BLACKSBURG, Va. – The No. 6 Miami Hurricanes took an early lead and answered back each time Virginia Tech mounted a comeback and were able to hold on for a 6-4 victory on Friday night in ACC baseball action at English Field.
The Hurricanes (25-9, 12-4 ACC) put up single runs in the third and fifth frames, both by way of two-out RBI singles by Peter O’Brien and Dale Carey. They built a 4-0 lead with a pair of runs in the seventh on a bases loaded two-out single by Chantz Mack.
Stymied through six frames – just three base runners – the Hokies doubled their hit total as the first three batters reached base. Ronnie Shaban led off with a double, the 62nd of his career which now ties him for 23rd all-time in the ACC and he is just four shy of the school record.
Mark Zagunis followed with his second double of the night, scoring Shaban, and Tyler Horan singled home Zagunis to pull Tech to within 4-2. However, Horan was called out at second trying to advance on a wild pitch and the Hokies didn’t threaten again in the frame.
Miami plated a run in the eighth as Stephen Perez led off with a double, moved to third on a balk and scored on a wild pitch.
Tech (23-13, 5-11) put two more runs up in the home half of the eighth to cut its deficit to a single run. Back-to-back singles by Gabe Ortiz and Chad Pinder was followed by Johnny Morales reaching base by an error, loaded the bases. Ortiz would score on a passed ball and Zagunis plated Pinder with a grounder.
The Hurricanes would add an unearned run in the top of the ninth before the Hokies were able to get two men on board with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Alex Perez and Ortiz singled – Ortiz’ third hit of the night, tying a career high – but Miami’s E.J. Encinosa finished the game with a strikeout to earn his eighth save of the year.
Eric Erickson picked up the win, improving to 6-3 on the season after tossing 6.2 innings. Joe Mantiply suffered the loss despite giving up just two runs over 4.2 frames and is now 4-3.
The two teams will return to English Field and play the second game of the three-game ACC series on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 2:00 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Baseball).