BLACKSBURG, Va. – Behind an almost complete game effort from Marc Zecchino and a Hokies offense that pounded out 14 hits, Virginia Tech defeated #12 Georgia Tech, 7-5, in ACC action at English Field Friday night.
In all, six Hokies had two hits to help the team improve to 30-24 on the season, 11-18 in conference play. The Yellow Jackets dropped to 38-17, 21-8 in the ACC.
Virginia Tech needed to rally in the bottom of the third, though, to erase an early two-run deficit. Four straight two-out hits brought home four straight runs with Johnny Morales plating the first on a single by Michael Seaborn.
After Seaborn stole second, Tim Smalling followed with a single, scoring Seaborn. Andrew Rash then doubled to bring in Smalling, with Rash notching his team-leading 53rd RBI. Ronnie Shaban followed with a single, plating Rash with run number 49 for the year, and it was Shaban’s 52nd RBI.
The next inning, Morales blasted his first home run of the run, scoring Jake Atwell and pushing the Tech lead to 6-2 and Smalling knocked in his second RBI of the night, scoring Seaborn with his team-leading 53rd run of the year.
The triple was the 26th of the year for the Hokies, setting the school record and bettering the 1994 squad by one.
That would be all the run support Zecchino would need in the contest. After allowing two early runs – a sacrifice fly in the second and an RBI ground out in the third – he quieted the Yellow Jackets’ bats.
After allowing a leadoff single in the third, he retired 10 straight before allowing a solo home run to Matt Skole, which led off the sixth. He retired the next nine and took the 7-3 advantage into the ninth frame.
He allowed a leadoff double, struck out his seventh Georgia Tech batter, allowed another double – which scored a run – then got a ground ball for the second out of the inning.
Zecchino thought he had a strikeout to end the game, but went surrendered a walk and a double, putting the tying run on second base.
Virginia Tech brought in Shaban to end the game, and after another walk, he struck out Jacob Esch to end the game.
With the win, Zecchino improved to 6-5 and Shaban earned his third save. Yellow Jacket starter Jed Bradley suffered the loss and fell to 6-3.
The teams will complete the three-game series with the rubber match Saturday with first pitch slated for 2 p.m. The Hokies will honor the senior members of their team before and during the contest.
Additional Notes: Morales' home run was the Hokies 60th round tripper of the year. Shaban also had a double in the fifth, the 56th of his career, tying for fourth all-time at the school. Smalling notched his fifth triple of the year, tying for sixth all-time in a single season at the school. Zecchino (most likely done for the season) finished with 85 innings pitched and 97 strikeouts, just five shy of the top five for a single season (Joe Saunders, 102, 2002). He also passed 150 strikeouts for his career, now with 154.
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