O'Brien's homer sparks Hokies
First baseman hits walk-off homer to foil Appalachian State
April 12, 2006 BLACKSBURG, Va. - First baseman Sean O'Brien's (Chappaqua, N.Y.) walk-off homer over the left field fence powered Virginia Tech to a 5-4 triumph over Appalachian State in a non-conference baseball game Wednesday night at English Field. The victory moves Tech to 14-19 on the season, while the Mountaineers drop to 13-19-1. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, O'Brien drove a three-two pitch out to left field for his third home run of the season to break a 4-4 tie. It was the Hokies' first win this season via a walk-off home run. O'Brien's homer bailed out junior reliever Greg Fryman (Gibsonia, Pa.), who had surrendered the tying run in the previous half-inning. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, David Rubinstein singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. That set up Bryan Ford's game-tying double which was mishandled in left field. Fryman picked up the win, his third of the season, with an inning and two-thirds of relief, allowing one run on three hits, while striking out three. ASU took an early 1-0 lead without the benefit of a base hit. Second baseman Ben Billingsley drew a one-out walk and then came around to score on a pair of wild pitches. Tech starting pitcher Randy Buffington (Virginia Beach, Va.) threw just one-third of an inning after issuing three walks and two wild pitches in the top of the first. Relief pitcher Rhett Ballard (High Point, N.C.) came on and worked seven innings of relief, allowing six hits and two unearned runs. The 6-foot-6 right-hander also struck out five. The Hokies tied the game in the third inning. Thomas led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a fielder's choice and came around to score on shortstop Warren Schaeffer's (Vandergrift, Pa.) RBI-double. It was the junior shortstop's 22nd run batted in this season. The Mountaineers regained the lead the following inning with a pair of unearned runs. Center fielder Chris Baker singled and third baseman Nick DeRose walked before an error allowed both runners to score with two outs. Tech jumped back in front with a two-out rally in the next half-inning. Catcher Jose Rojas (Paterson, N.J.) and designated hitter Luke Padgett (Lynchburg, Va.) collected back-to-back two-out singles and came around to score on Thomas' game-tying triple to left field. It was the junior's team-leading 35th and 36th RBIs this season. The Hokies then took the lead when center fielder Nate Parks (Roanoke, Va.) beat out an infield hit, which allowed Thomas to score from third. Rojas, Padgett and Thomas led the Hokie offense with two hits each, while Thomas chipped in a pair of RBIs. Tech will travel to No. 2 North Carolina for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series beginning Friday at 7 p.m., in Chapel Hill, N.C.