Final Score: Boston Red Sox, 5, Boston College, 2
Yes, that reads correctly.
The surreal yearly tradition between Boston College and the Boston Red Sox continued Thursday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. The outcome, however, was somewhat unexpected.
After being trounced last year 11-1 by the World Series champions, BC displayed great resolve and effort against the Red Sox in this year’s battle. Many members of the BC team were raised in baseball-crazed New England, making these annual exhibitions against the Red Sox even more memorable, and the way this year’s game unfolded only added to the experience for the players. In his final BC game against the Red Sox, second-year captain and Connecticut native Tom Bourdon acknowledged how significant these games have been for him during his tenure at BC.
“It’s been a great experience,” Bourdon said. “Just being on the same field with some of these guys gives us confidence.”
Before the game, Mike Gambino discussed how the exhibition is a highlight of the season and resonates with players long after their BC careers.
“Anytime there is a gathering of baseball alumni … the Red Sox game invariably comes up,” Gambino said. “It’s a lot of fun but a lifelong memory as well.”
This year’s game featured a couple of notable performances from the Eagles, which allowed them to stay close with the professionals. Pitchers Steve Green and Mike King combined for three scoreless innings, allowing just four hits. Senior John Hennessy recorded a double in the seventh and has gotten a hit in each Red Sox game during his four years. Geoffrey Murphy was the only Eagle to reach base safely multiple times and also drove in one of the two runs.
These performances, along with the unexpectedly competitive nature of the game showed signs of improvement for a BC program that has struggled to win in recent years. Having won four of their first seven games, the Eagles are on their way to righting the ship this year after a season filled with struggles in 2013. Their combined pitching ERA is 2.66 and is keeping opposing hitters to a batting average of .231. Much of the early production from the Eagles is coming from young stars.
True freshman Johnny Adams has started four games and is second on the team in on-base percentage and batting average while sophomore Chris Shaw leads the team in batting average with .370 and has started all seven games. Starting pitchers Johnny Gorman and Andrew Chin have each thrown the ball well, according to Gambino, and their efforts have shown in keeping their ERAs under one.
These changes between last year and this year are not going unnoticed by Bourdon either.
“There has been great depth so far from top to bottom in both the lineup and the pitching rotation which has been key for us this year,” he said.
Additionally Bourdon can already see marked improvement on sophomores like Andrew Chin and Chris Shaw from last year to this year.
“They have been great for us. In just getting a little experience last year, they can be solid contributors for us now,” he said.
The team’s road does not get easier, however, as the Eagles should be truly tested in the upcoming month. They play 11 road games in fewer than three weeks. Six of these games are against ACC foes Miami and Virginia who are coming off very successful seasons and NCAA Tournament appearances while two others feature a Florida Atlantic team that nearly knocked off No. 1 ranked North Carolina in the NCAA Regionals last year before falling in 14 innings.
“The key is taking it game by game, inning by inning, and at bat by at bat,” said Bourdon of the daunting road trip down south. “We can’t look too far ahead.”
BC has failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament since 2009 and the ACC Tournament since 2010. Additionally, coming off a 12-win season, the Eagles are eager to forget their recent woes and are confident in their ability to be successful in this season.
“We have great chemistry on this team,” Bourdon said. “With that, I really believe that we can make a postseason run.”