March 4, 2012
Tech completes four-game sweep of Yale
The team has won six in a row heading into ACC play

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech continued its winning ways, sweeping a doubleheader against Yale, 6-5 and 17-0, to finish off a four-game sweep of the Bulldogs and to extend its winning streak to six games on Sunday afternoon at English Field.

With the wins, Tech improved to 11-2 overall on the season and became the fastest Hokie baseball team to 10 wins (12 games) since the 1993 squad rolled out to a 15-2 record. Yale, which opened its season in Blacksburg, dropped to 0-4.

Getting the 10th win wasn’t easy though, as it took the efforts of Andrew Rash, who struggled in the first game – four strikeouts in four trips to the plate – before hitting a lead-off walk-off home run to win it.

The first contest started out as a pitchers’ duel between Tech starter Patrick Scoggin and Yale’s Pat Ludwig. Scoggin held the Bulldogs to four hits over five frames and allowed just one run on back-to-back, two-out doubles by Yale’s Kevin Fortunato and Cale Hanson in the fourth inning.

Hokie catcher Mark Zagunis, meanwhile, tagged Ludwig, for a solo homer, the second man he faced. From that point, the Bulldog right-hander allowed just one hit and struck out eight Hokies over his next four innings of work.

In the bottom of the fifth, Zagunis struck again for the Hokies, this time with a bloop-double down the right-field line that scored third baseman Brendon Hayden and gave Tech a 2-1 lead. The lead was a short one as Yale greeted Tech reliever Jake Joyce with a leadoff single by designated hitter Josh Scharff, followed by a two-run homer off the bat of first baseman Fortunato.

Tech tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the frame on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Chad Morgan. An inning later, freshman first baseman Sean Keselica’s two-out single put the Hokies on top 5-3.

The Bulldogs set up the dramatic finish with a two-out, two-run single of their own in the ninth. Right fielder Charlie Neil and third baseman Chris Piwinski smacked singles off Tech reliever Clark Labitan to open the inning. The runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt and then score on shortstop Jacob Hunter’s single to left field.

Rash’s heroics, his second home run of the year, made Labitan (2-0) the winner. Yale reliever David Hickey, who entered the game at the start of the eighth, took the loss, his first.

Tech finished the game with 13 hits, including two each from Zagunis, Hayden, Keselica, right fielder Jake Atwell, shortstop Johnny Morales and left fielder Tyler Horan. Zagunis and Horan both contributed a pair of RBI. Fortunato, Hanson and Neil had two hits apiece for the Bulldogs.

The Hokies’ offense was on track from the beginning in the second game, scoring at least one run in each of the first seven innings. In the meantime, left-handed pitchers Colin O'Keefe and Eddie Campbell were combining on a five-hit shutout.

O’Keefe started and pitched five full innings to get the win, his first decision of the season. The sophomore allowed three hits, struck out six batters and walked one. Campbell, also a sophomore, picked up his first save with four innings of two-hit relief. He fanned four batters and did not have a walk.

Rash picked up four more runs batted in during the nightcap, picking up an RBI-single in the third inning and belting a three-run homer in the fourth. Home runs also played a role in a five-run sixth inning with left fielder Tyler Horan and catcher Chad Morgan connecting on solo shots.

Eleven players contributed to the Hokies’ season-high 19 hits with freshman third baseman Brendon Hayden leading the way with three hits, including a double and triple.

The Hokies will take the week off before heading north to Charlottesville to open conference play against the Virginia Cavaliers in a three-game series that starts on Friday at 5 p.m.

Additional Notes: With double figures in hits in both games today, the Hokies have now reached at least 10 hits in five straight games and eight this season increasing their team batting average to .307. It was their fifth game with at least 10 runs. O’Keefe and Campbell also combined for 10 strikeouts, the sixth time the Hokie staff has reached at least 10 Ks in a game. In the first game, Tech pitchers allowed just the second home run of the year and the first triple (of the 98 hits allowed all season). Meanwhile, they offense has seven triples and 12 home runs (of 139 hits). The team is just seven wins shy of 2,000 in the program’s history.

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