The Virginia Tech baseball team completed its weekend series on Monday with a 5-3 victory over the Delaware Blue Hens.
The win was the third of the weekend for the Hokies (7-1) after starting off the weekend with a 3-7 loss to Temple.
After two innings of scoreless baseball the Hokies put two runs on the board in the bottom of the third frame.
Kyle Wernicki, who made his first start of the season, drew a walk to lead off the inning. After a Chad Morgan sacrifice bunt advanced Wernicki to second, Andrew Rash laced a single up the middle to score Wernicki. The next batter, Tyler Horan, beat the pitcher to the bag on a routine groundball to first base for another single; on that same play, Rash, who advanced to second on his single, never stopped running and rounded third to score the second run of the inning.
The Hokies were able to maintain the two-run lead for four innings, as starter Devin Burke extended his scoreless innings streak to 10 innings. However, after 48 pitches through four innings, a 31-pitch fifth frame saw three Blue Hens cross home plate.
Only one of three runs was earned, however, as a Burke wild pitch and an Andrew Rash misplay in the outfield accounted for two of the three Hokies errors on the day.
Burke didn’t allow the hiccup to shake him.
“In the first four innings they hit the ball right at people; in the fifth, they hit the ball as they had been but they found holes,” Burke said. “That’s baseball, that’s going to happen. I wasn’t worried about it.”
The Hokies, as they have all year, responded immediately, putting up three runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth.
“That was huge because we answered on a very tough day offensively,” said coach Pete Hughes. “For us to answer with three was huge, and it answered a lot of questions I had about our team being resilient and playing from behind.”
The Hokies first run of the inning came on a Chad Morgan double that scored Sean Keselica.
“It was a big swing of momentum,” Morgan said. “For us to bounce back with three runs of our own was a big turning point in the game.”
Hughes thought it was important to respond quickly.
With the lead back in the hands of the Hokies, Burke settled down and pitched another 2.2 innings of scoreless ball. He finished his second start of the season allowing just the one earned run.
Hughes then made the decision to put the ball in the hands of reliever Clark Labitan, who came in and retired four straight for his team-leading third save.
Burke was the final starter named to the rotation before the start of the season by Hughes, and he will have to earn his spot every start out there.
“I just want to give my team a chance to win as best I can,” Burke said. “That’s my mindset. As soon as I come out here it’s make effective pitches. Ground ball, strikeouts, whatever, just outs. Collect outs.”
So far, he’s done just that. His record is now 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA.
Tech, ranked No. 25 in the most recent Baseball America poll and also received six votes in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.
The Hokies will take the field next on Wednesday as they host the Radford Highlanders at 3 p.m.