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May 6, 2014

Around The Bases: Week 12

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New week, same story for the Hokies as coach Patrick Mason's club went on the road and lost by one on Friday night for the seventh time this season. The Hokies battled hard for the series and earned a nice win on Sunday afternoon, but their ACC tournament chances remain extremely bleak.

The Week In Review

Friday - Game 45: 7-6 L to Georgia Tech (11 innings)
This was the seventh one-run Friday loss for the Hokies this season, including their third in a row. Two of the last three have come in extra innings with the other one coming via a fielder's choice in the bottom of the eighth inning. Sean Keselica got the start for the Hokies on the mound again and threw 4.2 innings while giving up eight hits and four runs (two earned).

The Hokies trailed 4-1 after five innings before plating three in the top of the sixth inning. With runners on first and second, shortstop Ricky Surum laid down a sacrifice bunt that was thrown into right field by Georgia Tech starter Josh Heddinger. The error scored left fielder Logan Bible and Keselica, who moved to DH after being removed from the mound.

Surum advanced to third on the error, where he scored from on a ground ball by third baseman Ryan Tufts. Suddenly, the game was tied 4-4.

The teams traded runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and the top of the seventh inning and the game went to the ninth inning tied at five. Virginia Tech first baseman Brendon Hayden lifted a pitch over the fence with two outs to give the Hokies a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning.

However, Georgia Tech was able to tie it again off of reliever Sean Kennedy by manufacturing a run in the bottom half of the inning. Kennedy got the first batter to foul out to Tufts at third base, but the next two batters singled before a sacrifice fly moved the tying run to third base. An RBI single by Georgia Tech cleanup hitter Thomas Smith sent the game to extra innings.

The game remained tied at six until the bottom of the eleventh, when the Jackets struck off of Virginia Tech freshman Aaron McGarity. A sacrifice bunt followed a leadoff single to move the winning run into scoring position. A single moved him to third before Georgia Tech three hitter Matt Gonzalez won the game with a single.


Saturday - Game 46: 3-1 L to Georgia Tech
This was a classic pitcher's duel, as Virginia Tech's Brad Markey and Georgia Tech's Devin Stanton went toe-to-toe for much of the game. Markey threw a complete game and surrendered three runs on six hits. Stanton allowed just one run on six hits over seven innings.

The Hokies took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning when third baseman Miguel Ceballos broke for home from third base after a pickoff attempt at first base. Ceballos narrowly beat the throw to give the Hokies an early edge.

Georgia Tech responded with a solo home run by cleanup hitter A.J. Murray in the bottom of the fourth inning. Then in the bottom of the sixth inning, Georgia Tech second baseman Mott Hyde basically manufactured a run by himself. Hyde singled with one out in the inning, before stealing second and advancing to third on a throwing error by Virginia Tech catcher Andrew Mogg. He scored on a single by the next batter to make it 2-1, Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech closer Sam Clay relieved Stanton in the eight inning and immediately faced trouble. Right fielder Mark Zagunis led off with a walk before Hayden singled him, setting up first and second with nobody out. Zagunis was caught in a pickle too far off second base and tagged out, but Hayden managed to move up to second to keep at least a minor opportunity open for the Hokies. Unfortunately, Clay got the next two batters out without much trouble.

Gonzalez drove in an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth to make it 3-1 in favor of the Yellow Jackets before Clay worked a perfect ninth inning to give GT the victory in game two of the series.


Sunday - Game 47: 7-6 W over Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech wasted no time getting things going in the Sunday matinee, as Hayden drove in a run and Bible tripled home three more to make it 4-0 after a half inning. The Yellow Jackets responded with two of their own in the bottom half of the first inning off of Virginia Tech starter Kit Scheetz, but this was a lead the Hokies wouldn't relinquish, although they tried.

After that first inning, Scheetz kept the Yellow Jackets off the board until sixth inning when a single by catcher Arden Pabst plated two runs to make it 5-4, Hokies. Virginia Tech left fielder Phil Sciretta had extended VT's lead in the top of the frame with an RBI single.

Zagunis came up huge in the top of the seventh inning with a two-RBI single that proved crucial in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Hokies led 7-5 going into the final frame with Luke Scherzer working his third inning of the day. He got the first out, but gave up a single, walk, and RBI single to make it 7-6 with runners on first and second with one out. Mason turned to the bullpen and Tanner McIntyre to try and get out the jam. On a 3-2 to pitch, Georgia Tech started the runners from first and second. The batter at the plate was called out looking, so Zagunis whipped the ball down to third and nabbed the runner taking third to end the game on an odd strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play.


ACC Tournament Update

Simply put, the Hokies need a massive miracle to make the tournament. They've just had too many close losses and need to sweep NC State two weekends from now and get help along the way.

Here's the current ACC Tournament picture:

1. Miami (19-5)
2. Virginia (18-6)
3. Florida State (17-7)
4. Duke (15-9)
5. North Carolina (13-11)
6. Clemson (12-11)
7. Georgia Tech (14-13)
8. Wake Forest (12-12)
9. Maryland (12-14)
10. Pittsburgh (11-13)
11. NC State (9-15)
12. Boston College (9-18)
13. Virginia Tech (8-19)
14. Notre Dame (4-20)

The top six seeds get in immediately, while seeds 7-10 play a play-in round to determine the final two seeds in the eight-team tournament.

To get into the ACC Tournament, Virginia Tech needs
1) Sweep NC State to move to 11-19 in the ACC and hope NC State wins only at the most two out of three from Wake Forest this weekend. This makes the Wolfpack 11-19 with the Hokies holding the tiebreaker.
2) Hope Pittsburgh gets swept by both Maryland and Notre Dame over the next two weeks to make them 11-19 overall (VT holds the head-to-head tiebreaker).
3) Hope Boston College loses at least two at Clemson two weeks from now to make them at best 10-20.

Obviously this is a lot and extremely unlikely, particularly with Pittsburgh needing just one win and facing a season finale series against Notre Dame.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, May 6 -vs. West Virginia (6:00 p.m., Princeton, West Va)
Wednesday, May 7 - vs. Northeastern (5:30 p.m.)

The Hokies get their bye weekend this upcoming weekend meaning they play just two midweek games this week. The first one is particularly interesting as it pits the Hokies against archrival West Virginia in a sold out game at the home of the Tampa Bay Rays advanced rookie-level team.

The Mountaineers are a quality team at 26-17 overall and 9-8 in the Big 12. They won two out of three over No. 11 Texas last weekend. This will be a tough test for the Hokies, although the Mountaineers likely won't throw any of their big guns for a midweek game in the latter stages of the regular season.

Northeastern visits Blacksburg on Wednesday to conclude Virginia Tech's weekend. The Huskies are 21-23 overall and 6-9 in the CAA. I expect Patrick Mason to get each of his main pitchers a couple innings sometime this week as the Hokies won't play again until Thursday, May 15.





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