Depending on the poll you're crediting, the Virginia Cavaliers can be ranked anywhere from fifth best in the nation to first. The Boston College Eagles are not.
Virginia used a 14-6 hit advantage and a three-run fourth inning to jump out to a 4-0 lead on Boston College, then struck again for three runs in the eighth to bury the Birdballers, 8-1, at Davenport Field on Friday evening. The win improved Virginia to 13-3 on the year (3-1 in ACC play) while BC lost its 10th game of the year, dropping to 6-10 (0-4 in ACC play).
In what was a major pitching underdog matchup, John Gorman lasted just four innings for the Eagles, giving up a run in the second before running into trouble in his last frame. Joe McCarthy led off the second with with a double, moving to third on a one-out groundball by Nate Irving. Kenny Towns singled to short to score McCarthy, but he overran the bag in an attempt to stretch to two and was tagged out by first baseman John Hennessy to end the inning and the threat.
Gorman pitched through the third inning without a scratch but ran into major issues in the fourth. Brandon Downes led off the inning with a single to left but was retired on a groundball to short by Nick Howard. On the grounder, Blake Butera attempted to turn two, but he delivered a wild throw to first allowing Howard to reach base and move up to second. Irving then singled to score Howard from second, making the game 2-0.
With one on and one out, Irving scored from first on a double off the wall in left by Towns, and Towns scored himself on a shallow bloop single by John La Prise. Brandon Cogswell flew out to end the inning, but the damage had been done. Three runs on four hits by Virginia with one Boston College error left the game 4-0, out of reach against superb starter Nathan Kirby.
Kirby never really faced a threat in his 6.1 innings thrown, although BC did have a chance to plate a run in the top of the fifth. Joe Cronin and Tom Bourdon both singled to put runners on first and second, but with one out Logan Hoggarth struck out swinging and Nick Sciortino grounded to second.
Down 5-0 entering the eighth, the Eagles tried to rally but failed when they loaded the bags with nobody out. Facing reliever Austin Young, Tyler Hinchcliffe led off the inning with a pinch hit single. Sciortino was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second, and Gabriel Hernandez singled to right to load things up before the Hoos recorded an out.
That forced a move to the bullpen for Whit Mayberry, who promptly struck out both Butera and Chris Shaw to put two outs right up on the board. That made it significantly easier to face John Hennessy, who popped up to the infield to end the rally attempt.
All that remained was the knockout blow, and Virginia dealt it in the seventh. Mike Strem started the inning for BC on the hill, but he gave up a run on three hits before recording an out. Irving hit an infield single to lead things off and scored when Towns doubled to left. Towns advanced a bag when La Prise doubled to left center, and with one out, Daniel Pinero plated both runners with a single to center. Strem got an out before being relieved, but by then, it was 8-0.
BC got a garbage run in the top of the ninth to avoid the shutout.
On the hill for BC, Gorman absorbed the loss to fall to 2-3 on the year. He threw four innings, gave up four runs, all earned, and allowed eight hits. He avoided walking a batter and struck out two. Mike King went three innings in relief and shut down the Cavaliers, allowing just a run on two hits. He did, however, walk three while only striking out two. Strem was tagged for three runs on four hits in just two-thirds of an inning, giving way to Justin Dunn for the final out of the BC day.
As for Virginia, Kirby went 6.1 innings of shutout baseball while allowing four hits, striking out four and walking one. Young lasted just two-thirds of an inning before running into trouble in the eighth, with Mayberry throwing one full frame. Brett Lyle and Alec Bettinger combined for the ninth.
At the dish, three Hoos put together three-hit days. Nate Irving went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, and Kenny Towns went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and a solid three RBI. La Prise also had three hits as part of a 3-for-4 day with a run scored and an RBI. The best part? Those were the the 7-8-9 hitters in the Virginia lineup.
For BC, the Eagles only mustered six hits but left 10 men on base, continuing the trend of leaving too many runs on the board. Cronin had two hits for the only Birdballer with more than one hit, and Hinchcliffe went 1-for-1 off the bench. Shaw and Hennessy, the 3-4 hitters in the BC lineup, went a combined 0-for-8.
The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday to finish out the three-game series. The second game was originally scheduled for Sunday but was moved in anticipation of inclement weather. Andrew Chin and Jeff Burke get the calls for BC while Virginia counters with Josh Sborz and Brandon Waddell.