COLUMBIA, S.C. – Virginia Tech held off The Citadel 4-3 in an elimination game of the NCAA Columbia Regional on Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium, and will now face undefeated host South Carolina at 7 p.m.
Should the Hokies (40-21) defeat the eighth-ranked Gamecocks tonight, the two will meet again on Monday at 7 p.m., to determine who advances to the Super Regional. No matter what happens, the Hokies, 2-1 in the regional, have now won two games in the same NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1954.
The 30th-ranked Bulldogs saw their season come to an end at 43-22.
The Hokies claimed a 1-0 lead in their first trip to the plate when right fielder Austin Wates’ triple to right-center scored Michael Seaborn, who had drawn a one-out walk. It was Wates’ 14th triple of his career, which moved him into a tie for second on Tech’s all-time list with David Dallas (1989-92). Kevin Barker (1994-96) is the school leader with 17 career triples.
Left fielder Buddy Sosnoskie provided the Hokies’ second run with a solo home run to right-center field in the top of the second inning. It was Sosnoskie’s third homer in as many at-bats, as he homered in each of his last two trips to the plate on Saturday. He became the first Hokie to homer in three consecutive at-bats since Sean O’Brien did it on April 4, 2008 against Maryland. It was also the 13th home run of the season for Sosnoskie, who took sole possession of the 2010 team lead.
Tech collected another run in the top of the third inning on an RBI groundout from Wates. After center fielder Sean Ryan began the frame with a base hit, he moved to second on a groundout from Seaborn, to third on an infield hit by catcher Steve Domecus, and to home on Wates’ bouncer to second.
Tech starting pitcher Jesse Hahn cruised through the first three innings, but had to exit the game with a right forearm strain while throwing his warm-up pitches in the top of the fourth. Freshman Joe Mantiply, who was being saved to start Monday’s game if the Hokies made it there, got the emergency call to come in for long relief.
The Citadel’s offense responded by scoring two runs on three hits in the frame, cutting the Virginia Tech lead to one. A one-out double by second baseman Bryan Altman set the table for first baseman Justin Mackert, who delivered a run-scoring single to get the Bulldogs on the board. Three batters later, Mackert came around to touch home on a base knock by catcher Grant Richards.
The Hokies extended their lead back to two in the top of the sixth, making it 4-2. Wates led off with a double before stopping at third on an ensuing single from first baseman Ronnie Shaban. Two batters later, Sosnoskie provided his second RBI of the game with a groundout to second that allowed Wates to race home.
The Citadel inched within a run in the bottom of the seventh. With left fielder William Ladd on second following an error by Tech third baseman Tony Balisteri, right fielder Matt Simonelli poked single to right field to bring Ladd in to score.
Mantiply picked up the win on the mound to improve to 4-1 after allowing three runs (two earned) in 3.2 innings. Hahn allowed just two hits in his three frames, while closer Ben Rowen earned his sixth save after closing out the final 2.1 innings in scoreless fashion.
Bulldog freshman Michael Clevinger (5-3) was tagged with the loss despite a sold effort. He threw a career-high 7.2 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits, while striking out four.
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