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June 6, 2010

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Virginia Tech Post-Game Press Conference
The Citadel Post-Game Press Conference

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Four one-run innings and a strong pitching performance from three Virginia Tech starters gave the Hokies a 4-3 victory over The Citadel in the NCAA Baseball Columbia Regional, propelling the Hokies into the regional championship game. An announced crowd of 4,224 watched Virginia Tech avenge its earlier loss to the Bulldogs on a hot, humid Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium.

Virginia Tech (40-21) avenged a loss to the Bulldogs in Friday’s opening game of the regional to advance to the regional championship game where it will face host South Carolina at 7 p.m. The Citadel (43-22) sees one of its most successful seasons come to an end – the second-most wins in school history – but not without putting up a tough fight against the Hokies.

The teams combined for the lowest-scoring game thus far in the Columbia Regional with just seven runs on a combined 17 hits. Pitching from both sides was outstanding as Virginia Tech used three hurlers and The Citadel made it nine innings with just two arms.

Joe Mantiply (4-1) picked up the win in relief for Virginia Tech, pitching 3.2 innings after starter Jesse Hahn left the game with a strained right forearm in the top of the fourth. Mantiply gave up all three Citadel runs (two earned) on four hits, striking out four and walking one. Ben Rowen earned his sixth save of the season, shutting down The Citadel over the final 2.1 innings by limiting the Bulldogs to only two hits and posting two strikeouts.

Citadel freshman starter Michael Clevinger (5-3) took the loss in a hard-luck manner after one of the best outings of his young career, tossing a season-best 7.2 innings, giving up four runs on nine hits while striking out four. Bulldog reliever Drew Mahaffey was perfect in relief, retiring all three batters he faced in 1.1 innings of work.

Right fielder Austin Wates once again led the Virginia Tech offensive attach, going 2-4 with a double, triple and 2 RBI. He is 7-12 through three games in the tournament with two doubles, a triple and eight RBIs. Left fielder Buddy Sosnoskie hit his third home run in as many at-bats in the second inning, driving in his seventh and eighth runs of the tournament as well. Sean Ryan (2-4) had the other multi-hit game for the Hokies.

Matt Simonelli paced The Citadel with a 2-5 day with one RBI. Second baseman Bryan Altman extended his hitting streak to 11 games and picked up his seventh hit of the regional, which equals Wates for tops in the Columbia Regional.

The Hokies gradually built an early lead with one in the first and another in the second. A two-out triple in the first from Wates brought home Michael Seaborn from first base to give Virginia Tech a 1-0 lead, then a solo home run from Buddy Sosnoskie – his third straight at-bat to leave the yard – made it 2-0 Hokies. Virginia Tech added another in the third after a pair of singles and a stolen base put Ryan at third and Domecus at second with one out. Wates once again came through with a grounder to second, picking up his second RBI as Ryan scored to make it 3-0.

But Virginia Tech would suffer a blow in the fourth as Hahn was removed from the game with an injury, derailing what had been a solid start to the game. And the Citadel would take advantage of Mantiply immediately. Altman extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a double into the left-field corner, then moved up to third as the Hokie left fielder misplayed the bounce off the wall. A Justin Mackert single would bring home Altman to put the Bulldogs on the board at 3-1. A groundout and a base on balls later, Grant Richards laced a base hit to right field to bring home Mackert and bring The Citadel within a run at 3-2.

The middle of Virginia Tech’s order came up big once again in the sixth when Wates led off with a double, moved to third on a single by Ronnie Shaban, then scored on a Sosnoskie groundout to extend the Hokie lead to 4-2. But again, The Citadel responded in the seventh. After William Ladd reached second on an error and Brad Felder got aboard after being hit by a pitch, Simonelli delivered a two-out RBI single to plate Ladd and bring the Bulldogs back within a run at 4-3.

Virginia Tech went in order in each of the last two innings, but The Citadel could not take advantage of a baserunner in both the eighth and the ninth as Rowen was solid in relief to earn the save.