trailing 4-3. Johnny Morales gave the Hokies the lead for good with a two RBI single in the seventh before things really went Tech's way in the eighth. After a groundout and a flyout to start Tech's half, Mark Zagunis walked, Tyler Horan tripled to score Zagunis, Johnny Morales singled to score Horan, and Ronnie Shaban doubled to plate Morales. All of a sudden, it was 8-4 Hokies with just three outs to play. Jake Joyce came on in relief of Alzenstadt in the sixth and finished the game with 3.1 scoreless innings to get the win.

Sunday - 8-4 W over Boston College

After throwing four quality innings against Wofford on Tuesday, Eddie Campbell got the start Sunday and threw three innings as Pete Hughes went with a nice committee approach for the matinee. Campbell gave up four runs (two earned) despite just giving up two hits on the day. Two walks, a wild pitch, and a throwing error gave the Eagles a 2-0 lead in the first but the Hokies scored one in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fifth, and two in the sixth to provide enough runs for the sweep. Ronnie Shaban had a two RBI single and Andrew Rash had a two RBI double to really give Tech some cushion in the fifth and sixth innings. Tanner McIntyre came on in relief of Campbell in the fourth and threw three shutout innings before giving way to Labitan for the final three scoreless innings.

What We Learned

Granted the Eagles aren't one of the top programs in the ACC, a sweep was desperately needed for the Hokies as they moved to 22-12 overall and 5-10 in the ACC. Ronnie Shaban returned to action in the field, playing and contributing in a big way in all three games. He went 1-3 Friday, 3-5 Saturday, and 2-3 Sunday at the dish. It will be interesting to see if Hughes tests him on the mound or if he is content with just having his bat in the lineup.

Joe Mantiply was the only regular Virginia Tech weekend starter to get a start this week, which will be something to watch next week as the Hokies head into a big series with Miami. Another good sign for the Hokies was the fact that they committed just one error in the series over the weekend.

The Week Ahead

Virginia Tech makes a quick road trip up 460 on Tuesday for a mid-week game at Radford. The game starts at 6:00 P.M. and it will be the second matchup of the year. Tech won the first game 7-3 back on March 13th.

The upcoming weekend brings the biggest home series of the year for the Hokies, as the Miami Hurricanes come to town. Miami was ranked 18th in the country by Baseball America heading into last weekend, but will undoubtedly rise big-time in this week's rankings after sweeping the third ranked North Carolina Tar Heels over the weekend. The 'Canes have a very good catcher, Peter O'Brien, who was ranked as the 90 prospect for the 2012 MLB Draft by Baseball America prior to the season.

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