BLACKSBURG, Va. – First baseman Ronnie Shaban blasted a go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning as No. 25 Virginia Tech rallied for a hard-fought 9-7 Atlantic Coast Conference baseball victory over ninth-ranked Miami at English Field on Friday. The win snapped a seven-game Miami winning streak.
Tech, which improved to 22-10 overall and 7-6 in the ACC, battled back from a 6-1 deficit to tie the game with a five-run sixth inning. After falling behind again in the top of the seventh, the Hokies rode Shaban’s long ball to the lead. Tech staved off the Hurricanes’ final bid in the ninth thanks to the quick reflexes of relief pitcher Ben Rowen, who snagged a hard line drive hit back to the mound with Miami runners at second and third and two outs.
Rowen, who worked the final 2.1 innings, earned the victory, his second of the season without a loss. The senior submariner allowed three hits but did not give up a run or walk a batter. Eric Whaley, the third of five Miami pitchers, took the loss, his first against three wins. The Hurricanes are now 22-8 on the season with a 10-3 ACC record.
Tech catcher Steve Domecus broke a scoreless tie when he led off the bottom of the third inning with his ninth home run of the season. The Hokies’ lead didn’t hold up for long, however, as the Hurricanes used a pair of hits and a Tech miscue to grab a 2-1 advantage in the fourth. Miami first baseman Scott Lawson was hit by a pitch to begin the inning. Lawson moved to second on a single by catcher Yasmani Grandal and trotted home on a double by third baseman Harold Martinez. Grandal moved to third on the double and raced home when Tech second baseman Michael Seaborn committed a fielding error on the relay throw.
Left fielder Chris Pelaez smacked a three-run homer to right field and Nathan Melendres scored on a passed ball to stake Miamito a 6-1 lead in the sixth inning. Grandal, who singled for the third time, and Martinez, who reached on the fourth of Tech’s season-high six errors, scored ahead of the Pelaez round-tripper. Melendres doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch before scoring.
After picking up just three hits against Miami starting pitcher Chris Hernandez over the first five innings, Tech came alive in the sixth inning, collecting five runs on five hits and chasing Hernandez in the process. Shortstop Tim Smalling doubled and scored the first run of the frame on a one-out single by Shaban. A double by designated hitter Anthony Sosnoskie moved Shaban to third, where he scored on a wild pitch. With two outs, center fielder Sean Ryan connected on his first homer of the season and just the second of his career, to end Hernandez’s day. Reliever E.J. Encinosa walked third baseman Tony Balisteri, who promptly stole second base and came around to tie the game on a single by Domecus.
Miami reclaimed the lead briefly in the seventh, while facing three different Tech pitchers. Stephen Perez singled and eventually crossed the plate on a two-out single by Martinez. In the bottom of the inning, left fielder Buddy Sosnoskie drew a lead-off walk from ‘Canes reliever Eric Whaley and Wates contributed a one-out single to set the stage for Shaban, who connected on a 3-1 pitch, sending it deep over the fence in right center field for his fifth home run of the year.
Shaban led Tech with four runs batted in and was one of five Hokies to finish with two hits. He was joined by Domecus, Smalling, Wates and Ryan. Miami out-hit the Hokies 12-11, with Grandal producing four hits and Pelaez two.
The two teams are scheduled to resume the three-game series on Saturday in a game to be televised by Fox Sports South. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Baseball).