After getting swept on the rod at Pittsburgh and losing a mid-week game at home to Campbell, the Virginia Tech Hokies were looking to bounce back this weekend with the ACC's worst team so far this season, the Boston College Eagles, coming to Blacksburg. This series presented a great opportunity for the Hokies to get things back going and to end a disappointing four-game losing streak which is exactly what they did.
Virginia Tech took care of business this weekend sweeping Boston College to go to 17-13 overall including 6-6 in ACC play which is tied for second currently in the Coastal division and tied for fifth overall in the ACC. This was also the first multi-game series in which the Hokies gave up 6 or less runs in all 3 games of the series.
Game 1: Virginia Tech 16, Boston College 4
Virginia Tech opened the series with a dominant offensive performance Friday night with 3 home runs including 2 from Sam Fragale on their way to a 16-4 victory with Connor Coward picking up the win to go to 5-0 after 5 solid innings of work.
Coward has been great during mid-week games, and he did well in his first weekend start with 5 solid innings only giving up 3 runs, 6 hits, and 2 walks while getting 5 strikeouts in this game. The bullpen only allowed 1 run in their four innings of work with that being by Joey Sullivan while Packy Naughton had 2 strikeouts in a solid innings of work, Paul Hall Jr. got 5 outs including a strikeout, and Dylan Hall shut it down in the ninth without giving up a hit.
Sam Fragale had another big game with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs as he went 3-for-5 at the plate in what was a great performance from the Hokies' cleanup hitter. JD Mundy went 3-for-5 with a solo home run while Tom Stoffel and Jack Owens both did a great job setting the table for Fragale with Stoffel going 5-for-6 with a RBI and Owens going 4-for-6 with a RBI.
Ryan Tufts also had a solid game going 3-for-6 with 2 RBIs while Rahiem Cooper went 2-for-3 in this game with a RBI. Joe Freiday had 2 RBIs and went 2-for-4 in this game while Garrett Hudson had a hit and a RBI in what was a good day for just about everyone in the Virginia Tech starting lineup.
Game 2: Virginia Tech 10, Boston College 6
Virginia Tech hit four home runs with Tom Stoffel having a strong game both at the plate and coming in as a reliver with 2 shutout innings as the Hokies took down Boston College 10-6 with Nick Anderson getting his fifth win of the season to go to 5-2 on the season.
Tom Stoffel was the star of this game going 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run, 2 doubles, and 5 RBIs while stepping up at the mound and giving the Hokies 2 shutout innings giving up only 2 hits while also getting 2 strikeouts. Stoffel hasn't come in to pitch much but his performance Saturday was one of his best while he also had a tremendous day at the plate.
Nick Anderson had 5 solid innings on the mound giving up 3 runs with only 1 being earned along with 6 hits and 1 walk while striking out 3 as he continues to be one of the Hokies' top 2 starters. Stoffel was quite good while Andrew McDonald gave up 2 runs in 1 inning and Aaron McGarity also gave up a run in the ninth inning.
Sam Fragale hit a three-run home run in this game while Joe Freiday went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and Rahiem Cooper also had a solo home run. Ryan Tufts went 3-for-5 in this game while Jack Owens also had a hit though the Hokies' defense wasn't great with 3 errors including 2 from Sam Fragale.
Game 3: Virginia Tech 4, Boston College 3 (10 innings)
Sunday's closing game was much closer but after being down 1 run going into the ninth, the Hokies tied it up in the ninth and won it in the tenth thanks to a walk-off single from Jack Owens with the bases loaded that brought in Mac Caples. Packy Naughton came in with 5.1 innings of relief on his way to earning his second win of the season to improve his record to 2-4.
Kit Scheetz gave up only 1 run, 5 hits, and 3 walks in 4.2 innings of work and had 3 strikeouts before Naughton came in and threw 5.1 innings, allowing 2 runs, 4 hits, and 1 walk while having 5 strikeouts. With Connor Coward and Nick Anderson having the top two weekend spots locked down, it seems that Naughton and Scheetz are the two battling for that third weekend rotation spot with Scheetz having the edge for now.
Jack Owens had a great game going 3-for-6 with the game-winning RBI single as he continues to be a strong leadoff hitter for the Hokies. Ryan Tufts went 2-for-4 on the afternoon with a RBI while Mac Caples scored 2 runs and had a hit in this game. Rahiem Cooper went 2-for-4 with a RBI while Sam Fragale also drove a run in, and JD Mundy and Joe Freiday each had a hit in this game.
1. Connor Coward has rightfully moved into Virginia Tech's weekend rotation.
With Virginia Tech's weekend rotation struggling outside of Nick Anderson and Connor Coward doing well in mid-week games, Pat Mason made a smart move moving Coward to the weekend rotation and it paid off with Coward giving the Hokies five solid innings of work on Friday on their way to a 16-4 rout over Boston College.
Coward has emerged as one of the Hokies' top two starters with a 5-0 record, 2.09 ERA, and 29 strikeouts in 38.2 innings so far this season. This has been a breakthrough opening six weeks for the junior starter and Mason has made the smart move adding Coward to the Hokies' weekend rotation after the struggles of guys like Andrew McDonald, Joey Sullivan, and even Packy Naughton.
2. Jack Owens has been a big addition at the top of the VT order.
Jack Owens has emerged as one of the top contact hitters in the ACC with an impressive .400 batting average in his first 30 games while also having a .464 on-base percentage, 10 walks, 6 hit-by-pitches, and 6 stolen bases. Those after Owens have been able to take advantage of Owens's table-setting with Owens having scored 35 times this season, second only to Ryan Tufts (36).
Owens had to sit out last season after transferring from East Carolina but the redshirt sophomore has been a tremendous addition to a Virginia Tech lineup that is one of the best in the ACC. Owens has proven to be one of the best table setters not only in the ACC but across the country and without him, the Hokies' offense definitely wouldn't be as good as it has been so far.