BLACKSBURG — It was another disappointing afternoon at the ballpark for Virginia Tech.
While the Hokies got off to a promising start their bullpen couldn’t hold down a late lead for a second straight day, as Tech fell to Virginia 5-3 in the second game of their weekend ACC series at English Field on Friday.
The loss came less than 24 hours after the Hokies (25-27, 8-21) dropped a marathon 11-inning game 8-6 to Virginia that didn’t get done until close to midnight Thursday. It was the longest game in either program’s history lasting 5 hours, 31 minutes.
That, combined with Boston College’s win over Notre Dame, also dashed Tech’s hopes of making the ACC tournament.
Like the previous night, Tech took an early lead on Friday thanks to a pair of home runs.
But Virginia (32-21, 14-15) blew the game open with four runs in the top of the seventh. The Cavaliers tied Thursday night’s game with a run in the eighth after trailing 6-2 in the fourth.
It was Tech’s fourth straight loss and ninth in the last 10 games.
“You can’t really say anything that’s going to make guys feel any better,“ Virginia Tech coach John Szefc said.
Virginia starting pitcher Chesdin Harrington (5-1) got into a grove, retiring 11 straight after Dalton Harum’s one-out single in the fourth. He exited the game after giving up a ground-rule double to Kerry Carpenter in the eighth inning.
It was only Harrington’s second start this season after spending most of the year coming out of the bullpen. He won his 2019 starting debut last weekend over Louisville.
“Chesdin Harrington was spectacular,” Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. “We decided to inject him into the starting rotation last weekend against Louisville and he was terrific. He was terrific again today.”
Virginia Tech also got a strong outing from its starting pitcher Chris Gerard (3-2). The freshman pitched five scoreless innings — a perfect third inning — and pitched into the seventh for the second time this season. The longest outing of Gerard’s young career came against Florida State on March 9, when he pitched seven scoreless innings in a win over the Seminoles.
Gerard worked his way out of trouble multiple times. After hitting Brendan Rivoli and walking Zack Gelof in the fourth, Gerard ended the inning striking out Nate Eikhoff after falling behind 3-0 in the count.
Virginia threatened again in the sixth, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Gerard allowed three hits in the inning, but managed to limit the damage to one run. He wasn’t as lucky in the seventh when he exited the game after allowing a single to Logan Michaels with one out.
Michaels tied the game, 2-2, coming around to score after right-hander Connor Yoder loaded the bases and walked in the run. Rivoli knocked in a pair of runs with an RBI-double and the Cavaliers added another run on a sacrifice fly from Zach Gelof.
“I was proud of our guys, our guys responded and came with a lot of energy especially in the back part of the game,” O'Connor said. “You know, they are young. It’s the coaches that need their sleep, right? I was just proud of them. We have a lot to play for, every game from this point out determines are fate in the NCAA tournament. We have to go out and play well.”
Gerard, who ended up with a no-decision, gave up two earned runs on seven hits (only one extra-base hit) and a walk with two strikeouts.
“He commanded the zone pretty well, made some solid pitches when he had to and got out of jams,” Szefc said. “We just didn’t support him, unfortunately.”
Fellow freshman Nick Biddison gave the Hokies an early 1-0 lead with a towering shot over the left field fence to lead off the second inning. The home run tied him with three other former Hokies for second all-time for home runs in a single season by a freshman.
Right fielder Kerry Carpenter hit his team-leading 10th of the year an inning later to make it 2-0. Carpenter (2-4) and Biddison (1-3 with a walk) were the only Hokies player to reach base twice. Biddison came around to score in the ninth off an RBI single from Nick Holesa.
“If you are going to beat them, you are going to have to earn everything you get,” Szefc said.
Virginia will look for the sweep when the teams play the finale of the three-game series at 1 p.m. Saturday. Four Virginia Tech players will be recognized before the game as part of the program's senior day.