BLACKSBURG – With an 8-1 victory in the nightcap of an ACC doubleheader Saturday, Virginia Tech was able to split the day – the Hokies lost game one, 11-10 – and win the conference series against No. 4 Florida State, for its first ever series win over a top-five program at English Field.
With the split, Virginia Tech improves to 20-9 overall and 7-5 in the conference – the first time ever over .500 after 12 games in the ACC and just the third time ever the team has reached 20 wins before April 1 in its history (1985 & 1992). Florida State is now 24-4 and 8-4 in the league.
Joe Mantiply won the second game of his career against Florida State, giving the Hokies exactly what they needed after a first game that featured eight pitchers, six errors and 13 unearned runs. Mantiply (2-0) lasted 6.2 innings, allowed six hits and three walks, surrendered one run and struck out seven batters.
In the seventh, he was relieved by Clark Labitan with two out and the tying run coming to the plate in a 4-1 game. Labitan got a grounder to end the threat and worked the final two innings scoreless, with one strikeout, to pick up his fifth save of the season.
After three scoreless frames, Tech broke through in the fourth, plating four runs with the key hit a two-RBI double off the bat of Andrew Rash, who was 3 for 4 in game two with three RBI and a run scored, then Chad Morgan drove home Rash.
The first game didn’t start off too well for Tech, as Florida State plated five unearned runs in the first frame. Entering the day, the Hokies had allowed just five runs in the first inning in their first 27 games. Then, Tech faced an 8-0 deficit as the Seminoles plated three more in the second.
However, the Hokies chipped away, scoring one run in the second and tied the game in the fourth, as they scored seven unearned runs with Zagunis provided a two-RBI single that tied the game at 8-8.
Florida State looked as if it secured the game with three more runs – a single run in the fifth and two in the seventh, but again, back came the Hokies.
Rash drove home Zagunis, who tripled to lead off the seventh, to make it 11-9 and in the ninth, Brendon Hayden plated Zagunis with a single and the Hokies had runners on the corners with one out.
Seminole closer Robby Coles picked up his sixth save as he ended the game with a strikeout and grounder, preserving the win for Bryant Holtmann (2-0).
Tech will take a couple days off before getting back to the field when the Hokies take on VCU on Tuesday at English Field. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Additional Notes: Tech was only 2-9 all-time at English Field against FSU before the weekend, after, the Hokies have now doubled their win total (4-10). This is just the 18th time in 120 seasons of Tech baseball that the team has won 20 games before its 30th game. The 2010 squad was the last to do it at 20-9 as well. The 2010 season was the only time Tech has been .500 after 12 games in ACC (6-6), which ironically came after a series win at then No. 4 Florida State. Tech’s only other series win over a top 5 program was at No. 3 Georgia Tech, also in 2010. All-time, the Hokies are 5-7 against teams ranked No. 4. Mark Zagunis passed the 100-hit milestone in today’s first game with his single in the second inning. Joe Mantiply won his 16th game at Tech, and is now just three wins shy of the most by a Tech pitcher as a member of the ACC. He is also approaching two more milestones as he has thrown 245.2 innings at Tech and has struck out 191 career batters. Tech has not lost both ends of a doubleheader (or two games in a single day) since May 14, 2011, winning five and splitting four in that span.
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