April 3, 2010

Courtesy of Virginia Tech Athletics

Virginia Tech used three home runs, including a grand slam by third baseman Ronnie Shaban, to defeat fourth-ranked Florida State and clinch its first-ever series against the Seminoles with an 8-7 victory on Saturday night at Dick Howser Stadium.

The win not only improved Tech’s overall record to 20-9 and its ACC record to 6-5, but it also served as the 400th win in head coach Pete Hughes’ career. Hughes, who is in his 14th year as a head coach and his fourth with the Hokies, needs just two wins to reach 100 at Virginia Tech.

Florida State dropped to 20-6 overall and 6-5 in league play.

Shaban was joined in the home run column by third baseman Tony Balisteri and left fielder Buddy Sosnoskie, while second baseman Michael Seaborn went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Designated hitter Anthony Sosnoskie broke out of a 3-for-29 slump by going 3-for-4 with a double.

Tech sophomore right-hander Mathew Price pitched 6.1 innings for the win to move to 4-1, while senior Ben Rowen went 2.2 frames to record his third save. Florida State starter John Gast took the loss to fall to 4-2 after allowing career highs of 11 hits and eight runs.

Florida State got on the board first with a run in the opening inning. Center fielder Tyler Holt was hit with the first pitch from Price, and eventually scored on a single by right fielder James Ramsey.

The Hokies took the lead in the top of the third with the first of their three long balls on the night, the grand slam by Shaban. After outfielders Sean Ryan and Austin Wates reached on consecutive one-out singles and shortstop Tim Smalling drew a walk, Shaban lofted his fourth home run of the season just to the right of scoreboard in left field to bring everyone home. It was the Hokies’ third grand slam of the year.

The Seminoles answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to cut Tech’s lead to one at 4-3. Shortstop Stephen Cardullo led off with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Ramsey, while left fielder Mike McGee, who followed Cardullo with a single, later scored on a base hit by designated hitter Stuart Tapley.

Balisteri set a new career-high for homers in a season with his third, a solo shot in the top of the fourth inning, to get one of those runs back.

The Hokies then added three more runs in the fifth, all with two outs on the board, to go up 8-3. Anthony Sosnoskie got things started with his eighth double of the season, and Seaborn promptly brought him home with his second single of the game. Buddy Sosnoskie then ripped his fifth home run of the season to left field to spot Price with the five-run cushion.

The Seminoles gave the Hokies a scare with a four-run seventh inning to pull within one again, but Rowen wound up getting out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts. With one out, Ramsey scored the first run of the frame on a wild pitch by Price and Tapley came home on a single by third baseman Sherman Johnson. That’s when Rowen entered the game in relief of Price, who left after allowing six runs on eight hits and five walks. He also threw seven wild pitches and struck out five.

Rowen walked second baseman Devon Travis before striking out pinch hitter Mike Meschke. Catcher Rafael Lopez then singled to load the bases, and Holt’s ensuing double to right-center field looked to be the swing that tied things up, but the ball lodged between the wall and an advertising banner. It was deemed a ground-rule double and Lopez, the tying run, had to return to third base. Rowen promptly struck out Cardullo to get out of the inning.

Rowen allowed two harmless hits in the eighth before getting a 1-2-3 ninth to record the save.

The Hokies and Seminoles are scheduled to conclude the three-game series on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. The game will be televised by Fox Sports Florida, which is available nationally on DirecTV channel 654 and Dish Network Channel 423. The game will also be available on Fox College Sports Channel 721 on Comcast Digital Cable in Blacksburg.