Starting pitcher Zach Messinger and four relievers combined on a six-hitter while striking out 10 and walking three, leading the eighth-seeded Cavaliers to a 3-2 win over the 12th-seeded Hokies on the opening day of the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship at Truist Field.
The Cavaliers (28-22) built a 3-0 lead behind Jake Gelof’s second-inning sacrifice fly and Kyle Teel’s two-run homer in the third, and that proved just enough offense for their 11th win in the last 15 games.
Virginia Tech (27-24) received a solid bullpen performance of its owns as Shane Connolly closed the game by allowing retiring 15 of the 16 batters he faced over the final five innings, allowing just one base hit while walking none. But Virginia held on.
Messinger (3-1), making his team-high 22nd appearance of the year but only his fourth start, allowed a two-run homer to Tanner Schobel in the top of the sixth, but departed having allowed just four hits and Virginia clinging to its one-run lead.
Brandon Neeck, Blake Bales, All-ACC first-team starting pitcher Andrew Abbott and Kyle Whitten took over from there, checking the Hokies on two hits in the final 3 2/3 innings. Whitten worked a perfect ninth inning for his first save of the year.
Teel’s homer off Virginia Tech starter Peyton Alford (2-6) was the Cavalier freshman’s eighth of the season.
Virginia Tech faces a short turnaround before facing top-seeded Notre Dame (29-10) as Pool A action continues on Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. Virginia returns to action versus the Fighting Irish in Friday’s 11 a.m. game, with the winner of that contest advancing to Saturday’s 1 p.m. semifinal game.