The Hurricanes picked up their sixth straight win in a wild victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies on Friday night.
'Canes ace Chris Diaz who came into tonight's game with five wins and no losses really struggled as Virginia Tech struck for three runs in the bottom of the third to break up a 1-1 tie. Mark Zagunis (2-4) would get on base with a single, Brendon Hayden (2-5) would follow up with a single of his own to put runners on the corners for the Hokies. Sean Keselica (2-5) hit a grounder to UM second baseman Alex Hernandez, Hernandez tried to get Hayden out at second but, threw the ball away for his second error of the season allowing both Zagunis and Hayden to score making it 3-1 in favor for the Hokies. Tom Stoffel (0-3) would bring in Keselica on a RBI ground out to bring the score to 4-1 after three innings.
Virginia Tech would try to tack on more runs in the bottom of the fifth when the Hokies had the bases loaded with no outs with Ricky Surum coming up. Chris Diaz who had created the mess in the inning with throwing a wild pitch on a strikeout against Sean Keselica, followed up with a walk to Kyle Wernicki (1-2) and then hitting the next batter Tom Stoffel, would not be allowed to try to work out of it as he was pulled. Diaz's final line of the game was four innings pitched on five hits while allowing four runs two earned while walking four and striking out five. Enrique Sosa would come on and get Surum (0-4) out on a strikeout, got Miguel Ceballos (2-3) to pop out to the shortstop and then get Saige Jenco (1-5) to fly out to left field to work out of the jam and keep the score at 4-1 at the end of five.
The Hurricanes would add a run in the top of the sixth on a Willie Abreu (2-5) single driving in Sebastian Diaz (0-2) who had reached base on a walk. The RBI was Abreu's sixteenth on the year cutting the lead in half to make it 4-2. Heading into the bottom of the seventh Enrique Sosa would be replaced for Danny Garcia. Garcia would allow a single to Sean Keselica, then allow a walk to Kyle Wernicki and would strike out Tom Stoffel before getting pulled for Sam Abrams. Abrams who was only making his third appearance of the year would get Ricky Surum out at first on a sac bunt putting runners on second and third for Hokies third baseman Miguel Ceballos. Ceballos would hit a triple off of Abrams driving in both runs making it 6-2 in favor of Virginia Tech. AJ Salcines would replace Abrams and allow a single to Saige Jenco to bring in Ceballos making 7-2 at the end of seven innings.
The Hokies would make a pitching change in the top of the eighth pulling starter Brad Markey who had gone seven innings only allowing two runs both earned on five hits while giving up two walks and striking out three. Tyler Palmer (2-4) got the four run inning started with a single. Willie Abreu would follow Palmer right up with a single of his own bringing up the hottest hitter on the team Zack Collins. Collins (3-5) would hit a single driving in Palmer for Collins's twenty third RBI of the year. Virginia Tech would make a pitching change bringing in Sean Kennedy who would issue a walk to Johnny Ruiz (0-3). Up next was Brad Zunica (1-2) who had come in to replace Brad Fieger and the move paid off for Jim Morris and the 'Canes as Zunica would single bringing in Abreu and Collins making the score 7-5 putting Zunica at four RBI's for the year. Brandon Lopez (0-2) would drive in the fourth run of the inning with a sac fly to bring in Johnny Ruiz making it 7-6 Hokies heading into the bottom of the eighth.
Mark Zagunis led the bottom of the eighth off with a double off of Salcines. Salcines would recover as he got the next two batters to strike out before being pulled for Cooper Hammond. Hammond was facing Kyle Wernicki and Wernicki hit a single to right field but, Zagunis who was trying to score from second was gunned down by Willie Abreu at home for a huge out that kept the Hokies lead to one after eight.
Alex Perez would come on and try to get the save for Virginia Tech as he was called upon to pitch the top of the ninth. Perez would get Sebastian Diaz to strike out for the first out of the inning. Dale Carey (2-4) would draw a walk to put the tying run on first. Tyler Palmer next up came through a with a clutch double down the left field line driving in Carey all the way from first tying the game at 7-7 for Palmer's eighteenth RBI of the year. Willie Abreu would reach first on an error by third baseman Miguel Ceballos and Palmer would advance to third on the play. Phil Sciretta would be the pitcher Virginia Tech hoped to keep to game tied heading to bottom of the ninth but, the plan failed as Zack Collins would single bringing in Tyler Palmer and giving UM the 8-7 lead for Collins's second RBI of the game and twenty fourth of the year. In the bottom of the ninth freshman closer Bryan Garcia delivered his eighth save of the season preserving the 8-7 win for the Hurricanes.
The 'Canes showed a lot of heart and effort this game as they rallied back from five runs down to pick up their sixth straight win overall. The Hurricanes go to (19-12, 9-4 ACC) with the win while, the Hokies dropped to (14-13-1, 5-8 ACC) with the loss. Tomorrow's game of the series is set for 2PM with LHP Andrew Saurez (3-1, 3.02 ERA) slated to go against LHP Sean Keselica (2-1, 6.17 ERA). The game can be heard on WVUM 90.5.