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Hokie Baseball Returns To The Field

by Dave Ruffo
Sports Writer
April 23, 2007

The Virginia Tech baseball team took to the field Friday night against Miami as Hokie athletics took its first step towards a return to normalcy.

Four hours before the game, the entire baseball team dressed in their uniforms and paid tribute to all of the lives that were lost by placing a baseball in front of each of the 32 memorials on the Drillfield.

“We won before we got to the field today,” said Tech head coach Pete Hughes.

The University of Miami presented a $10,000 check to Coach Hughes to be placed in the Hokie Spirit and Memorial Fund and each of the Miami players and coaches wore black armbands to honor the victims.

English Field saw the largest crowd in its history as 3,132 fans decked out in orange and maroon saw the Hokies almost pull off a movie-like comeback.

With one on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and trailing 11-9, Tech shortstop Warren Schaeffer crushed the second pitch he saw to deep left field sending the fans to their feet.

Everyone in the stands and in the dugouts thought the ball was gone; everyone that is except leftfielder Nick Freitas who timed his jump perfectly and snatched the ball as it traveled over the fence to end the game.

“I thought it was gone when I heard it come off the bat,” said Schaeffer, “but it just wasn’t to be apparently.”

Stunned, all of the players and fans could do nothing but put their hands on top of their heads as they tried to comprehend what had just happened. As has been the case, though, this entire week, Hokie pride shined bright once again as the team received a standing ovation as they saluted the crowd.

The team may have lost the game, but it won in the big picture as things finally seemed normal once again on the Virginia Tech campus, if only for three little hours.

Coming off of the emotional loss, the Hokies put forth their best effort of the weekend Saturday night.

Tech starter Greg Fryman pitched an inspired game giving up only three runs (two earned runs) and striking out five in seven innings of work.

However, the Hokies would fall short once again as the Hurricanes scored in the eighth inning on a wild pitch by Rhett Ballard to give them a 4-3 victory.

Bryan Thomas paced the Hokie offense going a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate and knocking in a run while Steve Bumbry recorded two hits of his own and scored a run.

Mark Sobolewski and Richard O’Brien each had two hits and an RBI for Miami and Sobolewski blasted his fourth homerun of the season.

Tech actually out-hit the Hurricanes 7-6 as the wild pitch proved to be the difference.

In the weekend finale, the Hokies got out to a quick 3-0 lead after the first inning and were up 5-2 after two innings, but the Hurricanes responded with seven unanswered runs and completed the series sweep, winning 9-5.

Miami’s Sobolewski and Dennis Raben combined to go 7-for-9 with six runs scored and two RBI while shortstop Ryan Jackson recorded three RBI.

Thomas, Sean Ryan and Sean O’Brien each collected two hits for the Hokies and O’Brien scored two runs.

Miami moved above .500 in the ACC with the win to 11-10 and improved to 25-17 overall.

Tech’s record fell to 4-17 in the ACC and 17-23 overall.

The Hokies will next host James Madison on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.