BLACKSBURG, Va. – Justin Wright allowed just one run over 6.1 innings on the mound, and designated hitter Matt Blow tied a career-high with three RBIs, as No. 18 Virginia Tech opened an important three-game Atlantic Coast Conference baseball series against Boston College with a 9-4 victory at English Field on Friday.
The win improved the Hokies to 30-14 on the season and 12-10 in ACC play, which equaled their ACC win total from last year with eight conference games still to play. The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak for BC, which fell to 24-18 overall and 12-10 in league play.
Wright picked up his fifth win of the season against three losses. The junior lefty allowed just three hits over his first six innings of work. Overall, he struck out nine batters and did not issue a walk, though he hit four batters. Boston College starter Mike Dennhardt (3-6) took the loss.
A pair of singles, followed by a sacrifice fly off the bat of right fielder Austin Wates, staked the Hokies to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Tech left fielder Buddy Sosnoskie singled with one out and moved to third on catcher Steve Domecus’ bloop-single just over the head of BC shortstop Brad Zapenas. Wates then drove a ball to center field, bringing Sosnoskie home.
The Eagles evened the count in the third when catcher Garret Smith singled, stole second and came around to score on a two-out double by second baseman Matt Hamlet. Smith’s single was the first hit off of Wright, who struck out five of the first 10 batters he faced.
After Tech put runners on second and third with no outs in the third and failed to score, Wright pitched himself into, and out of, a similar jam in the top of the fourth. After hitting a batter with one out, the Hokie southpaw fielded an infield hit off the bat of BC third baseman Anthony Melchionda and threw wildly to first. The error put both runners in scoring position, where Wright promptly stranded them with back-to-back strikeouts.
The Hokies regained the lead in the bottom of the inning. First baseman Ronnie Shaban led off with a single, stole second and took third on a balk. He scored ahead of Blow’s third home run of the season to straightaway center field.
A BC error opened the door for two more Tech runs in the sixth. Shaban and shortstop Tim Smalling both reached on singles during the frame and scored on sac flies by Blow and freshman third baseman Brent Zimmerman, respectively.
The Eagles loaded the bases against Wright with one out in the seventh before reliever Sean McDermott came on to get Hamlet to line into an inning-ending double play. McDermott remained in the game and struck out the side in the eighth before turning over the ninth inning to closer Ben Rowen, who was touched for a three-run pinch-hit home run by Mike Sudol, though just two of the runs were earned.
Ryan capped a three-hit night for Tech with his second double of the game in the eighth inning, scoring Zimmerman, who was hit by a pitch. The Hokies went on to score four runs in the inning, with Wates driving in two with a triple and Shaban plating one with his third hit of the night. It was Wates’ fourth triple of the season and the 13th of his career, as he moved into sole possession of third place on Tech’s all-time list.
Wates and Blow both finished with three-RBI games, as the Hokies finished with 12 hits. Zimmerman made his first career start and reached base three times to go with his sac fly.
The two teams are scheduled to start game two of the series at 2 on Saturday afternoon.
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