After going 3-9 in their last 12 ACC games, Virginia Tech baseball entered this weekend looking to win a conference series for the first time since Pittsburgh just over a month ago. Over that time, the Hokies have taken care of their business in non-conference but needed some ACC success not only to revive their shrinking hopes to make the NCAA Tournament, but also to regain a spot in the top 12 of the ACC, the requirement for making the ACC Tournament.
The Hokies faced a tough home challenge from 11th-ranked Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jackets were looking to win another ACC series as they look to build their case to be a top 16 seed and regional host. Unfortunately, the Hokies weren't able to get a valuable series victory.
Virginia Tech did pick up a valuable win against Georgia Tech for their NCAA Tournament resume, but were unable to pick up a series victory that would have stood out even anymore. After the series, Virginia Tech is now 22-18 on the season and 7-14 in ACC play, currently tied for 12th in ACC wins, right on the ACC Tournament cut line.
While Virginia Tech was able to start the series with a win, the Hokies struggled in Saturday's doubleheader with a pair of late comeback attempts coming up just short in the end. Additionlly, talented freshman hitter Carson Taylor left the final game of the series after getting hit by a pitch around his wrist though John Szefc said that initial scans returned negative, a piece of good news given the situation for the Hokies.
Here's a game-by-game recap of the Hokies' weekend performance against the 11th-ranked Yellow Jackets.
Virginia Tech Opens Series With Walk-Off Win
The Hokies opened the series well Thursday night with a 3-2 win thanks to a solo home run from Carson Taylor in the first and a two-run homer from Tanner Thomas in the sixth inning. Jaison Heard (2-0) was credited with the win for the Hokies while Jack Dellinger was credited with his first save of the season.
Carson Taylor gave the Hokies an early lead before Georgia Tech finally found their offense with a pair of runs in the fifth to take a 2-1 lead. However, that would be the only runs of the day for the 11th-ranked Yellow Jackets with Tanner Thomas' sixth inning two-run home run giving Virginia Tech the lead for good on their way to a major victory over a ranked, conference opponent as they look to give a jolt to their NCAA Tournament hopes.
Taylor was the star at the plate for the Hokies going 2-3 reaching base 3 times highlighted by his solo home run. Nick Biddison was the only other player with multiple hits going 2-3 with a walk and a run while Tanner Thomas led VT with a pair of RBIs from his two-run home run.
Ian Seymour had an okay start for the Hokies going 4.1 innings with 3 strikeouts while allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks. The Hokies' bullpen stepped up though only letting 4 on base (1 hit, 3 walks) in 4.2 innings of work highlighted by Dellinger ending the game with five-straight outs including a pair of strikeouts.
Hokies' Comeback Efforts Come Up Short In Game 2
After a Friday rain out, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech opened the first of a series-closing doubleheader with a much more offensive game that ended in the Yellow Jackets' favor 7-5. Connor Thomas (6-1) of Georgia Tech was awarded with the win while Chris Gerard (3-1) picked up his first career loss and Tristin English was credited with the save.
It was a back-and-forth first couple of innings with both teams briefly holding the lead before a solo home run from Luke Horanski tied the game up in the bottom of the 2nd. The middle innings proved critical with the Yellow Jackets bringing in 5 runs in the fourth and fifth innings (and VT using four different pitchers) while the Hokies were only able to add a single run. The fifth inning was particularly frustrating as an error extended the 5th, opening the door for Georgia Tech to add 3 runs that proved to be the difference.
The Hokies were able to make it interesting with a pair of RBI doubles from Nick Biddison and Kerry Carpenter in the seventh inning, but were not able to get it closer than 7-5.
Biddison led the way for the Hokies going 3-5 with an RBI double while spending time in center field and at first base. Jack Owens was productive in the leadoff spot going 3-5 with 2 runs as Owens and Biddison, the Hokies' first two hitters, had 6 of Virginia Tech's 10 hits. Luke Horanski was the one bat deeper in the lineup who had some success going 2-4 with his solo home run while Kerry Carpenter had an RBI double and a nice sliding catch that he turned into an outfield assist and double play.
The Hokies used eight pitchers with the final 5 allowing no runs including Alex Havlicek who threw 2 shutout innings after entering today with an ERA above 12 while Dillon Larsen and Nolan Wilson each had a shutout inning in relief.
Virginia Tech's Last Minute Comeback Effort Comes Up Just Short
After plenty of offense in the first half of the doubleheader, pitching took over in the rubber match of the series with Virginia Tech not getting their first till a Tanner Thomas leadoff double in the eighth inning. The Hokies then made a valiant last-ditch attempt in the ninth inning but after walking in a pair of runs, VT came up just short falling to Georgia Tech 4-3 to end the series. Jonathan Hughes was credited with the win after the Georgia Tech reliever had 5 strong innings after Brian Hurter suffered an injury in the third.
It was a pitcher's dual early before an error on a pickoff attempt by the Hokies gave Georgia Tech a better opportunity with Nick Wilhite taking advantage via an RBI single to give the Yellow Jackets a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning. Georgia Tech added to it with a mid at-bat pinch hit RBI single from Charlie Benson followed by another RBI single from Jackson Webb to give the Yellow Jackets a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning. Baron Radcliff added another run via an RBI single to give Georgia Tech a 4-0 lead in the seventh inning.
While Georgia Tech's bats found their rhythm in the middle innings, Virginia Tech wasn't able to get their first hit till a leadoff double for Tanner Thomas in the bottom of the eighth inning. Nick Biddison was able to drive Thomas home with a two-out RBI double in the eighth. The Hokies kept their rally going in the ninth with the first four batters reaching base including a walked in run to make it 4-2. Virginia Tech brought in another run with a two-out, bases-loaded walk for Nick Biddison, but Georgia Tech was able to hold on in the end.
Nick Biddison once again led the way for the Hokies going 1-3 with 2 walks and 2 RBIs including a walk that made it 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Tanner Thomas was 1-2 with 2 walks including one that brought in a run in the bottom of the ninth while Kevin Madden had the only other hit. Zach Brzykcy was the Hokies' best pitcher finishing the game with 2.1 shutout innings allowing 1 hit and 2 walks while striking out 4.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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