CARY, N.C. – No. 25 Virginia Tech received production from its entire lineup and saw its bullpen come through when called upon which helped the Hokies secure a pair of wins in the first day of the Irish Baseball Classic at the USA Baseball Complex on Friday afternoon.
The Hokies defeated Rhode Island in comeback fashion to open the tournament posting a 7-3 victory and then jumped out to an early lead against Ohio and cruised to an 8-2 win in the second game to make it six wins in a row and improve to 10-1 on the season, their best start since 1992.
Against the Rams, Tech fell behind in the second, but tied the game with a pair of runs on RBI singles by Sean Keselica and Chad Pinder. Combined in both games, Keselica had five hits, including an RBI triple, scored three times and drove in two.
Rhode Island (0-9) responded with a single run in the top of the fourth, but was held there the rest of the day.
Tech’s bullpen in game one combined to throw 5.2 scoreless innings with Brendon Hayden working 2.2 innings, Jake Joyce, who picked up the win and is now 2-1, going 2.0 with two strikeouts and Clark Labitan finishing off the game in the ninth.
The Hokies, who’ve come to bat trailing a total of just 11 times this season, tied the game in the sixth with an RBI from Hayden and then took the lead in the seventh for good. Pinder knocked in the go-ahead run, which was followed by a two-RBI single from Tyler Horan and an RBI single by Andrew Rash.
Tech’s offense continued into the early part of the second game, with the Hokies scoring two, two and three in the first three frames. Mark Zagunis drove in the two in the first with a double, while Hayden hit a solo home run and Keselica hit an RBI triple in the second.
Rash doubled for the third time in the day, knocking in two in the third then came around to score on a single from Chad Morgan. It was all the offense Eddie Campbell would need as he cruised through seven frames minus one blemish.
In the second, Ohio (1-5) drew four bases on balls which allowed a pair of runs to score, but after, he sat down 16 of the last 18 Bobcats he faced. He won his first game of the year after pitching a career-high seven innings and striking out a career-high 10 batters.
Tech (10-1) will return to action on Saturday to face No. 22 Notre Dame at 5 p.m., a change due to rain forecasted in the area Saturday night.
ADDITIONAL NOTES: Today, Rash played in his 150th game for Tech in game two, while Pinder played in his 100th game in the first. In 1992, the Hokies started the season 10-0-1, winning their first five, tying their next and winning their next five. Tech has now won six in a row for the first time in almost a year, when they won seven from Feb. 26-March 9. With two wins today, Coach Pete Hughes is just six wins shy of 500 for his career.
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