BLACKSBURG, Va. – Andrew Rash hit a two-run home run and Ronnie Shaban notched career hit No. 200, but Virginia Tech fell to 12th-ranked Georgia Tech on Thursday night in ACC action at English Field, 11-4.
With the win, the Yellow Jackets improved to 38-16 overall and 21-7 in the ACC, while Virginia Tech dropped to 29-24 overall and 10-18 in conference action.
The visitors put the first runs on the board in the third on an RBI double by Jacob Esch and a Matt Skole RBI single, which plated DeAndre Smelter and Kyle Wren who each reached base after being hit by a pitch.
The Hokies tied the score in the bottom of the frame after Georgia Tech starter Mark Pope walked his third batter of the game, tying a career-high. Tim Smalling drew the free pass and Rash followed with his 18th round tripper of the season and pushing his team-lead to 52 RBI.
The score remained tied for three more frames until Chad Morgan hit a one-out double in the bottom of the sixth and scored on a Johnny Morales single to right.
The Yellow Jackets answered right back with a solo home run by Esch with one out in the top of the seventh, marking the first home run allowed by Hokie starter Joe Mantiply in more than 52 innings. After getting the second out a batter later, two straight singles and a walk ended the lefty’s night.
Manny Martir came in from the pen and got a ground ball, which would have ended the frame, but an error allowed two runs to score and Zane Evans drove in another to put the Yellow Jackets up 6-3. They plated five insurance runs in the top of the eighth to make it 11-3.
The runs were of some importance, as the Hokies tried to rally. Michael Seaborn drew a lead-off walk and Shaban laced a double to center for his milestone hit, which plated Seaborn with his team-high 51st run and Shaban’s 51st RBI. With two outs, the Hokies had the bases loaded but could not get another run, stranded a total of 13 runners in the contest.
Pope improved to 11-3 with the victory, while Mantiply dropped to 5-8 with the loss.
The two teams will play the middle game of the three-game series on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Additional Notes: The Hokies now have three players with 200 career hits on the team, as Smalling and Seaborn each notched their milestone hit earlier this season. Shaban becomes just the sixth junior in Tech history to reach 200 hits. The double was Shaban’s 55th of his career, fifth on the school’s all-time list and one behind Sean O’Brien (2004-08). Tech turned two double plays in the game, giving the team 57 on the year, just nine shy of the school record. One was on an outfield assist from Tony Balisteri, his sixth assist from the outfield this year. The Hokies committed three errors in the game, which included one by Shaban, ending his streak of 448 chances at first without an error.
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