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Lopsided loss ends Virginia Tech baseball season

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BLACKSBURG — A memorable Virginia Tech baseball season ended with a lopsided loss Sunday.

Oklahoma squashed No. 4 overall seed Virginia Tech 11-2 in the decisive Game 3 of their best-of-three NCAA Super Regional series at English Field.

The Hokies (45-14), who were playing in a Super Regional for the first time, fell one win short of making their first trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

“It sucks that we didn’t accomplish our ultimate goal, getting to Omaha, but I think that we accomplished a lot of things,” said Nick Biddison, who struck out twice. “We’re all going to look back on the season as a success, though our last game was kind of a failure. But I think everything that we’ve done is pretty special.”

Tech’s usually potent lineup was held to a season-low two hits.

“This sucks pretty bad,” said Cade Hunter, who struck out four times. “We didn’t get it done on offense today and that’s pretty much the moral of the story. Not too much to be happy about, but we could still celebrate the season and what we did together.”

The Hokies struck out 14 times. They were held without a hit for the final six innings.

The top seven hitters in the Tech batting order, including standouts Biddison, Gavin Cross, Tanner Schobel, Jack Hurley and Hunter, were held without a hit.

Oklahoma (42-22), which had gone on the road to win the Gainesville Regional the previous weekend, advanced to the College World Series for the first time since 2010.

“Dream come true,” said Oklahoma’s Tanner Tredaway, who had two homers and two doubles Sunday.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been wanting to go to Omaha,” said Sooners left fielder Kendall Pettis, who homered and made two great catches.

The loss ends a special season for the Hokies.

After being picked to finish sixth in the Coastal Division in the ACC coaches’ preseason poll, Tech earned the Coastal title and the top seed in the ACC tournament for the first time in its history. The Hokies made the NCAAs for the first time in nine years and won an NCAA regional for the first time ever.

“This group of guys is a very special group of guys,” coach John Szefc said. “I know it stinks right now, but … what they’ve accomplished, … it’ll be the standard that future teams here will try to work to live up to.”

Only three of the nine players in Sunday’s batting order will likely be back next year. Tech will no doubt lose Cross, Schobel, Hunter and Biddison to the major league draft, while this was the final year of eligibility for graduate transfers Eduardo Malinowski and Conor Hartigan.

Cross, a junior who struck out twice Sunday, is expected to be chosen in the first round of next month’s draft.

“The relationships with these guys pretty much [are] all I’ll remember,” Cross said. “We had a great year, did things that this place has never done. But just the friendships that will last forever [will stand out].

“One of the things that we wanted to accomplish … was kind of turn the program around, take it places we haven’t been. … We’ve done that, … and kind of changed how Virginia Tech baseball’s looked at.”

Schobel, a draft-eligible sophomore, is rated the No. 76 draft prospect in the nation by Baseball America.

“This is the best team I’ve ever been a part of,” Schobel said. “I would do anything for these guys.”

Hunter, a junior, is rated the No. 95 draft prospect in the country by Baseball America.

“I’m just going to remember the success we’ve had,” Hunter said. “I’ll never forget any of these guys. I’ll be in contact with all of them for the rest of my life.”

Biddison, a senior, is also expected to be drafted.

“What we’ve done for the program, the school … is pretty special,” Biddison said. “We all made this place better and took this place somewhere it hasn’t been in a very long time.”

On Saturday, Tech had 15 hits and smacked five homers in a 14-8 win that evened the series at one game apiece.

But on Sunday, it was the Sooners’ turn to bang out 15 hits and belt five homers. All the homers were solo shots.

Tech got subpar starting pitching for the third straight day.

Hokies starter Jordan Geber (1-2) was pulled in the fourth inning Sunday with his team down 3-2. He allowed five hits, including three solo homers, and four earned runs.

All-ACC third-team pick Griffin Green took the loss in Game 1 on Friday, when he was pulled in the second inning. He allowed three earned runs, one hit and one walk and also hit two batters. It was his second straight rocky start.

All-ACC first-team pick Drue Hackenberg lasted just 2 2/3 innings Saturday. The freshman allowed three earned runs, two hits and three walks and also hit two batters. It was his third straight rough start.

“Griffin’s been dealing with a problem with one of his fingers,” Szefc said. “Hackenberg went from pitching probably 40 innings last year in high school to [92 2/3] … this year. My guess is the tank was a little low.”

Tech brought in four pitchers from the bullpen Sunday. Each gave up at least one earned run.

“The last two days, we had to go to the pen pretty early,” Szefc said. “I don’t know whether our guys were tired or … didn’t have anything left in the tank.”

Sooners starter Cade Horton (4-2) got the win Sunday. He allowed two earned runs and two hits in six-plus innings. He struck out eight and walked two.

Carson DeMartini belted a two-run homer off Horton to tie the game at 2 in the third inning. But it was Tech’s final hit of the game.

The Sooners answered with three runs in the fourth to grab a 5-2 lead. Tredaway started the outburst with his second solo homer of the day.

After the next batter singled, Geber was pulled in favor of Henry Weycker. After a walk and a fielder’s choice grounder, Brett Squires hit an RBI single and Pettis had a run-scoring sacrifice fly.

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Mark Berman covers Virginia Tech men’s basketball and many other teams at the university. He also helps cover other colleges, including Radford, VMI, Roanoke, Washington and Lee and Ferrum.

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