BLACKSBURG, Va. -- With a chance to sweep a ranked opponent for the first time, Virginia Tech saw itself down a run in the eighth frame. However, with one swing of the bat from senior Alex Perez, Tech took a 6-5 lead on his two-run home run and the Hokies closed out the game in the ninth to wrap up the sweep of No. 1 Virginia at English Field on Sunday afternoon.
It marks the first time Tech has swept its in-state rival in the regular season since 1999, which was just two games. The last time Tech won all three regular-season games against Virginia was back during the 1987 campaign.
Tech improved to 10-9 overall and 4-2 in the ACC, matching its best start to the league’s slate (2013). Meanwhile, Virginia fell to 12-5 and 2-4 in the conference and was swept in its first ACC series since 2012 (North Carolina) and has lost four in a row for the first time since April 2008.
Home runs accounted for six of the 11 runs in the contest as Erik Payne put the first run on the board in the second with a solo shot to left center field -- his third home run of the season and sixth of his college career.
Virginia responded with the long ball as Kevin Doherty hit a solo homer in the fourth and Daniel Pinero hit a two-run shot to give the Cavaliers a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth.
Tech answered back with three in the home half of the fifth with Sean Keselica scoring on a wild pitch and Andrew Mogg, who doubled to put Keselica on third and crossed the plate on a Saige Jenco single. Jenco then rounded the bases himself as a wild pitch and errant throw got him to third and another wild pitch allowed him to scamper home.
The Cavaliers tied it back up on a one-out RBI double by Doherty, the second of three RBIs on the day for the freshman, that scored Ernie Clement, forcing Tech go to its bullpen.
Jon Woodcock (5.1 IP. 9 H, 4 ER, 4 K) was relieved by Connor Coward, who ended the frame with back-to-back strikeouts, tossed a perfect seventh with two more punch outs, but surrendered an RBI single to Doherty that gave Virginia a 5-4 advantage.
Brandon Waddell (6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 6 K) had been relieved by Josh Sborz to start the seventh and got a double-play ball to end that frame. In the eighth, though, he walked lead-off hitter Matt Dauby, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jenco.
Perez, who is no stranger to big-game moments -- he leads the team with 11 career game-winning RBIs -- came to the plate and drilled a 2-0 pitch into the air and had enough distance to clear the right-center field fence and put the Hokies ahead once again.
Packy Naughton came in for the ninth and allowed a two-out single to Pinero but ended the game with a grounder to pick up the first save of his career. Coward earned the first win of his career, while Sborz (1-1) took the loss.
For Perez, the home run is his third of the season and the fourth of his career. Keselica was the only other Tech player with more than one hit (3) for his first multi-hit game of the season.