Boston College Outlasts Virginia Tech
The ACC Tournament in Durham kicked off with a back-and-forth thriller between Boston College and Virginia Tech. BC relied on plenty of two-out magic as the Eagles prevailed over the Hokies by a score of 11-7. Joe Vetrano and Nick Wang went a combined 4-6 with 3 doubles, 4 walks, and 9 RBIs. Boston College scored nine of their eleven runs with 2 outs.
With the loss, Virginia Tech’s hopes of an NCAA Tournament appearance are all but over, as they cannot advance out of this pool with a 1-1 record based on their seeding. The Hokies got out to a 3-0 lead in the 3rd inning thanks to a Jack Hurley sacrifice fly in the 1st inning and a two-run blast by Carson Jones in the 3rd. After giving up the lead in the 4th, they’d re-take the lead immediately and hold it until the 6th inning.
Boston College loaded the bases in each of the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings in large part thanks to the 11 walks given out by Hokie pitching. But the Eagles couldn’t really take advantage until the 7th, when Nick Wang hit a bases cleared double to make it 8-6 Boston College. Tech would get one run back, but no more as closer Andrew Roman shut the door over the final three innings to clinch the win.
Beyond Wang and Vetrano, Barry Walsh was a revelation in the outfield as he made three outstanding plays to rob Virginia Tech of several extra base hits. “Walsh, he’s very good defensively, I don’t even know how many runs he took off the board,” Virginia Tech Head Coach John Szfec said following the game. Walsh would also add a solo home run in the 6th inning for his only offensive contribution of the day.
Boston College Coach Mike Gambino was quick to praise the focus the team has on their own beliefs. “The year we go to Omaha, we’ll be picked last in our league,” he said. “And the year after we go Omaha, we’ll be picked last in the league. It’s fine. It doesn’t bother us what other people around the country say, we care about us.”
Virginia Tech plays Clemson in their final ACC game on Wednesday at 7 PM while Boston College will play the Tigers on Friday morning at 11 AM for the right to represent Pool C in the semifinals.
North Carolina Beats Georgia Tech
Clutch two out hitting remained the theme of the day as UNC beat Georgia Tech 11-5 in the second game of the ACC Tournament on Tuesday. Six of the Tar Heels first seven runs came with two outs. In the absence of Vance Honeycutt, star outfielder Mac Horvath reached base safely 4 times and hit a mammoth home run to left field in the 8th inning.
Max Carlson has been a bit of Jekyll and Hyde all season and today the Tar Heels got Dr. Jekyll as he pitched 4 innings and only gave up 1 earned run after a rough outing against Clemson last Thursday. At one point, he struck out 4 straight Georgia Tech hitters. “I though Carly was the story of the game early,” said Coach Scott Forbes. “He was good right out the gate.”
The middle of the UNC order did most of the damage, scoring four runs and driving in five. While Mac Horvath and Tomas Frick will get the headlines with their performances, it was Patrick Alvarez, playing left field, who was lauded after the game following his 3-5, 3 RBI performance. “I think he’s [Alvarez} a big key to our success in making a run in this tournament,” Horvath replied when asked about Alvarez.
“He’s a stud. He plays hard.” said Frick. “Patty Knuckles, that his nickname,” Coach Forbes added. “He knuckles.” Alvarez recently returned from a broken hamate injury.
UNC closer Matt Poston was solid in relief, going 2.1 innings to shut down the Yellow Jackets in the late innings. Jake DeLeo led the way for Georgia Tech, going 2-5 with 3 RBIs.
Much like Virginia Tech earlier in the day, this loss essentially means that Georgia Tech’s postseason hopes are finished. The Yellow Jackets will take on #2 seed UVA tomorrow at 3 PM. UNC, on the other hand, will go for the Pool B win when they face Virginia on Thursday at 3 PM.
NC State Upsets Duke
It wasn’t pretty, but #9 seed NC State upset #5 seed Duke in extra innings on Tuesday night, 8-7. The Wolfpack’s phenomenal freshman Cannon Peebles was the offensive hero as they made progress towards getting back to the NCAA Tournament.
NC State jumped out to an early lead and led seed Duke, 7-1 after just 3 innings. Wolfpack third baseman LuJames Groover III got the scoring started quick with a two-run blast to left field just two batters into the game. NC State would score two runs in each of the first two innings before scoring three more in the 3rd inning. They scored those seven runs off three different Duke pitchers.
Duke battled back in the form of freshman outfielder Tyler Albright, who drove in 3 runs in two different at bats to get the Blue Devils back within three runs at 7-4. After the 3rd inning, Duke pitching retired 20 of the next 21 hitters to keep them in the game. NC State didn’t have a hit in that span. Fran Oschell III went 4 scoreless innings as closer James Tallon was unavailable following a heavy workload last weekend.
With the score 7-5 in the bottom 8th inning, Duke had the bases loaded with two outs. The Wolfpack’s stellar freshman Dominic Fritton caught Andrew Fischer looking in a full count to keep the NC State lead intact heading into the 9th inning. Unfortunately for NC State and Dominic Fritton, they couldn’t close the game out in the 9th. MJ Metz hit a 2-run blast to knot the game at 7-7.
ACC Player of the Week Cannon Peebles swung on a 3-0 count with runners on the corners to drive in the winning score in the Top of the 11th. “He’s had so many clutch hits this year,” Coach Elliot Avent said. Peebles credited his self-confidence in maintaining coolness in a high-pressure situation. “The confidence comes from the work that I put in and the preparation that I have.” In response to the 3-0 swing, he said: “I just got what I wanted and tried to put a good swing on it.”
Normal Friday night starter Logan Whitaker made his first relief appearance of the year and pitched 2 scoreless innings to win the game and potentially put NC State back into the NCAA Tournament.
The Wolfpack will go for the Pool D victory against #4 Miami on Thursday at 7 PM, while the Blue Devils will finish their ACC Tournament run against the Hurricanes on Friday at 3 PM.