Walk off single leads Syracuse to a 3-2 win over Virginia Tech

Codie Yan | Staff Photographer

Sammy Fernandez made an error the cost SU a run, but came back and won the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh.

Virginia Tech left fielder Kinsey Johnson ran forward, lowering her glove to field a Sammy Fernandez single. Alyssa Dewes was approaching third base, ready to head home. But Johnson misjudged the ball, as it went rolling next to her, all the way to the warning track. The crowd erupted and Syracuse head coach Mike Bosch threw his hands in the air, celebrating the walk-off single.

“We’ve been on the other end of those a few times,” Bosch said. “We were well due for that.”

Fernandez’s walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning led Syracuse (28-18, 8-10 Atlantic Coast ) over Virginia Tech (19-32, 5-17) 3-2 this Friday in the first game of this weekend’s home series. The Orange’s offense struggled all day, only collecting three runs on five hits, and only three hits until the last half inning. But, with a 2-2 game in the bottom of the seventh inning, the hits came.

The team scored two early runs, one apiece in the second and third innings. But after that, Virginia Tech starter Carrie Eberle stalled the Syracuse offense. SU failed to put a single runner on base during the fourth and fifth innings.

For a while it looked like the two runs would be all Syracuse needed. Starter Alexa Romero didn’t allow a hit through the first three innings, and only walked one batter after a full count and a ball on the outside corner that had SU fans upset. But then Romero gave up a home run in the fourth, and a Sammy Fernandez error extended the inning, allowing another run to tie the game at 2-2.

In the bottom of the sixth, SU looked like it would pull back ahead. Alicia Hansen walked to lead off the inning, and after a 10-pitch at-bat, Sydney O’Hara doubled to advance Hansen to third. Runners on second and third. No one out.

Two quick groundouts and a pop fly later, Hansen and O’Hara jogged back to the dugout after being stranded on base. Three opportunities to bring a single run home and not one player could do it.

“That’s the game,” Bosch said. “It was a frustrating moment. You hope that somebody can lift a fly ball, hit a ball to the right side, even get a hit. That’d be great too!”

On the flip side, SU stumbled out the gates to start the seventh. Jessica Heese took a ball off her side to get on first. Up next came Olivia Martinez, the team’s leader in sacrifice bunts. And she did just that, attempted to lay down a bunt. But this time, she missed. The ball snuck under Martinez’s bat, and Heese, who already jumped out to run to second base was caught in a pickle. VT catcher Lauren Duff gunned the ball down to second base for the tag, easily beating Heese’s slide.

Instead of having Heese on second with Fernandez at the plate, Martinez was down in an 0-1 count with nobody on.

“I just knew I needed to do something to get on base,” Martinez said. “I didn’t care what it was. I just knew that I needed to find some way to at least get to first.”

The next pitch she saw was low and away, and the righty pulled the ball deep to right field, toeing the line and bouncing all the way to the wall for a stand-up double.

With Fernandez up to bat, Bosch subbed Dewes in as a pinch runner on second.

Any ball to the outfield, and Dewes would take off. The outfield was also playing deeper than Bosch thought it would, he said, giving Dewes that much more room to fly around the bases.

Fernandez ripped the first pitch, an outside drop-ball, over shortstop Jessie Mehr’s head and into left field. Dewes immediately jumped off second and raced for third. Johnson came storming in from deep left field to scoop the ball and attempt to throw out Dewes at home, but she missed the ball, giving Dewes an easy path, and Fernandez the walk-off single.

The team raced out of the dugout, jumping up and down around the plate. Fernandez pumped her right fist in the air, as she ran the bases, clapping along the way.

“Knowing I made that error that cost us a run,” Fernandez said, “it was nice to clear my mind, come back and be able to step up for the team.”


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