BLACKSBURG – After changing schedules due to bad weather on Friday and Saturday, Virginia Tech swept baseball Kent State on Sunday in their first games of the 2021 season, winning the first competition 3-1 and the second 9-2 at English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park.
The Hokies (2-0) beat the Golden Flashes (0-2) to improve the lead in the overall series 10-3. The last time the two met was in 2013 when Tech won 8-1.
“It was a great day for our team,” the Tech coach said John Szefc so. “Many boys contributed to the two victories. We played 18 rounds and made no mistakes – it’s a good day right there.
“In game 2, when [Shane] Connolly came in, he did a job. I really thought that was the difference in the ball game for the other. “
Chris Gerard (1-0) got the call to Tech in Game 1. His last appearance was March 6, 2020 when he threw 5.2 laps and allowed only one race with six strikes.
The Hokies scored 12 runs in 11 hits on Sunday, including home runs from Gavin Cross in Game 2, Tech’s first home run of the season and Cross’ first career.
Kent State started its MLB top-100 prospect Luke Albright (0-1) against Tech to start the series. The Hokies jumped to an early lead at the bottom of the first after a basic RBI from Kevin Madden. Golden Flashes answered at the top of the third with a separate race.
Gerard threw six powerful laps that allowed only two races and seven strikes.
Tech jumped out to an early 3-0 lead at the bottom of the first half on a walk and single from Swisher and Schobel. Cross extended the lead at the bottom of the second with a two-run bomb to the right field bullpen, his first career homer.
Anthony Simonelli (1-0) was pointless through five strong innings and ended the day with four strikes and just one race.
Connolly entered the game on top of the seventh, inheriting a one-out base-loaded jam. With pressure, the Citadel transfer struck the next two strokes to keep the Golden Flashes from scoring. The Hokies added four more assists in the final two laps to win 9-2.
– Gerard’s seven strike competitions tied the second most strikes on the opening day in the last 12 years. The highest was Rhett Ballard with nine February. 20, 2009 against UNC Asheville.
– Madden recorded two hits in game 1, and marked his 24th career multi-hit games. His last was on March 10, 2020 against William and Mary.
– Schobel made an impressive college debut, posting three RBIs and his first extra hit.
Tech meets Radford (2-1) on Tuesday Feb. 23 at 14 Hokies leads the series 48-15 and has won three in a row.