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May 7, 2013

VT Around The Bases 5.7

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The Hokies were on the road all of last week with a road game at Radford and a three game set in Chestnut Hill against Boston College. The Hokies lost only the Sunday matinee, so it has to be considered a successful week as the season winds down.

The Week In Review

Tuesday - Game 46: 4-3 W over Radford

Virginia Tech jumped out to an early 4-1 lead after two innings against neighboring Radford thanks to a wild pitch that plated shortstop Alex Perez, an RBI single by catcher Chad Morgan, an RBI double by third baseman Ryan Burns and another RBI double by first baseman Sean Keselica.

Coach Pete Hughes went with a committee approach on the mound, throwing Brendon Hayden four innings, Sean Kennedy three innings, the struggling Brad Markey one inning, and closer Clark Labitan one inning. Hayden got the win after giving up just one hit over his four innings, while Markey came in for a scoreless eighth inning. Labitan notched the save despite allowing a run that pulled the Highlanders within one.

Friday - Game 47: 1-0 W over Boston College (12 innings)

This one was a classic pitcher's duel as both team's starters went deep into the game without giving up a run. Virginia Tech's Joe Mantiply threw seven scoreless while surrendering just two hits. Boston College's Hunter Gordon threw nine innings while scattering seven hits.

The Hokies finally pushed across a run in the 12th inning when Hayden laid down a sacrifice bunt that the Eagles threw away, allowing catcher Mark Zagunis to score the winning run. Markey came on again in relief and threw two scoreless innings to earn the win.

Saturday - Game 48: 7-5 W over Boston College

For eight innings, the Hokies had this one in control. Starting pitcher Devin Burke was fantastic for the third straight outing, throwing seven innings and allowing just two hits. He has thrown 23.1 innings over his last three starts, surrendering just six earned runs.

Virginia Tech jumped out to a 7-0 lead during his brilliance, buoyed by a three-RBI performance from Burns. Kennedy relieved Burke after seven innings and got through the eighth inning easily before struggling in the ninth.

Kennedy had two outs and a runner on first when things got dicey. The Eagles strung together five straight hits to pull within 7-5 with a runner on first when Hughes brought in Jake Joyce to get the last out and preserve the win.

Sunday - Game 49: 5-3 L to Boston College

Markey returned to the rotation on Sunday after throwing a scoreless inning on Tuesday and two late in the game Friday night. His return was splendid, as he threw seven innings while giving up just one run on five hits.

Markey finished April 0-2 with a 12.19 ERA, so he needed a good outing in the worst way. He left with a 2-1 lead thanks to two runs Virginia Tech scored in the fifth on an RBI groundout and an RBI single. Unfortunately, Labitan couldn't hold the lead as he surrendered four runs in the eighth inning, allowing the Eagles to steal game three.

Thoughts From The Weekend

1) Joe Mantiply Is Back On Top - Mantiply was Virginia Tech's best pitcher last year and took a little while to get back in the groove in 2013. Luckily for the Hokies, he seems to be peaking at the right time, back at the top of the rotation after getting the start Friday at Boston College.

2) Hughes Helping Markey - Hughes finally pulled Markey from his Friday night role after he struggled mightily in April. He threw one inning in relief on Tuesday night and then picked up the win in extra innings Friday. Hughes sent him back on the mound for more work Sunday afternoon in what turned out to be an excellent move. With Mantiply and Burke rolling right now, Markey's return to form would be icing on the cake.

3) Around the ACC - There is just one weekend of conference play left and the Hokies have basically locked up an ACC tournament berth. Miami took the weekend off for a series against St. John's, so technically the Hokies have the seventh seed right now. However, the Hokies take this weekend off from ACC play, so it's possible the 'Canes could re-assume that spot.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, May 8 - vs High Point (5:30 p.m.)
Saturday, May 11- vs Marist (7 p.m.)
Sunday, May 12 - vs Marist (1 p.m.)

The Hokies have a pretty easy week this week as they take the weekend off from ACC play and welcome two lower level out of conference opponents to English Field. High Point is 23-24 on the season (10-8 in the Big South). Marist is 25-19-1 on the year and clinched a spot in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament with a sweep of St. Peter's over the weekend.


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