The Virginia Tech baseball team continued its recent surge through the upper echelon of college baseball, defeating the No. 14 Miami Hurricanes twice in a three-game series this weekend.
With the series win, the Hokies moved up five spots to No. 20 in the Baseball America top 25.
Much like the previous week when the Hokies (27-7, 8-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) took a series against the Florida State Seminoles for the first time in its history, Tech made history again by winning its first series against Miami (23-9, 11-4 ACC).
Despite reaching yet another milestone this week for the Tech baseball program, head coach Pete Hughes could not say he was surprised and was unapologetic about his team’s recent success over two major college baseball powerhouses.
“We have more talent than (Miami),” Hughes said. “No one wants to hear it, but we’ve got better pitching, we have a deeper lineup, more experience. We can make moves in the bullpen late in the game that they couldn’t move. At Florida State, we had better pitching, we’re a better offensive club, and we played better defense.
“I can’t apologize for being better than people that we haven’t been in the past,” he said. “All I know is we’ve paid the price for it by getting all these kids in there young and learning from failure and gaining experience and getting better from it.”
Excellent pitching propelled the Hokies to victory on Friday and Sunday.
Junior pitcher Justin Wright worked six innings on Friday and only allowed three earned runs in a 9-7 win for Tech. Senior relief pitcher Ben Rowen shut down the Hurricanes late for Tech with 2.1 innings pitched and no runs allowed to
pick up his second victory of the season.
At the plate, a stiff wind blowing out to left field aided the Hokies with home runs by catcher Steve Domecus, center fielder Sean Ryan and first baseman Ronnie Shaban, whose three run shot
gave the Hokies the lead in the seventh for good.
On Sunday, junior Jesse Hahn did not have his best fastball, but he went to his secondary pitches and only allowed two earned runs in seven innings of work. Miami appeared to be getting to Hahn early in the second inning when he allowed his only two runs, but the emotional pitcher kept his cool, something he has improved upon vastly in the last year.
“That second inning kind of got out of control,” Hughes said. “Freshman year — last year — the wheels come off (for Hahn).”
Once again, Rowen came in to close the game out with two scoreless innings and three strikeouts.
“He’s unbelieavable,” Hughes said. “That’s why when I give him the ball, I sit back and say, ‘I’m gonna sleep good tonight no matter what happens,’ because I trust the kid, because he’s paid the price.”
Redshirt junior shortstop Tim Smalling led the way on offense Sunday, going 3-for-4 with a home run and 2 RBIs.
Sophomore Mathew Price struggled on the mound Saturday, giving up three homers and eight earned runs in just 2.2 innings of work in a 9-2 loss. Even though his starter struggled, Hughes was pleased with his bullpen, a weak point for much of the season, which only gave up one run over the remaining 6.1 innings.
Tech will play a home game at English Field against North Carolina A&T at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, before hitting the road to Charlottesville for a weekend series against No. 2 Virginia.