COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Citadel starting pitcher Matt Talley threw seven strong innings to lift the third-seeded Bulldogs over second-seeded Virginia Tech, 7-2, in the first game of the NCAA Regional on Friday afternoon at Carolina Stadium.
The 16th-ranked Hokies fell to 38-21 in their first NCAA Tournament game since 2000, while the 30th-ranked Bulldogs improved to 43-20. The Citadel will face the winner of Friday night’s South Carolina/Bucknell game on Saturday at 7 p.m., while the Hokies will face the loser at 2 p.m., in a win-or-go-home elimination game.
Talley scattered eight hits, while walking none, to hold Tech to two runs in his time on the mound. He struck out three batters in improving to 8-3 on the season. All nine hitters in The Citadel’s order recorded at least one hit, with second baseman Bryan Altman leading the way with three base knocks. Third baseman David Greene and catcher Grant Richards each drove in two runs.
Tech starter Justin Wright (8-5) was charged with the loss after giving up six runs on 10 hits and a walk over 5.1 innings. He struck out five batters, but a four-run second inning ultimately did too much damage to overcome. Right fielder Austin Wates and third baseman Tony Balisteri each had three hits for the Hokies.
The Bulldogs got out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second inning. After Altman led off the frame with a double, he moved to third on a base hit by first baseman Justin Mackert. A sacrifice bunt from shortstop Kyle Jordan then brought home Altman and moved Mackert to second before third baseman David Greene lifted his seventh home run of the season over the right-field wall to plate two more runs. The frame’s final tally came from Richards, who walked, moved to third on a single from left fielder William Ladd and touched home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of center fielder Nick Orvin.
The Citadel added a pair of runs to its lead in the top of the sixth thanks to three singles that chased Wright from the game. Mackert led off with a base hit, and Jordan reached on a bunt single that crawled down the first-base line. After Greene advanced both runners up a base on a sacrifice bunt, Richards brought them both home with a two-run single to left-center field.
The Bulldogs tacked on their seventh run in the top of the seventh. After leading off the inning with a single, Orvin made his way to third on a pair of wild pitches by Tech reliever Marc Zecchino. Orvin then came home on Altman’s third hit of the game.
The Hokies broke up the shutout in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a two-run homer to left-center field by Sean Ryan. After Balisteri registered a two-out single, the redshirt senior hit his second long ball of the season – and just the third of his career – to get Tech on the board and cut The Citadel’s lead to 7-2.
The Hokies must win their game on Saturday in order to stay alive in the four-team, double-elimination bracket.
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