By: Joey Raymond
Headline Photo Credit: USA Today
Before the first pitch…
BLACKSBURG, VA-The University of Virginia boasts a good baseball team. At a 23-2 overall record and a 7-2 conference record, it’s not difficult to see why they’re ranked 5th in the country. They are a sound baseball team with good pitching and a lot of pop from the batter’s box. The Virginia Tech Hokies however, has shown to have several flaws. Virginia Tech comes into this game at 15-9 overall and a brutal record of 2-7 in the conference. They have a lot of promising young talent but they still have a lot to learn. That could prove to be the difference in this matchup between Hokies and Hoos in this edition of the Commonwealth Clash. The Hokies and the Hoos are meeting for the second time this season where the Hokies won the last series 2-1. All time the University of Virginia leads the series 107-90.
As the lights turn on and the wind bellows with ferocity it’s almost time for the first pitch in Blacksburg. Taking the mound tonight for the Hokies is Griffin Green, and pitching for the Cavaliers is Connelly Early. Griffin Green winds up and throws the first pitch and we’re off!
The first out of the game comes from a very unorthodox catch from the Hokies’ center fielder, Jack Hurley. Ethan O’Donnell then launches a double down the line to get the hitting started for UVa. After that, the Hoos get a seeing-eye single from Kyle Teel to bring in a run. Teel then moves over to second on a failed pick-off move from Griffin Green. After that, Ethan Anderson then strikes out to end the inning.
The Hokies turn to bat in the first, Carson Jones leads it off and gets hit in the head on an errand fastball. He stays in the game though, after lots of attention is paid to him by the medical staff. After a fielder’s choice, the Hokies then got a massive homer from Jack Hurley. That brought the score to 2-1 with the Hokies in the lead. Carson DeMartini then smacks a double into the center, building off the momentum gained from the home run. Brody Donay then lined a single to left bringing in DeMartini. The Hokies extend the lead by another as “Let’s Go Hokies” rain down on the field. The Cavaliers get the next two outs quickly, ending the inning.
The second inning begins with a quick out as Chris Baker lines to Carson DeMartini. Casey Saucke then hits a stinger to the outfield which is caught for out number two. The Cavaliers end up with a quick top of the second as Godbout grounds out to end their half of the inning
The Hokies bring Eddie Eisert to the batter’s box and he strikes out for the first out. Sparber then comes up and takes a walk. Carson Jones also ends up working a walk. This then begins a rally, as the Hokies then get a base hit from Grady, and score again. UVa then visits the mound in hopes to calm the nerves of their pitcher. This proves to be ineffective, as Jack Hurley hits a wobbly double into left field scoring another and moving the runners to second and third. DeMartini then worked a walk to load the bases. Donay then grounds out, and Grady scores. The Hokies continue to pull ahead, they lead 6-1. The inning continues when Christian Martin gets walked, forcing the bases loaded once again. This ends quickly, however, when Michel strikes out to end the inning.
We head into the top of the third inning when UVa batter, Harrison Didawick, drops a single into left field to get the Hoos started. O’Ferrall then gets in on the fun, also lining a single to left. A mound visit to Griffen Green then ensues. UVa still put the bat to the ball after that though, as O’Donnell singles to left to load the bases. The Hokies then get a double play off the bat of Gelof, Didawick scores on the play though. This brings the Cavaliers a little closer with the score of 6-2. The Cavaliers then get a massive 404 ft home run off the bat of Teel to bring it within 2 runs. The inning isn’t done yet, however, as Anderson lines a single to right. This game has been a lot of back-and-forth with a ton of action. The inning finally ended after a ground ball fielder’s choice to end the offensive performance of UVA.
The bottom of the third starts slows for the Hokies as Eddie Eisert grounds out to the first base. Sparber then hits a double off of a ball that was almost caught by UVa center fielder Ethan O’Donnell. Jones then hits a strong single to center and drives in the run. That brings the Hokies to 6 total players with hits in this game. A wild pitch then eats up UVa’s catcher on two straight pitches and Carson Jones steals second and third on the play. Grady then strikes out on what the Hokie faithful deemed a questionable call. Jack Hurley then continues his career game with another hit, bringing in the run and his RBI (Runs Batted In) total to 4 on the night. This causes UVa to bring in a different pitcher, Angelo Tonas. This is UVa’s most runs they’ve given up this year and we’re only in the third inning. DeMartini then walks, moving Hurley to second. Hurley then scores on a wild attempt at a ‘pick play’ from UVa catcher Kyle Teel. DeMartini moved to second on the wild throw into right field. DeMartini then moved to third on a walk and passed the ball from the Cavaliers. This insane inning finally comes to an end after a rocket hit to center gets caught.
Finally, in the fourth inning, UVa starts this inning by grounding out the first two batters, Saucke and Godbout. Didawick followed that up with a single, prompting the inning to continue. Not for long, however, as Griff O’Ferrall then grounded out to end the top of the fourth.
The Hokies turn to bat in the fourth inning, Michel says let me swing the Hokies’ home run hammer and hits a towering drive to left that goes 351 feet over the fence. Eisert then grounded out to the first baseman, and Sparber popped out to left. After the two quick outs gathered by the Hoos, Carson Jones then worked a walk. Clay Grady then gets beaned with a breaking ball that misses badly, prompting the Hokies to bring up the red-hot Jack Hurley with runners on first and second. He then rockets a single to center, scoring yet another run for the Hokies. The offense then gets stopped after a pop-out by Carson DeMartini. The inning ends with the Hokies leading 11-4. Another thing to note is that Jack Hurley is only a triple away from hitting the cycle at this point in this game.
The fifth inning begins with a single from UVa’s O’Ferrall. Ethan O’Donnell then hits an absolute tank of a home run that goes 459 feet. This brings the score to 11-6. Keel then flies out to right, getting the first out of the inning. Ethan Anderson continues the inning by getting walked. This brings the coach to the mound prompting a pitching change. The new pitcher for the Hokies is Henry Weycker. Pinch-hitting Colin Tuft comes in for UVa, and he strikes out, becoming the second out of the inning. Saucke then becomes the third out, ending the excitement for UVa.
In the bottom of the fifth, UVa brings in a new pitcher, Bradley Hodges. Brody Donay greets the new cavalier pitcher by striking out after fouling off several pitches. Martin then works a four-pitch walk, followed by Michel muscling a double and bringing in Martin to score. Eisert then strikes out, becoming the second out of the inning. Sparber then lined an out, as O’Ferrall made an incredible catch to end the inning.
The sixth inning begins with UVa’s Henry Godbout grounding out to shortstop Clay Grady. Didawick then worked a walk, bringing up Griff O’Ferrall to hit. He then slaps a single into the right field. O’Donnell then grounded into a double play, working the Hokies out of the jam.
In the bottom of the sixth, Carson Jones starts the inning with a pop-out to left. Clay Grady then forces a close play at first after hitting a ground ball to shortstop. He’s determined to be out though, resulting in the second out of the inning. Jack Hurley then grounded out to the third basemen, ending the inning. The score is currently 12-6, with the Hokies in the lead.
The top of the seventh inning begins with a pitching change. The Hokies bring in Brady Kirtner into pitch. He faced Jake Gelof from UVa to start the inning. Gelof then strikes out, followed by a ground out by Teel to the second baseman. Ethan Anderson followed in Teel’s footsteps and also grounded out to the second base to bring us to the seventh-inning stretch.
‘Take me out to the ballgame’ and ‘Sweet Caroline’ gets blared from the PA system as we go into the bottom of the seventh inning. The Hokies bring up Carson DeMartini to start the inning. He immediately lines out to the right field on the first pitch of the inning. Brody Donay then lined a single into the left. Martin then follows him up by grounding into a double play to end the inning. We move on to the eighth inning with the Hokies leading 12-6.
The top of the eighth inning begins with a pinch hitter. Travis Reifsnider comes in to hit for Tuft, he grounds out almost immediately to the first baseman. Saucke comes up and hits a monster fly ball to the right field, but it’s caught on the warning track, becoming the second out. Godbout then strikes out after seeing three pitches, ending the top of the eighth.
Yet another pitching change to start the bottom of the inning as UVa brings in Cullen McKay to pitch. Michel leads it off for the Hokies, he starts the inning by striking out. Eisert then follows him by also striking out. A good pitching performance to start the inning by Cullen McKay, who then gives up a single to Sparber on the first pitch of the at-bat. The Hokies then pinch run for Sparber with Warren Holzemer as Jones steps into the batter’s box. Holzemer then gets thrown out trying to steal a second off a terrific throw from UVa’s catcher Kyle Teel.
The top of the ninth begins in front of a much thinned-out crowd at English Field. Didawick steps into the batter’s box and the Hokies have a chance to end the game this inning. Didawick works a full count before smacking a single into center field. O’Ferrall then follows that with a fantastic bunt which the Hokies have a hard time fielding, resulting in a single. The Hoos have runners at first and second with no one out. The Cavaliers take advantage of this when O’Donnell hammers a double knocking in a run. Jake Gelof then comes in and hits a ball that barely misses being a home run. He ends up at second, knocking in two runs and bringing the score to 12-9. The Cavaliers are making it interesting as the Hokies make a pitching change with no one out still. The new pitcher for the Hokies will be Jonah Hurney. UVa catcher Kyle Teel digs in the batter’s box and grounds out on the first pitch. He moves the runner over to third on the play. Immediately following the play Anderson also grounds out but the runner scores bringing the Cavaliers within two runs. Hanson then steps up to the plate and smacks a single to left. Saucke then comes to the plate and tries to make it interesting. He brings the count full and strikes out though. The Hokies pull out a hard-fought win, winning the game 12-10.
Summary and what’s next…
What an incredible game played from both sides, first and foremost. UVa tried to mount a massive comeback but ultimately could not pull out the victory. This was a back-and-forth battle with a ton of offense. The Cavaliers move on with a record of 24-3 as the Hokies hand them just their third loss of what is an incredible season so far. The Hokies move on to 16-10 and bring some momentum into Sunday’s game. The Hokies and Hoos will meet again to finish the series on Sunday, April 2nd, 2023.