BLACKSBURG – A home run from Andrew Rash and a solid pitching performance from Eddie Campbell weren’t enough for Virginia Tech, as the Hokies’ season came to an end with a 10-4 loss to Oklahoma in the NCAA Blacksburg regional on Sunday night at English Field.
The Sooners (43-19) advanced to next week’s super regional to face LSU in Baton Rouge, La. Tech (40-22) saw its season come to an end.
“It’s one step at a time for our program, to host a regional at home and all that entails and where you have to be at a national level to have that privilege,” Tech coach Pete Hughes said. “We’ve got to keep building and sustain that. I think that’s the next goal, to sustain that high level of success and keep hosting regionals and learn how to play well in this environment and advance to the super regionals. Those are our goals.
Oklahoma rallied from a 2-0 deficit by scoring four runs on five hits in the sixth inning and took advantage of two Virginia Tech errors. Then the Sooners put the game away with a six-run ninth inning against Virginia Tech reliever Jake Joyce.
Virginia Tech got on the board first, scoring a run in the bottom of the second on an RBI single to center by designated hitter Ryan Burns. The Hokies took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. With one out, Rash hit an opposite field solo homer to right, his 11th homer of the season.
But Oklahoma got to Campbell in the sixth inning. Max White and Lorenzana had RBI singles in the inning and the two Hokie errors led to two unearned runs, as the Sooners grabbed a 4-2 lead.
The Hokies got a run in the bottom half of the sixth when Tyler Horan scored on a single by Chad Morgan, but Rash tried to score as well and was thrown out by White, Oklahoma’s centerfielder, to preserve the Sooners’ lead.
“It’s a no-brainer to send him in that situation when you’ve got two outs,” Hughes said. “I think our chances are better to score with the centerfielder playing pitch and catch with the catcher than getting back-to-back hits. We’re always going to err on the side of being aggressive with two outs when a scoring opportunity presents itself.
“It was a bang-bang play at the plate, and I can sleep well knowing that we erred on the side of being aggressive because that’s who we are.”
“I didn’t have a clue if I was safe or out,” Rash said. “Everything just happened so fast. I asked him (the umpire) about blocking the plate, but in college, catchers have the right of way when the ball is coming.”
In the ninth, the Sooners scored six runs, including two on a single by Jack Mayfield and two on a double by Hector Lorenzana. Another Virginia Tech error – one of four on the night – did not help matters.
“If you don’t play clean baseball on a Tuesday or in a regional final, you’re not going to win a game,” Hughes said. “Credit Oklahoma. They played clean. We didn’t execute a hit and run, and they executed a hit and run. For the most part, they made the routine plays, and we had trouble doing that tonight.”
White, who was 2-for-5 with an RBI, was named the most outstanding player of the regional after going 8-for-16 with four RBIs. Mayfield finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs for the Sooners, while Lorenzana was 2-for-3. Garrett Carey was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Morgan went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Horan went 2-for-5 for Tech.
Jake Fisher (3-2) got the win, giving up three runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings. Eddie Campbell (2-5) took the loss for Tech despite giving up just two earned runs in 5.2 innings.
“I’ve had the best 34 teammates you could ever have,” said Rash, whose career came to an end. “I couldn’t ask for a better college career. To be the first time to host here and to make the ACC championship game for the first time was just unbelievable. I’m happy for this opportunity, and I appreciate Coach Hughes giving me this opportunity to play here.”
For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Baseball).