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Baseball Report Week 5: Hokie History in Louisville

By Sam Jessee | March 20
BB W5 Cover
via @HokiesBaseball on X (

Carson DeMartini.

Not much else to say. Since Saturday's game against Notre Dame, he's hit 9 home runs with 14 RBI and 14 runs. His plate discipline has improved immensely since last season, and he's been excellent defensively at third base. DeMartini was 3rd team Pre-season All-American. He's 1st team now and there's no debate.

His performance helped the Hokies win their first road series in Louisville since 1995 when the two schools competed in the Metro Conference.

The other guys haven't been too shabby either. In the weekend series at Louisville and the midweek game vs East Tennessee State, the Hokies hit an impressive .385 and averaged 10 runs per game. On the mound, the Hokies got their best performances of the season from do-it-all bullpen arm, Brady Kirtner, and Sunday starter, Griffin Stieg.


Series Win @ Louisville (2-1)

Game 1


For the first time this season, Brett Renfrow looked like a freshman. It was far from a bad performance, however. Renfrow threw 3.2 innings and only allowed 2 earned runs, but a second inning error scored a third for Louisville to take an early 3-0 lead. Command was Renfrow's biggest issue. The usual sharp shooter allowed 4 walks, his season high, and only had 2 strikeouts.

David Shoemaker, Grant Manning, and Carson Ohl came in in relief and performed fine, but Louisville kept putting the ball in play and another error in the sixth inning stretched Louisville's lead further.

At the plate, the Hokies hit the ball hard, but couldn't get anything to fall on grass. They stuck with it, scoring 3 in the 9th to make a comeback, but it was too much with not enough outs left. It's only the fourth loss of the season for the Hokies, but in two of those (the other being Stony Brook) the Hokies made significant comeback attempts in the 9th. It's a sign of good things to come.


Game 2


After the Hokies got up early 5-0 in the 4th by way of 2 homers from DeMartini and a Christian Martin RBI single, Louisville put together a 4-run 4th to make it a game. That's when Brady Kirtner came in to settle things down.

Kirtner, a veteran arm from Christiansburg, has the ability to go 4+ innings out of the pen. Which is great, because the Hokies needed 5 innings from him on Saturday. It was his best outing of the year, and to only allow 3 runs against a hot hitting Louisville lineup was a massive success.

The Hokies used 3 homers and 4 doubles to light up a Cardinals bullpen that's had issues this year. The depth of this lineup is something to behold, and DeMartini is swinging the bat better than anyone in the nation. But it's not just DeMartini's bat pushing the Hokies into elite status. Leadoff hitter 2B Christian Martin has been a consistent Robin to DeMartini's Batman, and LF Chris Cannizzaro has quietly continued his hot start to the season. Combine that top third of the lineup with power hitters like RF Eddie Michelleti, Jr. and the catcher trio of Gehrig Ebel, Henry Cooke, and David McCann and you have one of the best offenses in the nation.


Game 3


Louisville was not picked to be in the top half of the ACC, and is going to struggle to be a bubble team for the NCAA Regionals. But this is still the 3rd winningest program in the country over the last 15 seasons, and even in rebuilding years the Cardinals boast a ton of talent with a significant home field advantage. The Cardinals were 13-5 heading into the series, and starting to play their best baseball. The Cardinals may struggle to reach .500 in ACC play, but they'll be a very tough weekend for any team and should start to dominate their midweek matchups with superior offense.

The manner of Sunday's win also shows the growth of the Hokies program not just over the past seven seasons under John Szefc, but since the recent success of the past few years. The Hokies won the Sunday rubber match because their startin pitcher, Griffin Stieg, was an ace.

Stieg pitched 7.2 innings allowing just 5 hits and 1 run. He struck out 6 Cardinals and offered up no walks. It was the best start a Hokie has had this season, and truthfully one of the better starts in recent years in ACC play.

The Hokies defense played up to its potential behind Stieg, keeping a clean sheet. Fielding has continued to be a bit of a sore spot for the Hokies, one of few. If they can limit errors in critical spots, the pitching numbers will start to look much better.

You may have noticed that I skipped over DeMartini's 2 homer performance in Saturday's game. That's because we're going to focus on his 3 homer game in Sunday's contest. The film says it all:

Midweek Win vs ETSU


The Hokies are very familiar with the Buccaneers from ETSU. The two schools aren't that far apart, and play twice almost every season. ETSU was 14-5 heading into the game in Blacksburg and coming off a series win vs Villanova. That wasn't much worry for the Hokies.

ETSU scored enough early to keep things interesting, but homers by Martin and Ebel helped the Hokies pull away. The game ended in a run-rule decision in the 7th inning.

The Week Ahead

The Hokies will travel north for a weekend series against Boston College. The Eagles are 11-8 (2-4 ACC) on the year coming off a weekend series win at Pittsburgh. It will be another great opportunity for the Hokies to grab another ACC series win on the road.

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I'm a born and raised Hokie. My first game in Lane Stadium was in September of 1997 when Tech stomped Big East rival Syracuse 31-3. 

I was born and raised in Richmond, VA, where I developed a passion for local cooking, scenic nature, and everything Orange and Maroon. I graduated from Tech with a degree in Finance in 2019 and received my Master's in Data Analytics in 2021. I'm a certified analytics nerd with a passion for data visualization and modeling, which fuels much of my work.

I joined the Sons team in 2020, and now act as the Website Content Manager overseeing all online content and mentoring our talented tea of writers. I also co-host the Two Deep podcast with Pete B.

I currently work in Virginia Beach, VA, as a data and financial analyst for LifeNet Health, a biotech and organ transplant non-profit.

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