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May 10, 2010

25 years ago - May 14, 1985

By: Jimmy Robertson

In the spring of 1984, Doug Waters started the Hokie Huddler, a publication devoted to the coverage of Virginia Tech athletics. The publication has changed names and formats over the course of 25 years, and this year, we want to celebrate the silver anniversary of the publication by taking a look back at what transpired at Virginia Tech in 1984-85

This month, we’re looking at the May 14 issue, with Waters focusing on the 1985 Metro Conference baseball tournament, an event in which the Hokies finished third and ended their season with a 50-16-1 record:

Metro Tournament notes

By Doug Waters

May 14, 1985

Before looking at some of the records and other notable achievements of this year’s Hokie baseball team, let’s look at one of the travesties: shortstop Brian Henderson’s name being left off of the Metro all-tournament team.

Henderson had an outstanding series. Besides hitting .368, scoring eight runs, and knocking in two more, Henderson made some dazzling plays in the field, often ranging deep in the hole to take away base hits.

Yet only three Tech players were voted to the all-tourney team, and Henderson was not among them. The three who made it were catcher Chuck Boyle, pitcher Dell Curry and designated hitter Peery Agee.

Boyle batted only .211, but drove in six runs and hit two home runs. Curry made a good showing for himself in six innings in Tech’s win over Florida State on Friday. And Agee batted .307, getting four hits in 13 at-bats, including one home run.

COURAGE: Boyle probably got some votes just for his courage. Saturday morning against South Carolina, Boyle had a ball bounce off the plate and hit him in the throat. He wobbled to the pitcher’s mound and finally had to be led away, and then was taken away by ambulance.

But he returned for the afternoon game against Tulane.

One footnote to that story: the South Carolina fans, undoubtedly the worst baseball fans in the conference, saw fit to jeer Boyle even as he was trying to recover from being hit in the throat.

Coach Chuck Hartman congratulates George Canale for his home run against Tulane.

HOME RUN LEADER: Third baseman Billy Plante’s two homers in the Metro Tourney gave him 60 for his career, eclipsing the previous record of 59 by former first baseman Franklin Stubbs.

Plante finished with 27 for the season, only two short of Stubbs’ record of 29.

George Canale, only a sophomore, clubbed four home runs in the tournament to raise his season total to 26 and his career total to 47, which means he needs only 14 taters next year to push the career record even higher.

RECORD MEN: Virginia Tech made more records this year than Michael Jackson and Prince put together.

Centerfielder Tim Buheller, who earlier this season set season and career records for stolen bases, collected six hits during the tournament to give him 92 for the season, breaking the old record of 88 by Jim Stewart. However, Buheller must share his new record: Shaun Sullivan stroked 10 hits during the tourney – all singles – to give him 92, also.

That gave Sullivan, a senior rightfielder, 261 for his career, breaking the old career mark of 251 by Brian Rupe.

Sullivan also set a new career mark for doubles. His 17 doubles this season gave him 57 for his career, 13 better than the old record by Jay Phillips.

Plante broke the season record for runs batted in with 88, five better than Stubbs’ record of 83, but his career total of 187 fell short of Stubbs’ career mark of 196.

Pitcher Bean Stringfellow also got into the record act with 119 strikeouts this season, breaking the old mark of 93 by Mike Arrington.

Stringfellow smashed Arrington’s career strikeout record of 232 by running his career total to 266.

Had he been able to pick up a win during the Metro Tourney, Stringfellow would have tied the single-season record for wins, but his final record ended up 10-3.

WHAT A DEBUT: Coach Chuck Hartman had hoped basketball star Dell Curry might contribute to the team this year as a pitcher, but he probably had no idea that Curry would do so well.

The junior right-hander, making his first appearance in a Tech baseball uniform, finished the season with a 6-1 record, including victories over South Carolina and Florida State. His lone loss was a 3-2 heartbreaker to Virginia, with all three runs being unearned.

Curry’s earned run average was a very respectable 3.99, and he notched a 2.57 ERA in the Metro Tourney against one of the best-hitting teams in baseball.

Curry was drafted by the Texas Rangers out of high school, and one wonders how much attention he attracted this season.

THE LEADERS: Tech had six players bat .300 or better during the Metro Tournament. They were: Shaun Sullivan (.455, 10-for-22); Doug Baase (.400, 8-for-20); Brian Henderson (.368, 7-for-19); Fritz Hamburg (.333, 1-for-3); Peery Agee (.307, 4-for-13); and Greg Mance (.300, 6-for-20).

HOW DID THEY LOSE?: The Hokies ran up some impressive team statistics in Tallahassee. They batted .302 as a team, outscored their opponents 45-37, out-hit them 58-56, out-homered them 11-6, knocked in more RBI 39-34, and turned 10 double plays to only one for all the opponents combined.

So how did they lose? A big reason was lack of control by the Tech pitchers. The Hokies gave up 31 walks to only 12 by their opponents. Tech pitchers stayed behind the hitters most of the time and got into trouble countless times because of bases on balls.

THE WINNERS: The three winning pitchers for Tech at the Metro were Curry, freshman reliever Wally Galla and senior reliever Joe Salisbury.

ANOTHER FINE SEASON: Coach Chuck Hartman entered his seventh Tech season with a 25-year coaching mark of 714-306 for a winning percentage of .700.

He improved on that this season. Tech’s 50-16-1 record translates into a winning percentage of .757.

This year equaled the most wins Tech has had under Hartman, but it fell short of the best winning percentage. The 1982 club was 50-9, which is an .847 winning percentage. Yet that team won only one game in the Metro Tournament compared to this year’s, which won three.