MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – After an emotional 3-1 victory over Coastal Carolina on Saturday afternoon, Virginia Tech dropped the second game of the day, 7-1 to George Mason, to split its second day of action at the Caravelle Resort’s Baseball at the Beach tournament at BB&T Coastal Field.
The Hokies, who won their first game over the Chanticleers in six tries, ended the day with a 5-2 record, while Coastal Carolina fell to 2-3 with the loss and the Patriots improved to 3-3 with their win. Interestingly, all three of the Chanticleers losses in 2012 have been to ACC teams – Boston College and Virginia as well.
The starters in the first game each did not allow an earned run in their first starts of the year and each carried that streak four frames into Saturday’s contest.
Tech was the first to strike on Josh Conway. After retiring seven straight, Andrew Rash led off the fifth with a double and Tyler Horan followed with one of his own to plate Rash. A frame later, Jake Atwell tripled to lead off the sixth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Perez and the Hokies led 2-0.
Meanwhile, Mantiply stranded four Chanticleers through five frames, but ran into a bit of trouble in the sixth. A one-out single followed by two walks loaded the bases. Bryce Dial grounded sharply to third and Chad Pinder tug third and tried to finish the double play, but Dial just beat the throw to plate Rich Witten with Coastal’s only run of the game.
After a hit batter loaded the bases again, Jake Joyce was called upon to relieve Mantiply, who went 5.2 innings with five strikeouts. Joyce struck out pinch hitter Keith Picconi to end the threat and the Hokie bullpen – Atwell (1 IP), Clark Labitan (1 IP) and Ronnie Shaban (1 IP) – did its job, shutting down the Coastal offense the rest of the way to give Tech the win.
Shaban, who scored an unearned insurance run in the ninth inning, allowed a lead-off single in the bottom of the ninth, but got the final three outs – the final with a strikeout looking – to earn his third save of the year.
Pinder may have had the game-saving play, though, when pinch hitter Tripp Martin laced a one-out grounder down the third base line. Pinder dove, gloved and fired to second to get the lead runner for the second out of the game, but it could have easily been second and third with just one out.
George Mason quickly jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second game of the day for Tech, as Dan Schafferman hit a grand slam in the third inning off Hokie starter Marc Zecchino. It was the first earned runs allowed by Zecchino this year and the first home run allowed by the Hokie pitching staff.
The only run Tech could muster off of Patriot starter Anthony Montefusco was in the sixth, when Atwell hit a one-out triple and scored on Perez’ RBI single.
The Hokies return to field Sunday with their final game of the weekend against Iowa at Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field with a 10 a.m. first pitch.
Additional Notes: Head Coach Pete Hughes notched his 800th career game as a head coach in the victory over Coastal Carolina (285th at Tech). Pinder has hit safely in all seven games this season, while Pinder, Horan, Shaban and Atwell have reached base in all seven games. Rash’s double in the first game was his 100th in a Tech uniform and his 201st total base. Horan leads the team with a .433 on-base percentage, which includes four walks and three hit-by-pitches. Mantiply picked up his 10th career win as a Hokie with his victory over Coastal. Shaban has already matched his save total from a year ago.
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