BLACKSBURG, Va. - Home runs by Austin Wates and Tony Balisteri led Virginia Tech to a 7-3 win over VMI on Wednesday evening in non-conference action at English Field.
VMI dropped its second straight in as many days to its longtime state foe, but battled throughout the evening before Tech prevailed. The Keydets collected 11 hits to Tech's nine, and four VMI pitchers were able to keep the team within striking distance.
VMI jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Jordan Ballard homered with two outs following a leadoff single by A.J. Yoder.
Tech rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the second when Wates clubbed a three-run homer on a 2-1 breaking pitch off VMI starter Jeremy Brown (1-3). Brown had started the frame by retiring the first two hitters, but Ronnie Shaban singled and reached third on Tony Balesteri's double before Wates homered to give the Hokies the lead for good.
The Hokies again capitalized on a two-out long ball in the bottom of the fourth. After retiring the first two batters on ground balls, VMI reliever Adam Kruithof was touched for a triple by Shaban before Balesteri, a Rockbridge County native, followed with a two-run blast to push the Hokie lead to 5-2.
Virginia Tech (12-6) extended the margin to 7-2 in the seventh on an Anthony Sosnoskie sacrifice fly plating Wates. The other run came on a two out passed ball that scored Steve Bumbry.
VMI capped the scoring in the eighth when Sam Roberts singled with one out, advanced to second on a Justin Topping base hit, and scored when Brian Sandridge followed with an RBI single.
Hokie starter Josh Wymer scattered five hits and allowed two earned runs in picking up his first win of the year. He struck out five and walked none.
Brown allowed three earned runs in three innings of work while Kruithof surrendered two earned runs and two hits in two innings of relief. Chris Henderson and Sam Roberts each tossed scoreless innings of relief.
VMI (8-10) returns home to resume Big South Conference play Friday afternoon when UNC Asheville visits Gray-Minor Stadium at 4 p.m. to begin a three-game weekend set.
HEAD COACH MARLIN IKENBERRY- "I thought our focus was tremendous tonight. We played pretty decent defense, aside from two fly balls that should have been caught that went down as hits. We left 10 guys on base in the last five innings, and in four of those five innings, we hit line drives to end the inning. If those balls land, then it could be anybody's ballgame."
On six-game road trip (VMI went 3-3 against Norfolk State, Virginia, Presbyterian and Virginia Tech):
"I'm glad that we played the schedule that we play at this juncture of our season. Playing six games against ACC teams, and with the way that we pitched and competed tonight shows me that these guys are ready for conference play. This has been a tough road trip for us in playing these teams, but I think it's great for our program and for our kids to play in these environments and against good teams like Virginia Tech."