BLACKSBURG, Va. – Staked an early lead by Gavin Cross hitting his 12th home run of the season on Saturday, the No. 5 Virginia Tech baseball team held off No. 7 Louisville, 4-3, to even the teams’ top-10 ACC series at English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park.Cross was sound on both sides of the ball for Virginia Tech (35-11, 15-9 ACC), which defeated Louisville (35-14-1, 16-9-1 ACC) for the first time since the Cardinals joined the league in 2015. Tech’s third-year outfielder homered to account for the first two runs of the Hokies’ three-run third inning, later inducing the timely 8-4 double play during the eighth inning that wiped the bases clean for reliever Henry Weycker.
Freshman right-hander Drue Hackenberg was stellar again for Tech, improving his record to 9-1 after his six and one-third innings on the mound. Hackenberg eclipsed seven strikeouts for the sixth time during his rookie season, holding Louisville to two runs on five hits while walking one.
Nick Biddison went 2-for-5 from the leadoff spot to pace the Hokies, beating out an infield single to trigger Tech’s third-inning rally. Jack Hurley and Cade Hunter sandwiched base hits around a nine-pitch walk to Conor Hartigan to keep the Hokies alive in the inning, loading the bases for Eduardo Malinowski to carry the sacrifice fly to center field that pushed Tech’s lead to 3-0. Hackenberg allowed one hit through four innings before Cameron Masterman’s single to open the fifth inning woke up the Louisville bats. Gifting a four-pitch walk to Logan Beard, Hackenberg conceded the first of two run-scoring singles he would surrender on the day as Brandon Anderson slapped a base hit up the middle to put the Cardinals on the scoreboard.
Despite rookie third baseman Carson DeMartini snagging a hot-shot line drive to start the seventh inning, Isaac Humphrey and Beard united on back-to-back singles to yield a one-run game and send Hackenberg packing. However, Weycker needed one pitch to retire the Cardinals, generating the 6-6-3 double play that stifled the rally and kept Tech on top, 3-2. Hartigan set the Hokies up for a critical insurance run during the bottom of the eighth inning, cracking a leadoff single off Garrett Schmeltz before Brennan Reback lifted him as a pinch runner.
Three batters after Hunter had bunted Reback into scoring position, DeMartini stroked an RBI single up the middle, giving Weycker a two-run cushion heading into the ninth inning. With rain irritating play, Weycker battled to put away the Cardinals, striking out Levi Usher before an errant throw by Malinowski introduced the potential tying run at the plate. Balking off a wet mound and hitting Humphrey in the back shoulder, Weycker surrendered an RBI single to Beard, shifting the tying run into scoring position. However, Hurley tracked down a fly ball in foul territory for the all-important second out before Weycker whiffed Drake Westcott on three pitches, locking down his first career save.
UP NEXTNo. 5 Virginia Tech will compete for its eighth consecutive ACC series victory on Sunday, May 15, when the Hokies host the series finale against No. 7 Louisville. First pitch at English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park has been moved up to 11 a.m. (previously 1 p.m.).