The Virginia Tech baseball team started slow, not scoring its first run until the fifth inning, but battled back to defeat Coastal Carolina 4-3 in 10 innings.
After taking two-of-three games from No. 6 Miami, the Hokies failed to hit with runners on base, especially in scoring position. The win, the Hokies third straight walk-off, improves their record to 26-13.
“It’s awesome, there’s nothing like it,” said head coach Pete Hughes. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Ronnie Shaban, the Hokies’ leader and one of their top hitters, said walk-off wins are special every time around.
“It feels the same every time, it’s awesome,” Shaban said. “It’s a lot of fun to win that way. You never get used to that. There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of adrenaline. It’s about as pumped up as you can be on the
The Chanticleers (24-12) got on the board in the third inning on a Jacob May single with the bases loaded.
The Hokies avoided further error, as Coastal Carolina grounded into a double play fielder’s choice to hold the score at 2-0.
In the fifth inning, the Hokies got one run back on a Brendon Hayden RBI single to score Chad Pinder.
“Hayden is one of our best hitters right now,” Hughes said. “I can’t take him out of the lineup. Everything he hits is on the barrel.”
Trailing 3-1 in the eighth inning, left fielder Tyler Horan homered on the first pitch he saw from Chanticleers ace reliever Aaron Burke, cutting the lead to 3-2.
“Personally, I know I hit sidearm guys really well,” Horan said. “Honestly, when it was coming at me, I thought I should take the pitch because it looked a little low. I predetermined I was going to hit it, so I just did.”
The Hokies stranded 11 on the night, proving that without hitting with men on base is not in the formula for winning baseball.
“I think we did a decent job late with that, but in these games, you have to hit with runners in scoring position,” Hughes said.
In the bottom of the ninth, Brendon Hayden singled, and then was advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Gabe Ortiz then bunted back to the pitcher, but the errant throw to first base allowed pinch runner Kyle Wernicki to score from second.
“Our guys keep grinding, and all I can ask is for is the team to compete, play with energy, then play composed under pressure,” Hughes said.
After Tanner McIntrye shut down the Chanticleers in the top of the 10th, the Hokies had all the momentum for another walk-off win.
“Our bullpen was awesome,” Hughes said. “I work with our hitters most of the time, so I don’t work around the pitchers too much, so I don’t give them the credit that they deserve most of the time.”
Shaban, who is now hitting .333 on the season, went 2-for-5 Tuesday night, including a big double to lead off the bottom of the 10th.
After falling into a 0-2 count, he doubled into the left-center field gap, diving into second base on a tender
“(The leg) felt surprisingly good,” Shaban said. “It was dark out there (in the outfield), so I lost the ball. I was just trying to move as fast as I could to get to second base.”
Chad Pinder, who legged out a single, bunted over pinch runner Carson Helms to third base. Then, with the infield in, Wernicki lined a single back through the middle to give the Hokies the win.
“That’s really huge,” Shaban said. “Great teams play really well in tight games. We’re in a one run game, they go up two, we battle right back. Then we score a big run, another big run — that’s how you determine if you’re a great team or not. We’re playing great baseball right now.”
The Hokies, who travel for a road ACC series this weekend at Wake Forest, are riding high.
“You can’t feel better emotionally going into a big series than where we are right now,” Hughes said.