Monday, February 11, 2008

By Victor Varadi and Geoff Bilau - Columnists

The All-Time Top 50 Angels Historic Moments continues and our selection for #49 happened on April 20, 2007 as Angels pitcher Joe Saunders honored Virginia Tech.

Four days after a rampage shooting at Virginia Tech University left 33 dead and several others wounded, Joe Saunders, the only Hokies alumnus in the Major Leagues, threw six scoreless innings while wearing a heavy heart and the cap of his alma mater.

Saunders was a student at Virginia Tech up until the Angels drafted him in the first round of the 2002 draft. His parents are alums and his father helped to architect the Hokies' football stadium. Saunders is engaged to a girl he met while attending college in Blacksburg. Receiving special permission from the Commissioner's office to wear the Hokies baseball cap, Saunders took the mound on an emotional Friday evening and battled his way through six shutout innings against the Seattle Mariners.

Saunders wrote "VT" on his cleats and scribbled "Virginia Tech" in the dirt on the mound.

"I think somebody upstairs was looking after me, and everybody in Blacksburg was looking after me," he said after the 8-4 victory over Seattle. "My heart was out to them."

"I was really nervous coming in — just the sheer fact of knowing what the game meant to me, to all the Hokie Nation out there in Virginia, to my family, and to this team because we needed to win," he added. "There was a lot riding on it."
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