Rocked By Wake

The Boston College baseball team concluded its first “home” series of the 2014 season at Bryant University’s Conaty Park in Smithfield, Rhode Island on Saturday. After splitting the first two games of its three-game weekend set against the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest, the Eagles had a chance to take their first ACC series since last April.

It wasn’t in the cards for BC, however, as the team fell to Wake Forest 8-0, dropping its record to 7-14 and 1-8 in ACC conference play.

Control issues plagued the Eagles’ pitching staff, costing the team the game on Saturday. Sophomore Jeff Burke started the game on the mound but was only able to make it through four and two-thirds innings due to a lack of control. He allowed five walks, four of which came consecutively in the third inning. The bullpen didn’t fare much better, as Bobby Skogsbergh and John Nicklas each allowed three walks in relief. Gifting 11 walks is simply not a recipe for winning baseball, as BC head coach Mike Gambino noted after the game.

“You can’t do that against a good baseball club like that,” Gambino said. “They’re going to take advantage of that, and that’s what they did. They did what you’re supposed to do in those situations.”

Wake Forest was only able to notch six hits on the afternoon. With the amount of free base runners allowed by BC pitching, however, it didn’t really matter. The Demon Deacons were able to take advantage and put eight runs on the board thanks to their patience at the plate as well as a big day from the top of the order.
Wake Forest got on the board in the third after the four straight walks allowed by Burke. After a run scored on a sac fly in the fourth, the Demon Deacons broke the game open in the fifth inning. Matt Conway doubled in two runners to give Wake Forest a commanding 5-0 lead.

The game remained 5-0 until late in the game, as Wake Forest tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth and one more in the top of the ninth.

Every Wake Forest starter reached base while five of the Demon Deacons’ first six batters knocked in at least one run. Evan Stephens led off and reached base three times, while also knocking in a run. The two-through-four hitters, Grant Shimbley, Charlie Morgan, and Matt Conway, combined for five RBI.
BC’s bats didn’t bail out its pitching staff either. The Eagles were held very quiet at the plate, registering four hits on the day while leaving eight men on base. Wake Forest’s Connor Kaden tossed seven shutout innings, striking out two while allowing three hits and one walk. The bullpen, comprised of John McCarren and Max Tishman, took it from there, shutting the door on a potential Eagles comeback, combining for two innings of one-hit baseball.

Gabriel Hernandez, Michael Strem, Johnny Adams, and Nick Colucci were the lone Eagles to register hits on Saturday. While Wake Forest drew 11 walks, BC was only able to do the same three times. The Eagles’ only real chance at a big inning came in the fifth after a one-out triple by Nick Colucci. Colucci was left stranded at third, however, as the Eagles couldn’t come up with a clutch hit. Colucci would be the only Eagle base runner to reach third base on the afternoon.

As a whole, the Eagles couldn’t really get anything going on Saturday. Gambino acknowledged his team’s frustration at the plate and struggles on the mound over the last two games, but remains optimistic about the direction in which the team is headed, with an upcoming game against Northeastern in Chestnut Hill.
“We know we can pitch well enough to win, so we’ll get back to doing what we do,” Gambino said.

An earlier version of this article stated that BC played on Sunday. The article now accurately reflects that BC played on Saturday.