May 14, 2009
Wates' walk-off homer in the 10th lifts Hokies over No. 10 UVa
Ballard strikes out nine in final home start
(10) Virginia (38-11-1) 10001100104103
Virginia Tech (31-20) 0020200001580
  • English Field - 583

BLACKSBURG, Va.Virginia Tech first baseman Austin Wates hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Hokies to dramatic 5-4 win over the 10th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers on Thursday night at English Field.

Wates’ fifth homer of the season upped the Hokies’ record to 31-20 overall and 11-16 in the ACC, keeping them in contention for the final spot in next week’s ACC Tournament. It was Tech’s first victory over Virginia (38-11-1, 15-10-1 ACC) since 2003, ending a 12-game losing streak to the Cavaliers.

Wates also had a single and a double in the contest, and is hitting .568 with 11 doubles, two triples and three home runs over his last 11 games. Left fielder Klint Reed added two hits for the Hokies and is now hitting .342 on the year.

Tech reliever Ben Rowen (4-2) earned the win by tossing the final two innings in scoreless, one-hit fashion, but redshirt senior pitcher Rhett Ballard turned in a nice performance in his final start at English Field. Ballard scattered nine hits and four walks over eight innings of work, and struck out nine batters to tie his season high, as well as his ACC career high. The nine strikeouts upped his career total to 262, moving him past current Major Leaguer Joe Saunders (2000-02) and into fourth place on Tech’s all-time list. Bean Stringfellow (1982-85) is in third place with 266 strikeouts.

Virginia reliever Tyler Wilson took the loss to fall to 6-3.

The Cavaliers wasted no time taking a 1-0 lead, as Virginia center fielder Jarrett Parker sent the first pitch of the game over the left field fence for his 15th home run of the season.

The Hokies claimed a 2-1 advantage in the bottom of the third thanks to a pair of sacrifices and a wild pitch. After shortstop Ronnie Shaban led off with a walk and Reed stroked a base hit, center fielder Steve Bumbry moved them each up a base with his second sac bunt of the year. A wild pitch by Virginia starter Matt Packer then allowed Shaban to score and Reed to move to third. Catcher Anthony Sosnoskie followed with a sac fly to center – his team-leading seventh of the season – to plate Reed.

The Cavaliers tied things up in the top of the fifth. Shortstop Tyler Cannon, catcher Franco Valdes and second baseman Keith Werman started the inning with three consecutive singles to load the bases. After Ballard struck out Parker, Virginia designated hitter Phil Gosselin sent a groundout to first that scored Cannon.

The Hokies used three errors by Virginia third baseman Steven Proscia to tally a pair of runs in the bottom half of the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. Tech third baseman Tony Balisteri reached first on a fielding error to lead off the frame. Shaban followed with an infield single, but the errant throw allowed Balisteri to come all the way home as Shaban advanced to third. Following a pair of strikeouts, Sosnoskie sent another grounder to the hot corner, and another wild throw to first allowed Shaban to score his second run of the game.

Virginia got one of those runs right back in the top of the sixth when right fielder Dan Grovatt hit a leadoff home run just over the left field fence, making it 4-3 Hokies.

The Cavaliers got another leadoff homer in the top of the ninth – this one from Valdes – to knot the game at four runs apiece, and Wilson held Tech scoreless in the bottom of the ninth to send the Hokies into just their second extra-inning game of the season.

Game two of the three-game series is set for Friday at 5:30 p.m.

For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Baseball).

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