BLACKSBURG, Va. – This time it was a redshirt-freshman that came through for Virginia Tech, getting the walk-off single to plate the winning run in the 10th frame, as the Hokies posted another come-back walk-off victory on Tuesday night at English Field, 4-3, over Coastal Carolina.
It was the team’s third straight walk-off win – the Hokies also defeating then-No. 6 Miami on Saturday and Sunday – the team’s sixth walk-off win of the year, the 19th come-back win of the season overall of which 14 have been from the fifth frame on. It is also the fourth time the team has trailed in the ninth frame only to rally for a win.
The win was also the team’s eighth in the last nine games and the 14th straight non-conference win of the year. That streak just passed the 1990 team’s mark of 13 straight from March 22 through April 17 and ties the 1985 squad that also won 14 from March 26 through April 11. It’s worth noting that was the last Tech team to win 50 games in a season.
As for the game, Coastal Carolina (24-12) opened the scoring in the third inning, plating a pair of runs, but only one was earned. Jacob May singled home Justin Creel, who doubled to lead off the frame, and Tripp Martin, who was hit by a pitch, scored an unearned run on the Hokies’ 36th double play of the season.
Held hitless through the first four frames, Chad Pinder notched his team and nation-leading 20th double of the season, and then made a head’s up play by taking third on a throw to second base. He scored a batter later on Brendon Hayden’s RBI single.
Tech used six pitchers in the game and after starter Eddie Campbell, who went three innings with two strike outs, Patrick Scoggin (2.0 IP, 2 Ks), Devin Burke (1.0, 1) and Clark Labitan (1.0, 1) kept the Chanticleers off the board until the eighth.
Jake Joyce surrendered a tough-luck single run in the frame, a two-out RBI single by Tucker Frawley that scored Daniel Bowman from first base. Bowman, who walked, was stealing on the pitch, which was slowly grounded to where Tech second baseman Alex Perez was and before anybody could get to the ball, Bowman raced around to put the Chanticleers up 3-1.
Through 6.2 frames, the Hokies managed just six hits and a single run off of four Coastal pitchers, and with two outs in the seventh, the Chanticleers called upon their closer Aaron Burke, who entered the game with the nation’s lowest ERA at 0.72 (37.1 IP, 3 ER).
Gabe Ortiz singled off him and Andrew Rash was hit by a pitch before he ended the threat with a foul out to right. However, Tyler Horan launched the first pitch he saw off the submarine-pitcher in the eighth over the left center field fence for his 10th home run of the year to cut the Hokie deficit to 3-2.
In the bottom of the ninth, Hayden single and was pulled for a pinch runner, Wernicki, who moved to second on a sacrifice by Perez. Ortiz bunted as well and beat the throw to first, which was wide and allowed Wernicki to tie the game at three. A single by Rash, a fly out and an intentional walk to Horan followed and loaded the bases for Mark Zagunis – the same scenario he faced Sunday.
He was not able to come through this time and the game headed into extra innings.
Tanner McIntyre came on in the 10th and hit the first batter he faced, pinch hitter Keith Picconi, who was replaced by pinch runner Luke Willis. Willis stole second but was thrown out at third on a sacrifice attempt. McIntyre got the final two outs without a hitch and the Hokies came to bat in the bottom of the frame.
Ronnie Shaban, who lost his bat on his first two swings, laced a double into the left center gap – the 63rd of his career – and was replaced by pinch runner Carson Helms. He moved to third on Chad Pinder’s infield single and scored when Wernicki singled back through a drawn-in infield.
Additional Notes: Mark Zagunis extended his reached base streak to a team-long 31 straight games, while Tyler Horan is now at 18 straight. Tech is 14-1 when Chad Pinder doubles and 7-2 when Tyler Horan hits a home run. The Hokies are now 2-0 in extra inning games this year and have won six straight in the regular season, last losing to Wake Forest, 15-14 in 10 innings on April 4, 2009. Ronnie Shaban is now tied for 20th all-time in doubles in the ACC and is just three shy of the Tech school record.
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