From the sidelines
By Marty Gordon
Despite an early, game-tying home run from freshman Carson DeMartini Sunday afternoon, the No. 4 nationally-seeded Virginia Tech baseball team witnessed its incredible 2022 season come to a conclusion as the Hokies were defeated by the Oklahoma Sooners, 11-2, in Game 3 of the NCAA Blacksburg Super Regional at English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park.
Known for its iconic “Hammerin’ Hokies” style of offense, Virginia Tech (45-14) was surprisingly held to a season low of two hits.
This past season, the Hokies became known for home runs, which were followed by a player slamming a hammer onto the ground. But the hammer was missing in action during the team’s super regional against Oklahoma.
The NCAA ruled between regional weekend and super regional weekend that excessive celebrations would be punishable by a warning for the first offense and ejection of the coach and the offending student-athlete for the second offense.
The ruling was brought up in conversation with the NCAA’s sportsmanship clause and was intended to ban the use of props outside of the dugout space. A celebration of sorts would still be permissible inside the dugout area.
Many fans at this past week’s super regional held signs that read “free the hammer.”
Tech’s home run hammer was started a few seasons ago by volunteer assistant coach Tyler Hanson (and members of the coaching staff) as part of the team’s offensive approach to ‘keep hammering’ baseballs.
According to Tech sources, Hanson was the person who actually purchased the first hammer from Lowe’s. It soon became a tradition that the players would sign the hammer and the champion of the hammer would be named at the end of the season for whoever hit the most home runs.
Last year’s signed hammer was sold at auction for an estimated $1,300.