Virginia Tech comes up short in opener to Miami, 8-6

BLACKSBURG – Coming back from four runs down on Friday night, the Virginia Tech baseball team clawed its way to the 6-5 lead through six innings of play against Miami, despite finishing on the wrong side of the 8-6, series-opening result at English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park.

On graduation day, senior Gehrig Ebel recorded the first multi-homer game of his collegiate career, barreling a two-run shot during the bottom of the fourth inning and later the go-ahead, solo homer during the bottom of the sixth inning. Ebel was one of three Hokies who belted multiple hits on Friday, joining leadoff second baseman Christian Martin (2-for-4) and the ACC batting leader, Ben Watson (2-for-5).

Freshman right-hand starter Brett Renfrow bounced back for Virginia Tech (31-16, 13-12 ACC) after allowing each of the game's first four batters to score. Miami (22-26, 9-16 ACC) charged out to the 4-0 lead courtesy of back-to-back home runs by Daniel Cuvet (three-run shot) and Dorian Gonzalez Jr. (solo homer), putting Renfrow in his largest deficit faced on the mound this season.

Renfrow ultimately went five and one-third innings for the Hokies, notching eight strikeouts – his second highest output this season.

Tech broke through for the first time against right-hand starter Gage Ziehl during the bottom of the third inning when Watson doubled into the left field corner, scoring Martin from first base. At the time, Watson's 2-for-2 start to the evening crept his season batting average up to .426 (80-for-188).

Virginia Tech made up the remaining ground during the bottom of the fourth inning, relying on a pair of mammoth home run swings that leveled the game at 4-4.

Ebel slid Tech within a run by peppering his two-run shot down the left field line, two batters before DeMartini crushed a milestone, solo homer to right field. DeMartini's 44th career home run moved him into sole possession of fifth place on the Hokies' all-time home runs list while his 19th home run of the season tied the program's ACC era single-season mark (Tanner Schobel, 2022).

Dorian Gonzalez answered Tech's power with the go-ahead solo home run during the top of the fifth inning, temporarily positioning the Hurricanes in front, 5-4. However, the Hokies turned a pair of leadoff singles by Chris Cannizzaro and Eddie Micheletti Jr. into the game-tying run, as brought in by Clay Grady on his sacrifice fly to right field.

With Ebel's second home run of the night allowing Tech to carry its 6-5 lead into the seventh inning, Miami capitalized on two walks by Wyatt Parliament and Jordan Little, loading the bases with none out. David Shoemaker did his part to induce the 4-6-3 double play that helped the Hokies out of the inning, despite coming at the cost of the Hurricanes' game-tying run.

Virginia Tech had a prime chance to take the lead during the bottom of the eighth inning when Sam Tackett's pinch-hit double to right center field led to the Hokies loading the bases with one out. Rolling the dice on a squeeze play, Tech accidentally played itself out of the rally as DeMartini was unable to bunt Myles Caba's poor 0-1 delivery, resulting in Tackett being tagged out at the plate – immediately preceding DeMartini's inning-ending strikeout.

Miami used the defeating sequence to its advantage as Jacoby Long and Cuvet both homered during the ninth inning, icing the game for the Hurricanes.

Virginia Tech's 14 strikeouts on the mound marked the most Miami's offense had endured during a game this season.

Cuvet's two home run swings netted him four RBIs to lead the Hurricanes while Long went 3-for-5 from the leadoff spot. Caba earned the victory for the visitors, striking out six Tech batters during his four innings of relief while allowing one lone run.

Virginia Tech will play to even the series against Miami on Saturday, May 11. First pitch between the Hokies and the Hurricanes at English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park is scheduled for 7 p.m. Senior Night pregame festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m.Gallery: (5-10-2024) BSB: Miami Game 1