Hokies rally for win at Radford
Tech scores five runs in the ninth inning
March 5, 2008

RADFORD, Va. - Virginia Tech rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth inning and held on to snap Radford University's six-game winning streak with a 7-6 victory at Dedmon Center Park on Wednesday. Tech improved to 7-3 with the win, while the Highlanders are now 6-2.

Radford broke a 2-2 tie with a run in the third and built a 6-2 advantage heading into the ninth inning. The Hokies, who never led until that final inning, found something in the ninth that they had been searching for the entire game - clutch hits.

Senior second baseman Matt Hacker (Richmond, Va.) started the Tech rally with a leadoff single. After designated hitter Matt Blow (Richmond, Va.) was hit by a pitch from Radford reliever Josh Hammonds, the Highlanders went to the bullpen for freshman Abram Williams. Tech third baseman Ty Hohman (Tomball, Texas) greeted Williams with a single that loaded the bases. A costly fielding error at third on a grounder by freshman Tony Balisteri allowed a run and kept the bases loaded.

Following the error, Williams bounced back to strike out the next two Tech batters he faced, leaving the Hokies three runs down with one out remaining. Senior first baseman Sean O'Brien (Chappaqua, N.Y.) responded with the first of three straight clutch singles for Tech. O'Brien's hit brought home two runs to pull the Hokies within one. Catcher Anthony Sosnoskie (Front Royal, Va.) followed with an infield hit along the third base line that nobody could reach in time to make a play, and the result was a tie game. Sophomore right fielder Steve Bumbry stepped in next and drove a single to right for the go-ahead run.

Tech reliever Rhett Ballard (High Point, N.C.), who entered the game with one out in the seventh inning, saw the Highlanders put two runners on base with one out in the ninth before recording back-to-back strikeouts to end the game and secure his first win of the season. Ballard (1-1) struck out six batters in his 2.2 innings, while holding Radford scoreless on one hit.

The Hokies finished the game with 14 hits, including three apiece by Sosnoskie and freshman left fielder Austin Wates (Richmond, Va.). O'Brien, Bumbry and Hacker added two hits each. Sosnoskie and O'Brien both accounted for a pair of RBIs.

The final inning was a complete turnaround from the rest of the game. Radford starting pitcher Cassidy McDaniel held Tech to two runs on seven hits during seven innings on the mound. The Hokies had trouble pushing runs across against the freshman right-hander. Tech got its first two men aboard in the second and fourth innings and had a leadoff double in the fifth, but failed to score a single run.

Radford, meanwhile, took advantage of two hits and some wildness by Tech starting pitcher Rob Whitley (Danville, Va.) to score a pair of first-inning runs. Leadoff man Tyren Rivers singled to start the inning for the Highlanders. Rivers moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt, took third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch. RU first baseman Alex Gregory reached on another single and scored the second run three wild pitches later.

The Hokies managed to even the score in the third inning when Wates reached on a one-out single, moved to third on a hit-and-run single by center fielder Sean Ryan (Ashburn, Va.) and scored on a failed pickoff attempt by McDaniel. Sosnoskie drove home Ryan with a single to tie the game.

A run-scoring double by Mario Duarte put Radford on top 3-2 in the third inning. In the fourth, a squeeze bunt by Nick Minter increased the margin to 4-2 and an inning later, a successful double-steal put RU in front 5-2. The Highlanders added their final run in the seventh.

Virginia Tech is scheduled to open Atlantic Coast Conference play with a three-game series against Georgia Tech that begins with a 4 p.m., game on Friday in Atlanta.