BLACKSBURG – After changing its schedule due to inclement weather on Friday and Saturday, Virginia Tech baseball swept Kent State on Sunday in its first games of the 2021 season, winning the first contest 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 their lead in the overall series 10-3. The last time the two faced each other was in 2013 when Tech won 8-1.
"It was a good day for our group," Tech coach John Szefc said. "A lot of guys contributed to the two wins. We played 18 innings and did not commit an error – that's a good day right there.
"In Game 2, when [Shane] Connolly came in, he did a heck of a job. I really thought that was the difference in the ball game for the second one."
Chris Gerard (1-0) got the call for Tech in Game 1. His last appearance was on March 6, 2020 when he threw 5.2 innings and allowed just one run with six strikeouts.
The Hokies scored 12 runs on 11 hits Sunday, including a home run from Gavin Cross in Game 2, Tech's first home run of the season and Cross' first career knock.
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 in the bottom of the first after a groundout RBI from Kevin Madden. The Golden Flashes answered in the top of the third with a run of their own.
Gerard threw six powerful innings allowing just two runs and seven strikeouts.
Tech jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a walk and single from Swisher and Schobel. Cross extended the lead in the bottom of the second with a two-run bomb to the right-field bullpen, his first career homer.
Anthony Simonelli (1-0) was scoreless through five strong innings and finished the day with four strikeouts and just one run.
Connolly entered the game in the top of the seventh inheriting a one-out bases-loaded jam. With the pressure on, the Citadel transfer struck out the next two batters to keep the Golden Flashes from scoring. The Hokies added four more insurance runs in the last two innings to go on to win 9-2.
- Gerard's seven strikeouts tied the second-most strikeouts on opening day in the last 12 years. The highest was Rhett Ballard with nine on Feb. 20, 2009 against UNC Asheville.
- Madden recorded two hits in Game 1, marking his 24th career multi-hit game. His last one was on March 10, 2020 versus William and Mary.
- Schobel made an impressive collegiate debut, posting three RBIs and his first extra-base hit.
Tech will face the Radford (2-1) on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. The Hokies lead the series 48-15 and have won three in a row.