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Boston College 5, Virginia 4: Walk Off Winners, Part Deux

This time it's Michael Strem and Scott Braren wearing the heroes hats as Boston College wins their first ever series against the Virginia Cavaliers. Jesse Adams records his second victory in as many games coming out of the bullpen for BC.

Courtesy BC Athletics

When the book is written on the 2016 Boston College baseball season, the chapter about the Virginia series will probably be the longest. It's the series, after all, featuring the craziest endings, the most drama, and, literally, the longest game. But the title might be summed up in the easiest fashion:

Refuse to lose.

The Eagles rallied twice against the defending national champion Cavaliers on Sunday, coming back from down 1-0 and 4-1 to keep a long game going deep into the Chestnut Hill afternoon. With a curfew time lingering as a threat into the 13th inning, however, it was a second straight unlikely hero making sure no tie happened.

Scott Braren singled home Johnny Adams with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 13th, walking Birdball off for the second time in two days and giving them a 5-4 victory over the Wahoos at Shea Field. It gave Boston College the win, but it clinched the series for them - their first ACC victory over Virginia since joining the league in 2005.

With Mike King on the mound, Virginia remained off the board until the fifth inning. That's when Justin Novak hit a grounder to third that scored Ryan Karstetter. Karstetter himself led off the inning with a double before moving to third on a bunt single by Cameron Simmons. Novak then hit one to third that was fielded on a dive by Joe Cronin, but the run crossed when Cronin got the out at first, giving the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead.

The lead didn't last very long; BC tied it in the bottom of the fifth. After Michael Strem singled singled, BC went the small ball route, with Johnny Adams bunting him over to second and Logan Hoggarth singling him home to tie the game at 1-1.

That's all the teams could do for the rest of regulation, although the game nearly ended in the ninth in similar fashion to Saturday. Chris Balogh came off the bench to pinch hit, drawing a walk. Dominic Hardaway pinch ran and stole second, advancing to third when catcher Matt Thaiss threw the ball away - a mirror image of Saturday. With Hardaway at third, Jake Palomaki struck out on a ball in the dirt. But Thaiss threw him out at first, sending the game into extra innings.

Heading into extra innings, the game almost ended as quickly as it began. After two runners reached against John Nicklas, including an intentional walk with first base open and two out, Kevin Connor came into the game and threw one pitch - a three run bomb to lefty slugger Pavin Smith. Smith put it over the right field fence, giving Virginia a 4-1 lead.

In the 10th, facing a three run deficit, BC got two singles off of reliever Tommy Doyle to start the inning, including one by Braren who entered the game as a pinch hitter for Donovan Casey. After Nick Sciortino was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Michael Strem cleared the bags wit a double down the left field line, tying the game at 4-4. The hit came off of Tyler Shambora, who would be lifted after the blown save.

The extra frames droned on through the 11th and 12th, and the 13th began under the threat of curfew. Owing to ACC travel rules, teams normally grab a late flight out of their departing city so they can return home in time to attend class on Monday. That meant no inning could begin after 6:15 PM. With the game heading past 5:30 in Boston, it meant the 13th would serve as either the last inning or penultimate if the game would continue.

It would turn out to be unnecessary. After Johnny Adams doubled to right center, Hardaway and Cronin walked around a Jake Palomaki strikeout. That set up Braren's single to right on a 2-1 fastball to score Adams and send the Eagles running from their dugout for a second straight day.

The victory gave BC their first series win over Virginia since joining the ACC in 2005. On the hill, King went seven innings, allowing one run on seven hits, striking out six and walking three to complete a sterling starting performance on the weekend by the BC staff. Nicklas threw 2.2 innings before Kevin Connor came in, and Bobby Skogsbergh threw 2.1 innings to get BC into the 13th.

It was in the 13th where Jesse Adams, who was supplanted out of a starting role this weekend, earned his second victory of the weekend. Now 4-3 on the season, he pitched one inning, throwing nine pitches and recording a 1-2-3 frame.

For Virginia, Alec Bettinger threw five innings to start, stringing together a good performance in allowing one run on four hits with five K's and one walk. Kevin Doherty would take the team into the seventh, and Tommy Doyle took over from there, lasting until the 10th. Doyle was charged with two runs from the Strem double, and Shambora had the blown save with 0.2 innings thrown. Bennett Sousa, David Rosenberger, and Chesdin Harrington pitched down the stretch for Virginia.

Harrington (0-1) absorbed the loss, giving up one run in 1.2 innings with three K's and two walks.

At the dish, it was a mess scoresheet. Only three Eagles mustered multi-hit games, but the team itself had 11 hits. Michael Strem went 3-6 with three RBI and a run scored, and Logan Hoggarth was 2-3 with an RBI. Braren had two hits, including a run scored and an RBI despite coming off the bench late in the game.

For Virginia, Ernie Clement had three hits, with Pavin Smith's only hit being the three-run bomb in the 10th. Matt Thaiss recorded two hits and a run scored.

With the victory, Boston College improved to 16-11, 5-8 in ACC play, while Virginia fell to 20-14, 7-8 in league play. The Eagles will next take on Harvard before playing the rescheduled Beanpot first round game against UMass this week. They head to Notre Dame this weekend to continue ACC play.