Virginia Tech beats top-ranked Virginia on ninth inning bases-loaded walk
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- For the second time this season and the fourth time in head coach Patrick Mason’s tenure, Virginia Tech registered a walk-off victory and this one gave the Hokies a 2-1 win against No. 1 Virginia on Friday afternoon in ACC action at English Field.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Brendon Hayden, Tech’s hottest hitter this month, saw four pitches come his way from Cavalier reliever Josh Sborz, who had just entered the game, and none of them found the strike zone. Hayden took his base on balls and with it, forced home Ricky Surum with the game-winning run.
It marked the program’s fourth win against a No. 1 team, last defeating No. 1 Virginia on April 18, 2010 in an 8-5 contest. The other wins against No. 1s were recorded on May 10, 2008 (Miami (Fla.))and March 18, 2006 (Florida State) as Tech is now 4-20 all-time against top-ranked teams.
The win improved Tech’s record to 8-9 overall and 2-2 in the ACC, while the Cavaliers dropped to 12-3 and 2-2 in the league.
The classic pitchers' duel was won by Tech’s Sean Keselica, who improved to 3-1 on the season and 2-0 in ACC starts. Keselica tossed all nine innings for the Hokies, surrendered just four hits, allowed one unearned run in the first inning and struck out four batters. He becomes the second Tech pitcher to throw a complete game and get a win against a No. 1 program as Justin Wright went nine innings in that win over the Hurricanes.
In the top of the first, the Cavaliers scored their only run when Pavin Smith, who reached on an error, scored on an RBI single by Matt Thaiss.
The Hokies countered in the bottom of the frame when Saige Jenco, who singled to lead off the home half, moved around on a sacrifice bunt by Alex Perez, a grounder to second by Erik Payne and scored on Hayden’s RBI single.
Hayden would later single again in the fourth and reach base on a catcher’s interference in the fifth. For the month of March, he has a seven-game hitting streak in which he is batting .417 with 10 hits, including two doubles and four home runs.
He has walked seven times, has 10 RBIs and has scored seven times. He is slugging 1.000 for the month and has an on-base percentage of .563. This was his sixth multi-RBI game of the season, 31st of his career and the second time he's had a walk-off, as he hit a three-run home run in the ninth last year against Cincinnati.
After the Thaiss RBI single, Keselica shut down the Cavalier offense. He retired 18-of-19 batters and faced the minimum from the second through sixth frames – getting a double-play ball to erase the only base-runner in the fourth.
He surrendered a two-out single in the seventh and eighth frames, but no runner even touched second base after the first inning. He also tossed a perfect ninth, his fifth of the afternoon before the Hokies notched the win.
Tech had several opportunities to plate a go-ahead run before the ninth against Virginia’s Nathan Kirby, who entered the game with a 0.71 ERA. However, they batted just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded runners on second and third in the second, third and fifth frames before breaking through in the ninth against UVa reliever Jack Roberts, who took the loss.
In the ninth, Surum drew a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jenco, who reached first on a fielding error. Perez then moved both of them up a base with another bunt, Tech's sixth of the game, its most over the past 11 seasons, and Payne was intentionally walk to load the bases before Hayden's walk off.