March 3, 2012
    Hokies dominant in home-opening wins
    Five players drive in four runs each in doubleheader sweep
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    BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech played its first two games of the season at newly enhanced English Field, which now features AstroTurf, on Saturday afternoon and looked right at home.

    The Hokies took both ends of a doubleheader against Yale, 15-3 and 12-2, to improve their record to 9-2 overall, while the Bulldogs dropped to 0-2, playing their first two games of the season.

    Five different Hokies – Kyle Wernicki, Chad Morgan, Alex Perez, Johnny Morales and Chad Pinder – all collected four RBI in the two games, while Morgan scored five runs. As a team, the Hokies had 28 hits on the day, 10 going for extra base hits.

    The Hokies used home runs to take control of the opening game of the twin-bill. Tech turned to the long ball after breaking a 3-3 tie on an RBI-single by second baseman Perez in the bottom of the fourth inning. A solo homer from right fielder Jake Atwell and a two-run blast from catcher Morgan in the fifth inning, followed by a solo shot off the bat of third baseman Pinder in the sixth, produced an 8-3 lead. The Hokies then finished the game out with three runs in the seventh inning and four in the eighth.

    Tech opened the scoring in the game with a two-run second inning. Atwell got the Hokies started with his third triple of the season. Back-to-back hit batsmen by Yale starting pitcher Eric Hsieh loaded the bases with one out, setting up a sacrifice fly by Morgan with one out. Tech designated hitter Mark Zagunis followed with a run-scoring single.

    Yale grabbed the lead briefly, scoring three runs in the top of the third on three hits and a costly Tech throwing error. Second baseman David Toups and first baseman Kevin Fortunato posted RBI-singles in the inning for the Bulldogs.

    Six Tech players – Atwell, Morgan, Pinder, Perez, shortstop Morales and center fielder Andrew Rash – collected two hits apiece. Morgan contributed three runs batted in, while Atwell, Pinder, Perez and Morales had two each.

    The beneficiary of the Hokies’ 15-run, 16-hit attack was junior left-hander Joe Mantiply who started and pitched seven full innings. Mantiply gave up five hits and three runs, all unearned in improving his record to 2-0. He struck out six batters and did not issue a walk.

    Hsieh took the pitching loss for the Yale, while right fielder Charlie Neil led the Bulldogs with two hits in four at bats.

    In the nightcap, the Hokies picked up right where they left off in the opener – putting together big innings. After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, Tech scored three runs in the second inning, four in the third and five in the fifth to build a comfortable 12-2 lead.

    One of the ringleaders for Tech during that five-inning span was redshirt freshman outfielder Wernicki who contributed three hits, three RBI and three runs scored over his first three at bats. His two-run triple sparked the four-run third inning.

    The Hokies made the most of their 12 hits in the game plating 12 runs. Morales and Morgan joined Wernicki with multiple hits, posting two apiece. Morales, Pinder and Perez finished with two runs batted in each.

    Starting pitcher Marc Zecchino improved his record to 2-1 with six solid innings, allowing six hits and two runs. The redshirt senior struck out two batters and walked one. Relievers Andrew Aizenstadt, Ricky Hodges and Clark Labitan each worked a scoreless inning to close out the win.

    Yale equaled its first-game total for hits with seven. Designated hitter Josh Scharff and catcher Ryan Brenner had two hits each. Scharff drove in both runs for the Bulldogs with singles in the first and third innings.

    Christopher O’Hare, the first of five Yale pitchers, took the loss.

    The two teams plan to play another doubleheader at English Field on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. Originally, the schedule called for single games on Sunday and Monday, but the threat of inclement weather on Monday led to the change.

    Additional Notes: With their two wins, the Hokies stand just nine games shy of 2,000 in the program’s history. Tech is 19-5 all-time in home openers at English Field, including 12 of their last 15 and 5-1 under Coach Pete Hughes. The 15 runs in the opener were the most scored in a home opener since March 14, 1994, when Tech defeated Richmond, 17-12. Tech is now 9-1 all-time in Blacksburg on March 3 and has won six in a row on this date. The Hokies are 4-0 when scoring double figures this year and have now not been shutout in 104 straight games, the longest streak in the ACC. With hits in both games, Pinder has now hit safely in all 11 games this season. Of his 18 hits, 11 are for extra bases with nine for doubles. Seven of Atwell’s 12 hits are extra base hits, including a team-high three triples. Both are slugging better than .600 for the season. Mantiply has allowed just one earned run in 19.2 innings pitched.

    For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Baseball).

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