Sports, Spring, Baseball

Wang and Vetrano Lead Eagles to ACC Tournament Opening Win Over Virginia Tech

In March, he hit a game-tying home run en route to a walk-off win over NC State. In April, he smashed a walk-off homer against Harvard to capture the Beanpot trophy. In May, he knocked a go-ahead two-run home run to clinch a stunning comeback victory over Villanova and a ACC Tournament berth. 

Though he may lack Joe Vetrano’s pop and the MLB attention that Travis Honeyman has received, third baseman Nick Wang has delivered in the clutch and time again this season for Boston College baseball. 

Tuesday’s 2023 ACC Tournament opener in Durham, N.C. was no different, as Wang’s five timely RBIs drove No. 6-seed BC (35–17, 16–14 Atlantic Coast) past No. 10-seed Virginia Tech (30–22, 12–17) by a final score of 11–7. 

Trouble, however, found BC starting pitcher Eric Schroeder early.

After the sophomore right-hander gave up a walk and a single to start the game in an early first-and-third jam, Virginia Tech’s Jack Hurley blasted a ball to right field. Though the ball ultimately reached right-fielder Cohl Mercado’s glove, Hurley’s drive was enough to score the Hokies’ first run of the game via a sacrifice fly and establish an early 1–0 lead in the top of the first inning. 

Schroeder settled in quickly after his rocky first inning. But after retiring the first batter he faced in the third inning—the sixth out of the last seven at-bats—Gambino elected to pull him in favor of Ian Murphy, given the abundance of available bullpen arms

Murphy immediately walked the first batter he faced and then surrendered a two-run homer to push Virginia Tech ahead 3–0. And the Hokies threatened to break the game open in the following at bats after Murphy let up a single in the next at bat.

But BC’s ACC-leading defense stepped up, flashing some leather when its pitching staff needed it most. 

Brody Donay sent a ball to deep center-field, but Barry Walsh saved Matthew Nunan—who came in to replace Murphy—from additional runs with a SportsCenter-worthy warning-track grab, providing the Eagles with a much needed jolt of momentum. 

And after laying dormant for the previous two innings, BC’s bats capitalized on Walsh’s spark in the bottom of the third inning. 

Despite their first two batters grounding out, the Eagles ripped a furious two-out rally to take a 4–3 lead, headlined by a pair of bases-clearing doubles from Joe Vetrano and Nick Wang. 

That one-run lead, however, vanished in an instant after a three-run Virginia Tech response in the top of the fourth inning. Nunan put on the first two Hokies he faced on base, and two at-bats later, Clay Grady cashed in with a two-run single.

Gambino turned to Henry Leake amid the jam. Leake, however, struggled with command, issuing a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and a wild pitch to add another Virginia Tech tally to the scoreboard and make the score 6–4. 

Walsh came through again for the Eagles in the bottom of the sixth inning by crushing a solo homer to cut the Hokies’ lead in half. Peter Burns and Patrick Roche then followed up with a single and a double, respectively, setting up Vetrano with runners on second and third. Virginia Tech, though, wanted nothing to do with the All-ACC Third-Team slugger and intentionally walked him, sending Wang to the plate with the bases loaded after Vince Cimini lined out.

Wang came through when it mattered most and roped a bases-clearing double to put BC ahead 8–6. 

And despite the intentional walk, the Hokies couldn’t escape Vetrano’s bat for much longer. 

Though Virginia Tech picked up another run in the top of the seventh after Sam McNulty lost a pop-up in the sun, the Hokies loaded the bases for Vetrano in the bottom of the inning. Vetrano, coming off a week in which he hit .462 and crushed three homers, notched a two-run single to give the Eagles a bit of much-needed breathing room. 

BC added another run in the eighth inning off a Mercado double. Andrew Roman, who totaled three innings of one-run relief, recorded a quick 1-2-3 inning in the ninth to shut the door on the Hokies. 

May 24, 2023