Hokies Blast Seven Home Runs, Sweep BC

Boston College baseball was one out away from winning its first ACC game in over three weeks on Sunday. The Eagles battled back from a two-run deficit against Virginia Tech to tie the game in the eighth inning. In the next frame, Donovan Casey singled, scoring Jack Cunningham.

Casey walked out to the mound, attempting to tack on his second win of the season. And it looked like he would do so. After getting ahead in the count, the junior forced Garrett Hudson to groundout. Although Joe Freiday, Jr. reached first on a single, Casey quickly responded. He jammed Rahiem Cooper into a popout, tallying the second out of the inning.

But soon after, a Jack Owens single and a Ryan Tufts double scored the tying run for VT. Casey struck out Sam Fragale to end the inning and take the Eagles into extras, but the momentum had shifted.  

Just as Casey gave BC the lead in the ninth, he’d be the one responsible for giving it back in the 10th. After hitting Mac Caples, Casey was pulled by head coach Mike Gambino. John Witkowski came in to to diffuse the situation. Instead, he conceded a single to Owens, which scored Caples, and the Hokies walked off with a 4-3 victory and sweep over the Eagles.  

Like the other two games in the series, Virginia Tech (17-13, 6-6 Atlantic Coast) jumped out to an early lead. Except this time around, the Hokies played small ball. Fragale flied out to center field in the first, allowing Owens to tag up and score from third. One inning later, VT notched another sacrifice fly. This time, Cooper was the source of production, scoring Caples.

For the next portion of the game, BC’s (8-17, 1-11) Brian Rapp and Hokies’ Kit Scheetz traded scoreless frames. Finally, scoring resumed in the fourth. To lead off the inning, Michael Strem doubled down the line. Shortly after, Mitch Bigras drew a walk. With two men on, Jake Alu doubled—the Eagles’ second extra-base hit of the inning—sending Strem home.

Rapp continued to make up for his early woes, striking out five in his next four innings of work. Still, the junior lacked run support. Eventually, the Eagles provided some offense, but it came in the most unconventional of ways.

Gian Martellini singled to start off the eighth inning. And when Bigras grounded out to first, the sophomore scampered into scoring position. Dominic Hardaway was called to pinch run for Martellini, and it would pay off.

Scheetz’s fifth-inning replacement, Packy Naughton, walked Alu, who then advanced to second on an interference call. When facing his next batter, Naughton misfired, and the ball got by Freiday Jr., giving Hardaway enough time to make it to home plate.

With the game tied at two in the ninth, Casey hit a single, and Cunningham rounded third for the potential game-winning run. But Casey still had to close it out on the mound. And he would have done so if it wasn’t for the top of VT’s lineup. A Tufts double forced extras, and eventually an Owens single in the 10th sealed the deal for the Hokies.

Saturday’s game didn’t take 10 innings. In fact, it was all but decided after six.

Nick Anderson shut down BC in the first inning. Dan Metzdorf couldn’t have said the same. Right off the bat, Metzdorf walked Owens. Moments later, he gave up a double to Tufts. Then, Tom Stoffel flied out to center, scoring Owens and advancing Tufts to third. To make matters worse for the Eagles, the Hokies’ slugger would take advantage of an infield throwing error and score on the following play.

Cooper hit a solo shot, adding to VT’s total, before BC got its offense going in the third. Cunningham ignited the surge with a single to left field. Brian Dempsey hit a grounder, but after a sequence of throwing errors, Dempsey and Cunningham moved to second and third base, respectively. The Hokies continued to shoot themselves in the foot. Anderson threw a wild pitch and Cunningham scored. Johnny Adams proceeded to pick up an RBI, driving home Dempsey, despite grounding out.

Both sides tacked on a run in the following innings. But the complexion of the game changed in the fifth. Stoffel doubled down the right-field line. And immediately after that, Fragale knocked one out—VT’s second homer of the day, extending the Hokie’s lead to three.

BC responded with two runs of its own. Casey singled off of Andrew McDonald, scoring Dante Baldelli. Next, Adams bunted, giving Cunningham just enough time to score from third, making it 6-5. But the Eagles’ small ball was no match for VT’s power. The home run barrage only continued.

Witkoswki took the rubber to start the sixth, but it was more of the same for VT. Freiday Jr. took Witkowski’s first pitch to left-center. A pair of Hokies singles crowded the bases, and Stoffel brought them all home with a bomb to center. Suddenly, what once was a one-run lead, was a five-run advantage.

Stoffel backed up his three-RBI inning on the mound. He punched out two batters in two innings of pitching, limiting the Eagles to just two hits. BC couldn’t muster any runs until the final frame. Martellini put on his best Stoffel impression, homering to center, but the solo shot was all the Eagles would get, as BC fell 10-6.

Similar to Saturday, VT relied on its power to best the Eagles in the series opener. J.D. Mundy kicked off the scoring with a home run to center in the second inning.

But the Eagles didn’t give in that early. Anthony Maselli singled through the right side in the third inning. Casey’s patience at the plate forced a full count and consequential walk. Adams capitalized on the situation, doubling to left field and scoring Maselli. And, to take the lead, Strem hit a groundball to second, allowing Casey to score BC’s second run of the game.

Before long, VT fired back. An Owens single and a Fragale sacrifice fly scored two runs, and the Hokies retook the lead. But in the fourth, Martellini doubled to right field, Casey scored, and the Eagles tied the game for the second time of the day. It would also be the last time.

The Hokies rattled off nine-consecutive runs in the next two frames—six of which were batted in by different players. Down 12-3 in the seventh, BC was desperate for any kind of offense. While it didn’t really snap back into a rhythm, the Eagles did tally a run, following a string of four walks. They would have put up more if Dempsey didn’t fly out. Three men were stranded on base.

The last of VT’s scoring came in the eighth. Three of the Hokies’ four runs in the inning came off a Fragale dinger. For Fragale, it was his second homer and fourth, fifth, and sixth RBIs of the game. The junior’s performance foreshadowed what was to come in the final two games of the series.

BC’s current start in the ACC is its worst since the 2014 season. Inconsistencies all around have plagued the Eagles to this point. If the team wants to flip the script, its offense is going to have to pick up its play. Pitching can only do so much, especially in this conference.

Featured Image by Michael Sullivan / Heights Editor

April 3, 2017