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Birdball Steps Up on the Big Stage, Taking Series Win at Virginia Tech

With a primetime Monday night game on ESPNU, Boston College Baseball took advantage of the rare opportunity to play in front of a national audience with a big series win at Virginia Tech. After being swept in each of their last four trips to Blacksburg, the Eagles channeled midweek momentum to steal games from their rivals on both Saturday and Monday.

Dan Metzdorf got the start for BC in the first game of the series Saturday night and put together a masterful encore to his 8.1-innings of scoreless ball that came last weekend versus Duke. For the second start in a row, the southpaw didn’t let up a single run in the face of pressure, with clogged basepaths all evening long. Metzdorf was stone cold, despite little run support, as he struck out eight Hokies and left 10 stranded over 7.2 innings pitched.

The Eagles offensive drought continued in game one of the series as they only mustered two runs on nine hits. But, BC was first to the scoreboard in the third inning as Jake Alu hammered a double down the right field line before finding his way home on a Cody Morissette single to center. Morissette would later be rewarded in the sixth for his earlier RBI when he hustled home after some great baserunning on a fielder’s choice.

Now with a 2-0 lead, BC turned to Matt Gill in the bottom of the ninth to close out the game. A string of Hokie hits scored a runner and quickly cut the BC lead in half with only one out. However, head coach Mike Gambino maintained his faith in Gill and kept him in to finish the game. The Eagles gunned down a runner at home to preserve the lead, but the batter reached first to load the bases. With one out standing between Boston College and a series-opening win, Gill kept his cool and forced a routine ground ball to second, sealing the 2-1 victory.

Repeating a performance like Metzdorf’s is a tough task for any pitcher, but Mason Pelio failed to even match generous expectations in game two of the series. Pelio struggled in his worst outing of the season with 8 earned runs over 4.2 innings and quickly dug BC into a massive hole.

Meanwhile, the Eagles’ bats finally came to life and miraculously erased an 8-1 deficit with an explosive sixth inning, perhaps their finest of the season. Alu led off with a walk before Morissette bashed a double to put both of them in scoring position. Brian Dempsey registered BC’s first out with a sharp grounder to third but scored Alu, cracking open the floodgates in the process. 

Another fielder’s choice a few batters later on a Joe Suozzi at-bat would bring in two more to make it 8-4, and from thereon it felt like each coming batter was playing a game of “hot potato” over who would be the one to douse the fire. The Eagles knocked in four two-out runs thanks to a Baldelli walk and a pair of singles from Alu and Morissette to tie the game up at eight.

However, the hysteria from the comeback would die out quickly as Virginia Tech struck back with a vengeance against BC’s bullpen. The Eagles rotated between six different pitchers during the rest of the game as the Hokies pounded in seven additional runs to retake the lead. BC racked up a fair share of hits to put runners in scoring position, but failed to reclaim their earlier magic and ultimately fell 15-8.

With the series tied at one apiece, BC wasted no part of the opportunity to showcase themselves on a national stage when game three played on ESPNU Monday night. Joe Mancini and Thomas Lane easily handled the bulk of the load on the mound with a combined four hits and one run surrendered in 6.2 innings pitched.

The Eagles’ bats simultaneously offered them some generous run support in the meantime with a string of one-run innings. Suozzi punched in Gian Martellini with a single up the middle in the 2nd, and then the electric leadoff duo struck once again in the following inning when a Morissette double brought home Alu.

In his next plate appearance, Suozzi decided to flex his muscles for the fans watching on TV by blasting the first pitch of the fourth inning over the left field fence. His big night would continue in the sixth inning when he and Chris Galland scored on an error from VT’s first baseman to make it a 5-1 BC lead. 

Gill came in for a second series appearance but again failed to come out unblemished as he gave up a sole run in the eighth and worked himself into a jam in the bottom of the ninth. This time, he needed a bit of help to finish off the Hokies, and John Witkowski alleviated any ninth inning tensions to end the game 5-2.

The big series win has the Eagles now perched above .500 at 26-25 on the year and hitting their stride at the perfect time with the season coming to a close. At 10-17 in ACC play, Boston College is two games up on Virginia Tech for the final spot in the conference championship that they will look to solidify when Notre Dame comes to Chestnut Hill for the final series of the season late next week.

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