BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech baseball took an early lead on No. 13 NC State, but also needed a late rally to post a 6-4 victory on Sunday afternoon at English Field in its final ACC home game of the season.
Tech, who had five freshman and three sophomores on the field for most of the weekend against the Wolfpack, was led today by freshman Brendon Hayden, who had a pair of hits and three RBI, and freshman Mark Zagunis, who had three hits, and RBI and a run scored.
With the victory, the Hokies improved to 33-18 on the season (15-6 in their last 21) and 11-16 in the ACC, while NC State falls to 36-13, 18-9 in conference.
The Hokies jumped out to an early 3-0 lead with a pair runs in the second inning – an RBI collected by both freshman Kyle Wernicki and sophomore Chad Morgan, which scored Hayden and the lone senior in the batting line-up Ronnie Shaban – and a single run in the third on an RBI by Hayden that scored sophomore Tyler Horan.
NC State plated a single run in the fourth – an RBI single by Saturday’s hero Ryan Mathews – then took a 4-3 lead when Tarran Senay hit a three-run home run in the sixth frame.
It’s been nothing new for the Hokies, facing a deficit in the latter stages of the game – including today’s victory, Tech has now won 18 games when trailing entering their at-bats in the fifth inning or later. And the team responded with three runs of its own in the home half of the sixth.
With one out, freshman Alex Perez drew a walk after fouling off four straight pitches with a full count. With two outs, Horan and Zagunis hit back-to-back singles, the second plating Perez, to tie the game at 4-4. Shaban drew a walk to load the bases and NC State went to its pen.
Hayden singled home two, including Zagunis who avoided a tag at the plate, to put the Hokies up 6-4.
The bullpen took it the rest of the way as Tanner McIntyre (6-0) threw a perfect seventh frame, Jake Atwell got two more outs and Clark Labitan closed out the game retiring the last four batters in order to earn his third save of the season.
The Hokies will play their final home game of the season against Liberty on Tuesday with first pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
ADDITIONAL NOTES: Ronnie Shaban and Andrew Rash were the co-winners of the Johnny Oates Memorial Award, presented pregame. Seven seniors were honored before and during the game, which included Mike McMenamin, Andrew Aizenstadt, Gabe Ortiz, Jake Atwell, Manny Martir, Marc Zecchino and Ronnie Shaban. The victory marked the program’s 400th career win at English Field. In all, it was Tech’s 24th comeback win of the season. Chad Pinder’s single in the fifth was his 100th hit at the school. Before the weekend, Tech was 24-2 when its pitching staff allowed four runs or less (a 2-1 loss at then #4 Florida State and a 4-3 loss at then #27 Virginia) – the Hokies went 1-1 this weekend.
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