Radford baseball beats VT in Pulaski

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Shane Johnsonbaugh connects on a home run. Courtesy of Radford Athletics
Shane Johnsonbaugh connects on a home run.                                                                                                     Courtesy of Radford Athletics
The baseball team celebrates their win over the Hokies. Courtesy of Radford Athletics
The baseball team celebrates their win over the Hokies.                                                                                         Courtesy of Radford Athletics

Michael Marzzacco | mmarzzacco@radford.edu

Radford University and Virginia Tech taking the diamond has become an annual tradition at both colleges, but on Wednesday night they met at a Minor League park. For the first time ever, the beautiful and historic Calfee Park in Pulaski, Virginia – the usual home to the Pulaski Yankees – hosted the New River Valley rivalry.

Before a crowd all clad in either orange and maroon or red, white, and blue, the Highlanders got a 5-1 victory. It gave Radford the season series win over VT two games to one.

Tyler Swarmer took the mound for Radford and in the first inning. He hit the leadoff batter, who advanced to second on a fielder’s choice, but Swarmer struck out the next two hitters. Radford got the scoring started in the first inning.  Danny Hrbek reached first base on a fielders choice and Trevor Riggs walked to put runners on first and second. Jonathan Gonzalez came up and hit a first pitch fastball into centerfield to score Hrbek for the 1-0 lead.

After VT tied the game in the top of the second, Radford answered in the bottom frame. With two outs, Luke Wise hit a double off the centerfield wall. He came around to score on a Chris Coia single. Shane Johnsonbaugh broke the contest open with a two-run homer over the right-centerfield wall.

“I was looking for a good pitch to hit. He threw three straight balls at me. Had one fastball, but nothing good to hit. I was looking for something in the zone to crush, he left it open, and I nailed it out,” said Johnsonbaugh.

Swarmer continued to deal the next two innings. He only scattered two hits and struck out two batters. The Hokies threatened in the top of the fifth as they drew three straight walks with two outs. With the bases loaded, Swarmer remained calm and got the next hitter to fly out to right field.

In the fifth, Riggs led off with a double down the left field line and advanced to third with a groundout by Gonzalez. Jordan Taylor came up and gave Radford their last run of the game with an RBI groundout.

Swarmer, who faced VT all three times this season, allowed just three hits and one unearned run over five innings with a career high five strikeouts. Radford went to the bullpen in the sixth inning when Travis McQueen came on. McQueen has given VT batters fits all season and Wednesday night was no exception. He struck out the first two batters and dominated the rest of the way. He finished with 11 strikeouts in six innings against the Hokies this season. McQueen was on for three innings.

Daniel Bridgeman came on in the ninth, forced two groundouts and a fly out to secure the 5-1 win.

“It’s really not about winning the series, but winning today. The game was important to us, because we have not been playing well. Every opportunity we get to play a baseball game with a young team is to get our confidence going and to try to play the game the right way. That’s very valuable and we achieved that,” said Radford head coach Joe Raccuia.

Radford hit the road this past weekend at Winthrop for a three game series, but were only able to win one game, 15-8 on Saturday.

Radford played in Charlottesville at UVA on Tuesday night. This weekend, the Highlanders return home with a three game series with George Mason beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.