The deciding game of the series featured Tristin English in his first start going against redshirt senior RHP Luke Scherzer for the Hokies. It paid off for the Jackets, although English was pulled after 39 pitches due to being only 14 months removed from surgery. I have learned that Tristin prefers not to hit when pitching, but who would Coach Hall put in his place? Anyway, English went 2 for 5 with 2 RBI.
Coach Hall also shook up the batting lineup for Sunday, leading off with Murray and moving Bailey to batting third, with McCann cleanup and English fifth. Both Wilhite twins finished the order. In his post game interview, he said Mike Nickeas has been doing some analytics on the batting order. Murray as a leadoff batter was a big success, with a single and two doubles in the first three innings, scoring each time.
The top of the first featured high drama when English walked one and two singles loaded the bases with no outs. Waddell then fielded a bouncer and bobbled it before getting the force out at home. The next batter hit a sinking liner that Murray caught and threw home too late. But the Jackets then threw to third and the runner was ruled out for not tagging. But, VT appealed and it was overturned, so one run scored and the inning continued amidst much confusion. English dug deep and struck out the next batter with the Hokies leading 1-0. The Jackets struck back in the bottom of the first, aided by some poor VT defense. McCann, English, and Waddell all had RBI singles and Tech led 3-1. In the bottom of the 2nd, VT brought in Dylan Hall to pitch, a right handed sophomore. He failed to get an out and was relieved by Joey Sullivan, who gave up a two run homer to McCann on the first pitch. Since Bart had already homered with Murray on, it was 7-1 Jackets. The Jackets had batted around in both the first two innings.
The top of the 3rd featured a fine diving catch by Nick Wilhite in deep right center to rob a double from Horanski, reminding me of Ryan Peurifoy at his best. The Jackets added two in their 3rd on RBI singles by Bailey and English after Waddell led off with a double. Andy Archer relieved English on the mound for the 4th, but Tristen stayed as DH. After Archer retired the Hokies, the Jackets scored their tenth and final run in the bottom of the fourth in bizarre fashion. Austin Wilhite doubled and brother Nick popped up a bunt to the pitcher trying to move him to 3rd. But, Sullivan then tried to double up Austin at 2nd and threw the ball all the way to the right center wall. Wilhite had time to get up and score on the error.
I had to leave at this point, so what follows is second hand. Fortunately, I had seen all the Jacket scoring and VT couldn’t climb back, despite a five run 7th. It seems troubling that Jonathan Hughes wasn’t able to get past the 7th without damage and Robert Winborne only retired one out before Jared Datoc came in and put out the fire, preserving the 10-6 win. The Jackets improved to 11-8 and 2-4 with the crucial series win. Andy Archer was credited with the win and Scherzer the loss. Auburn and Mercer loom this week followed by a trip to red hot NC State, who just swept Clemson on the road.
Finally, I would appreciate some criticism or comments or questions for feedback. Thanks!