After dropping the second game of the weekend series in a heartbreaker, a not-so-distant part of history repeated itself on Saturday.
Boston College pitchers yet again failed to hold a lead, and the Eagles (13-13, 4-11 Atlantic Coast) fell 4-3 in their series finale at Virginia Tech (15-9, 11-7). This loss marks BC’s 11th in its last 15 games after starting the season at 9-2 and earning a spot in college baseball’s top-25 rankings for a couple of weeks.
Other than giving up a three-run sixth inning, BC right-hander Alex Stiegler had a smooth start in his second start of the season. Typically confined to a relief role, the veteran and Yale transfer reached his season-high of 6.1 innings, including five scoreless frames. It was a significant improvement compared to his first start in the week prior, in which he gave up eight hits and five runs over four innings in a loss to Clemson.
The Eagles jumped on Virginia Tech starting lefty Shane Connolly early, with Brian Dempsey and Sal Frelick leading off with a pair of singles. After going 0-for-9 in the first two games of the series, Frelick bounced back for a four-hit day in the finale, going 4-for-5 with a double, a run, and a stolen base.
Luke Gold then drove Dempsey home with a double to left field to put BC on the scoreboard first.
In the second, TJ Rumfield led off for the Hokies with a double. Virginia Tech brought the pressure on Stiegler, loading the bases with two outs after two more reached base with a walk and an infield single. Stiegler escaped the jam with a fly out from Lucas Donlon.
Gold added to his production in the third inning with an RBI single to bring Frelick in and extend BC’s lead to 2-0. After advancing to second on Jack Cunningham’s ground ball, Gold scored from an RBI single by Vince Cimini to cushion the advantage at 3-0.
After surrendering a double to Frelick—his third hit off Connolly—and a walk to Cody Morissette in the fifth, Connolly was pulled after giving up three runs on eight hits, one walk, and four strikeouts. Jaison Heard entered the game for relief and cooled Gold’s bat, forcing him to ground out into a double play to avoid damage.
Stiegler seemed to reach his max in the sixth inning, and he ran into trouble quickly, relinquishing BC’s lead in three at-bats. He hit Tanner Schobel—the first Hokie he faced in the inning. Next, Gavin Cross muscled a ball to left-center field on a 1-2 count to put it over the fence and cut Virginia Tech’s deficit to one. The score didn’t hold for long, though, after Rumfield drove the very first pitch he saw to the same exact spot for back-to-back homers, evening the game at three.
Joey Vetrano relieved a worn-out Stiegler with one out. Stiegler allowed three runs on seven hits, three strikeouts, and two walks.
Vetrano gave up singles to the first three batters he faced to immediately load the bases. After a mound visit from BC head coach Mike Gambino, however, he refocused and forced Rumfield to ground out into a double play and ended the inning unscathed.
The Eagles’ stroke of luck did not continue into the eighth, though, after a leadoff four-pitch walk and stolen base by Kevin Madden put the Hokies in prime position to pull ahead. He then advanced to third on a wild pitch with one out. A ground ball from Tanner Thomas that had just enough height on its bounce scored Madden as he beat the throw home to give Virginia Tech a 4-3 advantage and its first lead of the game. Madden recorded the walk-off hit for his team in Friday’s game as well.
Dante Baldelli led off the ninth for BC with a walk, and then Frelick poked a single for his fourth hit of the game to give the team some life. Matthew Siverling was relieved by Graham Firoved, who got Gold to pop into foul territory, securing the victory for Virginia Tech. Siverling earned the win for the Hokies, but the credit for the bulk of the relief goes to Heard, who pitched three brilliant innings during the comeback in which he gave up no hits or runs.
Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics