The less said about the Jackets’ previous week playing various Tigers, the better. With a few home runs, including a Tristin English grand slam, the Jackets were able to get their minds off of that forgettable series with Clemson, taking home a win in Game 1 by a final score of 16-9.
Suffice it to say that GT entered ACC week 2 with a 9-7 overall and 0-3 ACC Record. The visiting Hokies from VPI&SU came in at 8-8 and 2-1, having beating Pitt in Blacksburg last weekend. The Jackets wanted desperately to escape being the only team winless in conference play.
Xzavion Curry, 3-0, faced off with senior RHP Connor Coward, 1-1. Curry had picked up a win in game one in Blacksburg last year while Coward pitched 5 innings for no decision in the second game.
The teams exchanged homeruns in the first, but second baseman Jack Owens’ solo shot for VT was outdone by Joey Bart’s two-run blast to make it 2-1. The Jackets tacked on two more in their second on hits by Austin Wilhite, Luke Waddell, and Wade Bailey to make it 4-1.
But, the Hokies answered with their own two run homer in the 3rd by Tom Stoffel and would have gotten more without Nick Wilhite’s nice running catch of a deep fly to left center.
The Jackets put four on the scoreboard in their fourth on a solo homerun by Waddell (his first) and hits by Bailey, English, and McCann. English’s was particularly nice, since they intentionally walked Bart to face him.
The Jackets led 8-3, but it didn’t last long. The Hokies scored four of their own as Curry lost some control and gave up four singles and hit a batter. The inning also saw the first TV replay at Russ Chandler after the second base umpire called a Hokie safe on a play where the throw seemed to easily beat him. The call was not overturned and two runs scored afterwards.
Andy Archer relieved Curry in the sixth and gave up a leadoff single before benefiting from a really nice double play by Wade Bailey. GT still led 8-7.
After Coward gave up a leadoff single to Bailey and intentionally walked Bart again, VT brought in sophomore RHP Graham Seitz to face English. “Mr. Doubles” answered by hitting a high fly ball to right when VT had shifted far toward left so it dropped in, scoring Bailey and moving Bart to third. Bart later scored on a wild pitch and it was 10-7 after six innings.
With two out in the bottom of the seventh and Austin Wilhite at third, the Hokies brought in hard-throwing junior LHP Paul Hall, Jr. to face Bailey. He walked Bailey and gave up a RBI single to Chase Murray before walking Bart to load the bases. He was done and freshman LHP Ryan Okuda came in to face English, batting for the third straight time after a Bart walk. He again didn’t waste the opportunity and slugged a grand slam over the wall in right center to make it 15-7. English finished batting 4-for-5 with six RBI!
After Archer got through the eighth, helped by another nice double play, Kel Johnson led off the bottom with a solo pinch-hit home run to right to make it 16-7.
Bailey Combs came in to pitch the ninth for the Jackets. He unfortunately hit the first two batters and they both scored on a double, but Combs then settled down and finished the inning and the Jackets won 16-9. Curry got the win, Coward the loss and GT improved to 10-7 and 1-3.