Virginia Tech was one of just 12 undefeated teams in Division I coming into this weekend’s series against Bryant. The Hokies (8-2) were unable to keep their winning streak alive against the Bulldogs (4-5), but head coach John Szefc is still proud of the way his team has started the season.
“Our pitching and defense has been pretty solid for the most part and that’s really where it starts,” Szefc said. “You have no chance unless you pitch and play defense. We do have that going for us at this point.”
Tech lost Friday’s series opener 6-4 before splitting a doubleheader with Bryant on Saturday. The Hokies were able to get a win in the first game of the day but fell behind in the third game of the series.
Even though they lost the series, Szefc is looking at the positives from this weekend.
“People can look at this weekend as being a failure. Obviously when you lose a home weekend it is a partial failure as far as the outcome goes,” Szefc said. “But the fact that we pitched so well and that so many guys had good outings against, I think one of the best teams we’ve played this year, if not the best, that’s a definite positive.”
Tech gave up six runs on Friday night, but between the two games on Saturday, the pitching staff only gave up five runs to the Bulldogs. Four of those runs were earned.
Chris Gerard got the start in the first game on Saturday. He pitched 5.2 innings, giving up just one run on seven hits and striking out four batters. Senior Luke Scherzer took the mound for the second game. He lasted four innings, giving up three runs on four hits and striking out four batters.
“You can’t really ask a pitching staff to do much more than what they did,” Szefc said. “That’s where it starts. That was a really, really good day on the mound for our guys.”
The early game of the doubleheader was tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. With runners on first and third with one out, Nick Biddision stole home to give the Hokies the go-ahead run that would eventually earn them the win.
The later game was a bit different. Bryant scored in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to clinch a 4-2 victory over the Hokies, who had trouble scoring runs all weekend. Despite the lack of offense, the players stayed loud all game, cheering on their teammates.
“It helps you get through a day like this where it’s a long day and you need a lot of energy to get through it,” Szefc said of his players’ excitement levels. “When you’re not scoring any runs, it certainly helps guys to keep going. You’d rather have a vocal bunch than a non-vocal bunch I can tell you that.”
Tech mustered up just 18 hits throughout the three game series. Jack Owens led the team with four hits on the weekend, going 4-for-11 against Bryant. Kerry Carpenter hit the only home run of the series, a solo shot to right center in the fifth inning of game three.
While there wasn’t a whole lot of offense from Tech, Szefc would rather have the pitching be on track at this point in the season.
“I’d much rather have our offense be behind our defense which is exactly what’s going on right now,” Szefc said. “Normally offensively, you’ll come a little bit, but if you don’t pitch and play defense you have no chance. That’s the thing we really do have going for us.”
The Hokies have a couple of days off before traveling to Lynchburg on Tuesday to take on Liberty. The Flames are 8-3 on the season and coming off a weekend sweep of Maine. Tuesday’s game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor