BLACKSBURG – He’s succeeded in the situation before. So when Alex Perez came to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth inning against Pittsburgh on Friday evening at English Field he calmly sliced an 0-2 pitch through the left side to plate a pair of runs. Sean Keselica followed with a two-RBI single as well and the Virginia Tech baseball team tacked on a couple more and was able to register an 11-5 comeback win over the ACC newcomer Panthers.
After scoring the game’s first run, Tech, who improved to 7-8-1 overall and 1-3 in the ACC, saw the Panthers respond with five unanswered runs from the second to fifth frames and take control of the contest.
Pittsburgh (7-8, 1-3 ACC) plated three runs in the second inning to erase the Hokies’ one-run lead and then added single runs in the fourth and fifth. Stephen Vranka was responsible for two of the RBIs, while A.J. Lardo and Manny Pazos each scored twice.
However, Saige Jenco, who was 4-for-4 on the day with an RBI, scored his second run of the day in the fifth to make it 5-2. He led off the first with a double and later scored on a Mark Zagunis grounder. In the fifth, he singled, stole second, moved to third on groundout and scored on a passed ball.
Tech then tied the game in the sixth as the Hokies loaded the bases with just one out. Miguel Ceballos drew a walk, Jenco singled and Perez knocked in his first run to knot the game at 5-5.
Brad Markey started for Tech, but lasted just five frames. He allowed nine hits and four earned runs, while walking two and fanning two. Tanner McIntyre took over in the sixth and tossed the final four frames scoreless. He improved to 2-2 on the year with the win as he struck out four.
It was in the eighth that the Hokies finally retook the lead for good. Again, they loaded the bases, this time with no outs, and Perez, who has two walk-off RBIs in his career, brought home two with a single and three batters later Keselica plated two more. In all, Tech scored six runs in the frame.
It wasn’t an easy ninth for McIntyre, who loaded the bases with just one out. He would then punch out pinch-hitter Nick Yarnall and get the final out – a grounder to Perez – to end the game.
Due to impending weather, the teams will conclude the ACC series with a doubleheader on Saturday. First pitch for the first game of the day is still slated for 2 p.m., while the second game will start approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
Additional Notes: This was Tech’s first win in its home ACC opener, as the team had lost its previous nine … Markey’s record at Tech is now 12-2 … Keselica played in his 100th career game at Tech … Jenco’s double was his first extra-base hit of the season … His four-hit day matches the team-high for the season (Zagunis) … Keselica has 11 RBIs in his last three games and has reached base in 12 straight games … Tech has scored at least 10 runs in three straight games – not done since Feb. 28-March 3, 2012.
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