Wake Forest's offense, while clutch in the first game, had been relatively quiet through the first 14-plus innings of their season series with the Boston College Eagles.
That all changed in the bottom of the sixth of the second of their three game series.
The Deacs crushed the Eagles bullpen for three runs in the sixth, then tacked on three more in the seventh with a three-run homer by Will Craig, to come back from a 4-2 deficit to win, 9-4, on Saturday afternoon. The win clinched the season series while keeping BC on the outside looking in of the ACC Tournament picture.
BC took a 3-0 lead off the bat of Michael Strem, who launched his second homer of the season over the right field fence with two men on in the top of the fourth inning. The inning began with a walk by Jake Palomaki, who promptly stole second. With a man on and nobody out, Blake Butera worked a full count before walking himself, and Strem drilled a 1-2 pitch over the wall to give the Eagles a commanding lead.
Wake got one back in the bottom half of the inning off the bat of Justin Yurchak. Joey Rodriguez led off the inning with with a single, then stole second two batters later. He moved up a bag when Craig grounded out for the inning's second out, but starting pitcher Mike King couldn't retire the side, surrendering a single to left center off the bat of Yurchak. Rodriguez scored, cutting the Eagles' lead to 3-1.
The Deacs got another one in the fifth when Gavin Sheets walked and worked his way over to third. Jonathan Pryor hit a sacrifice fly deep enough to score the run, making it a 3-2 game, but Palomaki responded in the very next inning, homering to lead off the BC sixth, making it a 4-2 game.
King, who had been solid through the first five innings, began the sixth but promptly surrendered a homer of his own to Nate Mondou on the first pitch he delivered, making it a 4-3 game. That prompted BC to go to their bullpen for Geoffrey Murphy, who walked Will Craig and induced a double play off the bat of Yurchak. Murphy couldn't get out of the inning, though, falling behind Stuart Fairchild, then grooving a 3-1 pitch to a sweet spot. The batter got all of it, homering to right field to tie the game at 4-4.
Once again, Mike Gambino went to his bullpen, bringing in NIck Poore to face Gavin Sheets. But Poore walked Sheets and gave up a single to Nick Bisplinghoff to put runners at the corners with two out. Drew Freedman singled off new pitcher John Nicklas up the middle to score Sheets, giving Wake Forest the go-ahead run and a 5-4 lead.
BC went down nary a whisper in the seventh despite a double to center by Logan Hoggarth, setting up the breakaway inning for Wake Forest after the stretch. Nicklas started the inning on the bump, walking the leadoff hitter Rodriguez, then moving him up to second with a wild pitch. Mondou reached via an error to put two on, and Will Craig, the ACC's best hitter, delivered a souvenir to left center field on the second pitch he saw, blowing the game open with a three run homer. Up 8-4, Gambino brought in Tyler Hinchcliffe, who was able to get out of the inning by inducing a double play by Bisplinghoff after both Fairchild and Sheets reached base.
Wake Forest got another insurance run in the eighth on an RBI single by Mondou, and the Eagles went down in order in the ninth to end the game.
BC ended up using six pitchers, including five over the last four innings. King went five innings in a quality start, allowing three runs off six hits while striking out two and walking one. Murphy was credited with 0.2 innings and one run allowed, while Poore (0-3) shouldered the loss since he only faced two batters, one of which ended up being the game-winning run. He finished without an out recorded, charged with one run on one hit.
Nicklas lasted 0.1 innings, charged with three runs, one of which was unearned, on two hits. Tyler Hinchcliffe and Kyle Dunster each pitched an inning. Nicklas' runs allowed were the first earned since the first game of the season.
Connor Johnstone started for Wake Forest and also threw five innings, giving up four runs on four hits while walking two and only striking out one. He wound up with a no decision as reliever Donnie Sellers (3-1) picked up the win with two shutout innings. John McCarren pitched the final two innings, surrendering only two hits, for Wake Forest.
Offensively, the Eagles had a decent day, registering seven hits and only leaving four men on base. Strem went 2-for-4 with three RBI, and Palomaki went 1-for-2 with a couple of runs scored and one RBI on his solo blast. Chris Shaw went 2-for-3 and Logan Hoggarth registered a couple of hits as well.
For Wake Forest, the middle of the order killed BC pitching with six RBI, including three by Craig, whose lone hit was the three-run homer, and two by Mondou, who went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI. Freedman had a three-hit day out of the nine hole for the Deacons.
The two teams combined for five homers in total during Saturday's game. The win was the ninth straight at home for Wake Forest against BC and their seventh in the last eight games against the Eagles.
BC will try to come away with at least a victory in this series in the all-important third game, as John Gorman gets the call on the hill. The third game is slated for a 1 PM start from Winston-Salem.