BLACKSBURG, Va. – For the third time this year, the Virginia Tech Hokies have notched a walk-off win, this time using a bases loaded hit-by-pitch to score the game-winning run to register a 5-4 victory over visiting Cornell at English Field on Wednesday evening.
Tied in the bottom of the ninth, Mark Zagunis singled to lead off the frame and moved to second on a passed ball. Still with no outs, Tyler Horan moved Zagunis to third with a deep fly out to right field. Cornell decided to intentionally walk both Chad Pinder and Johnny Morales to load the bases and have a force play at the plate.
The Big Red even brought an extra infielder to play right in front of second base, but it went unneeded as Rash was hit by a pitch on a 2-2 count after fouling off four straight pitches. The result scored Zagunis with the winning run and Tech walked off with program win No. 1,999.
The Hokies also improved to 17-6 with the victory, still the fastest start to a season in 20 years, won their 10th straight non-conference contest and have started 8-0 at home for the first time in 30 seasons (more below).
Cornell, which fell to 9-4, plated three runs in the first inning without the assistance of a hit as four walks and two hit batters gave the Big Red the 3-0 lead. They added a fourth unearned run in the fourth inning thanks to a sacrifice fly off the bat of Marshall Yanzick.
During that time, the Hokies had some chances to plate their own runs, but had two runners thrown out at home – one on a double from Pinder, the other on a double-steal attempt.
They finally broke through on the scoreboard with three in the sixth frame. With one out, the Hokies loaded the bases on a Zagunis double, a Horan hit-by-pitch and a Pinder infield single. Morales drove one in on a fielder’s choice and Rash plated two with a double.
Tech tied the game in the seventh with another unearned run when Pinder scored Brendon Hayden with another fielder’s choice with the bases loaded. The team left two on base in both the sixth, seventh and eighth before ending the game in the ninth.
Tanner McIntyre threw 5.1 innings of relief for the Hokies allowing just one unearned run and striking out a season-high five batters. Clark Labitan, who is now 4-1 this year, threw the final three frames with three strikeouts. Kellen Urbon (0-1) suffered the loss for the Big Red.
The Hokies return to action with their first ACC home series this weekend against Duke. The series starts on Friday at English Field with first pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Additional Notes: The 1983 squad started 8-0 before losing its ninth home game, 15-14, to George Mason. The 1982 team won 12 straight before losing to Cincinnati 4-3. The 1992 team was 12-0-1 to start the year, but tied the third game of the season. Pinder, who was second in the nation in doubles, hit his 14th of the season, more than halfway to Steve Domecus’ school record of 27 hit in 2010. Tech has now registered 12 comeback wins – nine when trailing as late as the bottom of the fifth inning.
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