March 20, 2009
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Matt Skole’s three-run home run highlighted a six-run ninth inning comeback to lift No. 3 Georgia Tech (15-1, 5-0 ACC) to a 10-9 win over Virginia Tech (12-7, 1-5 ACC) Friday night at English Field.
The Yellow Jackets scored two in the eighth and added six in the ninth to earn the win and extend their winning streak to 12 games.
Tech began the ninth inning with back-to-back singles by Chase Burnette and Jeff Rowland, and Derek Dietrich followed with an RBI groundout to start the Yellow Jacket comeback. Jason Haniger then legged out a single to the pitcher, which put runners on the corners for Tony Plagman. The Yellow Jacket first baseman deposited a double down the left field line to pull the Jackets to within two runs of the Hokies.
Following a pitching change, Luke Murton walked on four pitches to set up the game-winning hit for Skole. The Yellow Jacket third baseman then pulled a 3-1 pitch over the right-center field wall to give the Yellow Jackets their first lead since the first inning.
“(Virginia Tech head coach) Pete Hughes and I were talking about our offense before the game, and he brought up the team that we had a few years ago that had guys that could hit home runs to get Tech back into a game,” head coach Danny Hall said. “I didn’t say it to him, but I thought to myself that this team is like that as well.
“We can have home runs hit by anyone, and we’re never really out of the game when you have someone that can step up and hit a home run, and Matt stepped up tonight and hit a big one for us.”
The win overshadowed a strong performance by Hokie starting pitcher Rhett Ballard, who held the Jackets to four runs on six hits through seven-plus innings of work. Reliever Jesse Hahn (0-1) suffered the loss, giving up the home run to Skole in the ninth inning.
The Jackets won despite committing a season-high four errors in the game, all of which led to runs for the Hokies.
Plagman gave the Yellow Jackets a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first inning, but a run-scoring single by Steve Domecus tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the frame.
Virginia Tech capitalized on a pair of Yellow Jacket errors to take a one-run lead in the second inning and pushed the score to 3-1 with an RBI single by Ty Hohman in the bottom of the fourth.
With two outs in the fourth inning, Patrick Long earned a walk off Ballard to snap a streak of 12 straight batters retired by the right-hander, and Chase Burnette ripped a single up the middle to put runners on first and second. Rowland followed with a double down the left field line to plate Long, but Ballard then forced Dietrich to ground out, ending the threat while hanging onto a 3-2 lead.
The Hokies scored a run in the fourth and added three in the fifth and two more in the seventh to take an 8-2 lead, which looked to be enough for the win.
The Jackets scored two in the eighth on RBI singles by Haniger and Skole to pull within four runs of the Hokies.
Plagman went 3-for-4 to lead Tech’s offense on the night, while Rowland, Skole, Haniger and Burnette finished with two hits apiece.
The two teams will meet for the second game of the three-game ACC series Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Zach Von Tersch (4-0, 4.00 ERA) will take the mound for the Yellow Jackets, and Virginia Tech will counter with Justin Wright (1-1, 6.00).
A live video broadcast of Saturday’s game can be found on ACC Select (www.accselect.com), while WREK (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org) will broadcast the game on radio. Live stats for all Tech baseball games are available at Ramblinwreck.com.