WILMINGTON, N.C. – For the third straight season, the Virginia Tech baseball team opened its season with a victory, this time defeating Kent State, 10-9, in a wild game at Brooks Field to kick off the UNC Wilmington Tournament on Friday afternoon.
After taking a five-run lead after two at-bats, the Hokies needed to break a 7-7 tie in the ninth and then had to hold on in the bottom half of the frame to get win.
Chad Pinder accounted for five of the first six Hokie runs with a two-RBI double in the first and a three-run home run in the second to put Tech up 6-1 early.
However, Kent State (0-1), a College World Series participant a season ago, answered each scoring outburst by the Hokies with runs of its own. They plated two in the second and after a Chad Morgan solo home run in the fourth, they added two more to make it 7-5.
The score stayed there as both bullpens worked three scoreless frames, with Eddie Campbell going two for the Hokies and Michael Clark tossing three for the Golden Flashes.
It appeared Jake Joyce was about to close out his second straight scoreless inning and strand a pair of runners, but an error on a pop fly resulted in two Kent State runs that tied the game. It was one of six errors in the game as each team committed three.
In the ninth, Pinder, who was one of three Hokies – Mark Zagunis and Matt Dauby the others – with two hits in the game, drew a walk to leadoff the frame. Zagunis followed with an RBI double, and Tech plated two more runs after a Golden Flash error.
Clark Labitan surrendered a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth, but hung on to close out the game, to earn his first save of the year while Joyce picked up the win. Josh Pierce took the loss.
Tech will face Kent State again on Saturday before face the host Seahawks, with games scheduled for 11 am - and 30 minutes after the conclusion of game 1 - a change due to inclement weather coming into the area.
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