Thursday, May 22nd, 1997
Hokies Defeat USC!!!
Virginia Tech's Matt Reynolds homered twice, the second time coming in the top of the ninth to break a 2-2 tie, to lead the Hokies to a 3-2 victory over USC in the first round of the South II Regional.
Tech was able to pitch their ace, Denny Wagner, against the eleventh-ranked Trojans, and Wagner went the distance for the victory, beating out USC's Scott Henderson, who didn't leave the game until Reynolds homered in the ninth.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Wagner added some drama to the proceedings by giving up a double and a walk. Coach Hartman left Wagner in, and he retired two USC batters to close out the game. The win raises Wagner's record on the year to 10-4, and it is Tech's first NCAA tourney baseball win since 1969.
Tech's other two runs came on a Reynolds solo homer in the top of the fifth, and a Barry Gauch sac fly in the sixth that brought home Eric Shiflett.
Tech will take on N.C. State next at 8 p.m. on Friday night. For those of you who live locally, the game will be broadcast on WNNI 1260 AM, with Bill Roth, voice of the Hokies, doing the play-by-play.
Two good resources I've been able to track down for following the scores are the official NCAA baseball site and Tech's own baseball page (I think Damien Salas is travelling with the Hokies and updating the page remotely). I tried to find the scores on ESPNet, USAToday, and CNN, and it's almost impossible to find college baseball scores, much less up to date ones. Here are links to the official NCAA baseball page and Tech's baseball page:
Friday, May 23rd, 1997
Hokies Fall to N.C. State
Virginia Tech hung tight with the N.C. State Wolfpack for most of the game before folding late. State broke open a 6-5 game with 6 runs in the top of the 9th. Tech was able to counter with 1 run in the bottom of the 9th, and they proceeded to put two men on with no outs, but the NCSU bullpen then shut the Hokies down for the 12-6 victory.
Tech starter John Hand, now 5-9 on the year, pitched well, but he was removed in the top of the 8th, when all heck proceeded to break loose. The Hokies gave up two in the 8th and six in the 9th to send them to the loss.
This is the second straight game State has scored a bunch of runs late for the victory. In round 1, the Pack trailed 8-0 after six innings and stormed back to beat Wichita State, 10-9. It appears that red-hot Virginia Tech has managed to encouter one of the few teams that can cool them off.
The Hokies are now slated for a rematch with USC Saturday afternoon, at 3:50 p.m. The winner of the Hokies/Trojans rematch will have to play again Saturday night, and will in fact have to win 3 straight games to reach the college world series. Tech's starter will most likely be freshman Todd Zirkle. The game will be broadcast on 1260 AM, with Bill Roth doing the play by play.
Troy State and Wichita State have both been eliminated from the South II Regional. This leaves Tech and USC with one loss apiece, and N.C. State and Alabama, with no losses.
Saturday, May 24th, 1997
Hokies Eliminated by USC
Tech's Cinderella postseason run finally came to an end Saturday as Southern Cal gained revenge for a first round loss and eliminated the Hokies, 6-2.
Tech starter Todd Zirkle was a little rough around the edges from the beginning, while USC's pitching staff was in control the whole way (Tech's two runs were both unearned). The Trojans scored one run in the 2nd and 3rd innings, and two runs in the 4th and 5th innings to take a 6-0 lead.
After Tech scored 2 in the top of the 6th and then turned a nice double play in the bottom of the inning, the Hokies were in it and had the momentum at 6-2. Alas, Tech was never able to muster any more offense, and the score held up.
Still, this Tech team, laden with freshman and sophomores, has a bright future. If they can find a bullpen and a starter to replace ace Denny Wagner (who will probably go pro after this year), the boys in orange and maroon could well be back in future NCAA's. The possibility of returning in the coming years makes this year's unexpected NCAA experience that much more valuable.