Tip your hat to the Hoos. In a game that started off on the wrong foot, they chipped away and finally took a lead through eight innings, only to allow the Hokies to tie it in the ninth. That set the table for the most un-dramatic of dramatic victories in all of sports. With one out and the bases loaded, Jack Gerstenmaier patiently watched the 3-1 pitch from Hokie reliever Ryan Lauria miss the plate low. You can watch the excitement here. Hang on to your seat, it's riveting
All kidding aside, the win secures Virginia's fifth series victory in a row, ensures they will be at worst the fourth seed in next week's ACC Tournament, and keeps them in the conversation for both the third ACCT seed and more importantly a national seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
The Hokies got on the board early thanks to four walks by Virginia starter Alec Bettinger, including one with the bases loaded. In addition, a two-RBI double by Sam Fagale made the score 3-0 after the top of the first.
The Hoos broke through in the third when Matt Thaiss delivered an RBI single up the middle to score Ernie Clement. The Hoos threatened again in the fourth when Charlie Cody singled and Cam Simmons walked. But a great diving play by Virginia Tech centerfielder Saige Jenco robbed Clement of a hit which would have surely scored Cody and perhaps Simmons.
After the wild first inning Bettinger settled in allowing only three Hokies to reach base over the next five innings. On the day Bettinger pitched six innings and only gave up two hits and struck out seven batters. Had it not been for his six walks which directly contributed to his three earned runs given up, we'd be talking about how great he was on the day.
Virginia got another in the bottom of the seventh thanks again to the combination of Clement and Thaiss. Clement got aboard with a one out single and scored two batters later on a double to left field by Thaiss which cut the Virginia Tech lead to 3-2.
Just as soon as Virginia got back into the game, the Hokies poured it on with two solo home runs in the top of the eighth off David Rosenberger who up until that point had been terrific in relief of Bettinger. But UVA wouldn't go away coming up with a four run rally in the eighth.
Daniel Pinero got things started with a bunt single, which brought up Cody who cut the lead to 5-4 with a two-run home run to left. Gerstenmaier kept things rolling with a single up the middle and advanced to third on Simmons' ground rule double to left. Gerstenmaier then scored on the next batter when Clement delivered a sacrifice fly to left. Justin Novak capped the inning when his ground ball to third drew an error allowing Simmons to score and stake the Hoos to take a 6-5 lead.
In what has become commonplace this season, but much less so in the last several weeks, the Hoos struggled to put away a lead. Tommy Doyle came on to close things out, but gave up a pair of doubles which allowed Virginia Tech to tie the game at 6.
That set the stage for Virginia's walk off win. In the bottom of the ninth, Pinero reached on a infield single before stealing second. Adam Haseley walked bringing up pinch-hitter Nate Eikhoff who reached on a fielder's choice in which all runners were safe. All that was left was for Gerstenmaier to watch a few pitches.
Pinero paced the Hoos at the plate with four hits and two runs scored. Thaiss and Clement each had two hits, while Thaiss extended his team lead in RBI to 54 with two more on the day.
The two teams play in the series finale tomorrow at 4 P.M. UVA will go for the sweep, which will greatly improve their chances at a national seed. In the meantime, we'll be keeping an eye on the series between FSU and Miami as Virginia's magic number for the ACC third seed with the Seminoles stands at two.