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June 11, 2013

Hokies home for NCAA regional, see season end with loss to Oklahoma

By: Marc Mullen

Devin Burke’s complete-game victory against Connecticut was a highlight for the Hokies, who played host to
their first NCAA regional.

It was easily the best 14-game stretch played by the Virginia Tech baseball team since the school joined the ACC for the 2004-05 season. The Hokies won 13 of 14 games before falling in the conference’s championship game to North Carolina on May 26, and with that run, they earned a regional host site for the 2013 NCAA Baseball Championship.

The Blacksburg regional produced quality baseball over six games played from May 31 through June 2, and despite the Hokies not advancing to a super regional, being the host site for a regional brought national attention to the Tech baseball program – something not missed by Tech head coach Pete Hughes.

“I thought our guys did a great job for the entire tournament,” Hughes said in a postgame press conference after the Hokies’ 10-4 loss to Oklahoma that ended their season. “The next goal is to sustain this success and keep hosting regionals and advance to the supers. There are a ton of victories that happened this weekend that you don’t see on the baseball field. We got a chance to expose our venue and community nationally, and that is priceless.”

The community certainly showed up to support their team. The Hokies played in front of the largest crowd ever to watch a collegiate baseball game in Blacksburg, as 3,566 attended Tech’s opening game against Connecticut. The largest crowd ever was the 5,311 that saw the 2008 Tech squad take on the New York Yankees on March 18 in an exhibition that honored those who passed away and/or were injured in the previous year’s April 16 shootings.

The total attendance for the six games of the weekend was also a three-day weekend record of 9,275, surpassing the 8,515 (approximated) fans that came out to see No. 1 North Carolina and Tech face each other earlier this season.

Those fans also pushed the season total home attendance to a record of 40,030 fans, or an average of 1,334 per game – almost 400 more fans per game than the previous season’s high. According to a report released weekly by Division I baseball, those numbers were 47th (total) and 49th (average) nationally for the season.

Mantiply suffers only loss in NCAA game

Senior left-handed hurler Joe Mantiply swept through the regular season with a perfect 5-0 record and then earned his sixth win of the season in the Hokies’ 10-1 victory over Virginia in the ACC Baseball Championship’s pool play.

With that victory, Mantiply became the first starting pitcher to post a 6-0 record since the 2002 season when Joe Saunders accomplished the feat. However, in the team’s 5-2 loss to UConn in an NCAA regional game on May 31, Mantiply suffered his first and only loss on the season.

Of note, Brian Fitzgerald was the last Hokie starter to end a season with an unblemished record, as he was 5-0 in 1993, while Rick Knapp was the last to be perfect with more than five wins, finishing 10-0 in 1982.

With his 4.2 frames thrown in the game, Mantiply moved into the top five in career innings pitched at Tech with 299.2 innings, passing Mike Williams (1988-90) by one inning.

Burke almost makes Tech history

In his final start of the 2013 season and his Hokie career, Devin Burke held Coastal Carolina scoreless through 8.1 frames before CCU outfielder Jacob May hit a solo home run in the ninth. But Burke still picked up the win in a 9-1 elimination game victory on June 1.

With the win, Burke earned his 11th victory of the year, tying for the second-most ever in a single season at the school. He won his sixth straight decision. Jason Bush was the last pitcher to win 11 games in a season (1999).

Burke almost made history by throwing a complete-game shutout in an NCAA postseason game. Tech had never shut out an opponent in its 29 NCAA tournament games– let alone got a complete-game shutout effort. The one run allowed did match the lowest output by an opposing team in an NCAA tournament game, tying the 1954 team that beat Clemson 7-1 on May 24.

Horan etches name in record book

Redshirt junior Tyler Horan was 2-for-5 with a double against Oklahoma in the Hokies’ final game of the year, and with those numbers, pushed his season totals into the Tech record book.

Horan finished the 2013 season with 257 at-bats, moving past Tim Buheller into the top spot for most at-bats in a single season. Buheller registered 254 at-bats during the 1985 season.

With the double, Horan ended the year with 26 doubles, good for second all-time in a single season at the school. He sits one ahead of Casey Waller, who had 25 during the 1989 season, and one behind Steve Domecus, who set the school record with 27 in 2010.

Finally, Horan’s two hits in the final game increased his team-high total to 88 hits, moving him into a tie for fifth place in a single season. He tied Jim Stewart, who actually set the school record back in 1982, but has since been passed, and Chad Foutz (1997). Buheller, Domecus and Shaun Sullivan (1985) hold the record with 92 hits.

Two Hokies reach career record mark

Andrew Rash hit a home run in his final collegiate game and
finished his career with 42, the sixth-most in a career at Tech.

In the victory over Connecticut on June 2, two Tech players who first stepped foot on campus in 2008 moved into the top five in one career category at the school.

Clark Labitan threw the final 3.1 innings in the 3-1 victory to earn his 11th save of the season and the 14th of his career. Labitan passed Orvin Kiser for the fifth spot on the school’s all-time saves list, as Kiser saved 13 in his career at Tech (1976).

Andrew Rash hit an RBI double in the victory, giving him 56 doubles in his career. That mark tied him with Sean O’Brien (2004-08) for the fifth-most in a single season at the school. Rash also homered twice in the tournament, pushing his career total to 42, just one shy of the top five at the school. Mike Conte (1986-89) was the last man to hit at least 40 homers in a career at the school before Rash.