Hokies, 15-inning scoreless streak end Chants’ season

Top seed and 16th-ranked Virginia Tech blew open a tight game in the final three innings to eliminate #29 and third-seed Coastal Carolina with a 9-1 victory Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Blacksburg Regional at English Field.

Both teams had just three hits each through five innings. Coastal (37-23) also had a couple breaks go against them early with a runner being thrown out at the plate in the second and Tech (39-21) recording double plays on hit-and-runs in the fifth and sixth innings. The Chants went scoreless over the final seven innings of Friday’s 7-3 loss to Oklahoma and were shut out for the first eight innings on Saturday for a 15-inning scorleess skid.

Devin Burke improved to 11-3 for Tech, throwing a complete game. He allowed five hits and one run with two walks and two strikeouts. As has been the case several times this season, Ben Smith (5-4) was the tough-luck loser. He allowed five hits over 6.1 with three runs (two earned), four walks and five strikeouts.

Virginia Tech broke the scoreless tie in the top of the sixth. Alex Perez drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Mark Zagunis chopped an infield single up the middle. Coastal made a play at first and Perez never stopped running to beat a throw to the plate.

The Hokies expanded their lead to 3-0 in the seventh. Andrew Rash opened the frame with a solo home, his 10th round tripper of the season. Chad Morgan followed with a walk and he was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Kyle Wernicki walked but a passed ball put runners on first and third. Tech made it 3-0 game as Perez welcomed new CCU pitcher Austin Kerr with a safety squeeze, plating Morgan.

Virginia Tech opened the eighth as it did the seventh with Chad Pinder starting the frame with a solo home run to left field for a 4-0 cushion.

The Hokies blew it open in the ninth, sending 11 men to the play and scoring ninth. Wernicki doubled, Perez singled and Sean Kinselica walked to load the bases to start the inning. Pinder followed with an RBI single and Zagunis delivered a two-run run single. Rash cleared the bases with a two-run double to right field.

Coastal avoided the shutout when Jacob May, who went 2-for-4, hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, giving him seven home runs for the season.

May ends the season with an 11-game hit streak and he reached base in each of his final 27 games of 2013.

Also, Coastal Ryan Connolly worked an inning in relief to give the senior 139 for his career to rank fifth on the NCAA all-time list and shattering the CCU and Big South marks of 117. He ends his career with a 2.23 record career ERA to stand as the Big South career leader, passing former teammate Anthony Meo (2.52) for the honor.

Nick Oberg missed the opening game of the regional and would end up having his appendix removed Friday night in Blacksburg. He was discharged from the hospital and arrived at English Field 30 minutes prior to first pitch.

Photo courtesy of VT Athletics

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