Howard University center fielder Gary Hayles, figuring things could have been different if the Bison were playing at home or had a rested pitching staff, watched helplessly as the Virginia Tech base runners almost perpetually rounded the bases.
"My goodness," he recalled of the Bison's season-ending 30-0 loss Sunday to the Hokies. "Someone has to take a beating like that. But I wish it wasn't us."
Howard was an unlikely recipient of such a thrashing, having taken a 25-18-1 record into the game. In fact, if the Bison had won three of their last four games, they would have set a school record (28) for victories. The day before, they lost two games to the Hokies by a total of three runs.
Sunday surely wasn't Howard's day. Virginia Tech set school records for home runs (10) and total bases (65), scored 10 runs in the first inning off Howard's best pitcher, David White (9-4), and led, 20-0, after three innings.
"I was discouraged, but I said when they were 10 runs up, we could have gotten back," said Hayles, who led a high-scoring team this season with a .422 batting average and had seven homers. "But after a while, it got to where it was over. All you could see were the guys circling the bases.
"They were hitting the ball, but I figured it was because it was our last game and our pitchers were tired. We were definitely pumped, and then they scored 10 runs in the first inning."
"After the first inning, I was saying, 'Let's get this game over with,' " said Bison first baseman James Baynes. "It hurt a little bit. Near the sixth inning, we were going through the motions. I think we were a little down because we weren't going to get a NCAA playoff at-large bid.
"It was one of those days."
Baynes figured the Hokies would have perhaps hit only one home run if the game were played at Banneker, Howard's spacious field located on Georgia Avenue NW across from the school. He said: "Pop flies were home runs." Virginia Tech's dimensions are 381 feet to center, 355 in the alleys and 325 down the foul lines.
"The fence was short, plus the wind was blowing out," said Hayles. "At Banneker, the guys can hit 400-foot shots and we can catch them."
Still, Baynes said, "I'm not taking anything away from them. They were hitting the heck out of the ball."
Doug Basse did enough to carry Virginia Tech. Basse, a 6-foot, 180-pound senior, tied an NCAA Division I record with four home runs. His two homers in the first inning and 19 total bases also tied NCAA Division I records; he went six for six, scored seven runs and drove in 12.
"The day before," said Hayles, " Basse didn't do much. But Sunday I've never seen somebody hit the ball like that."
After the game, Baynes said Bison Coach Chuck Hinton didn't appear overly concerned. Hinton reminded the team they had a good season and to sign up for summer recreation leagues. Howard will lose only two players from this year's team.
"I'm pretty sure he was mad," said Baynes, "but he hides his feelings."
"A 9-7 loss would have been much better," said Hayles.