The bleak tone of the Boston College baseball team’s series opener against No. 30 North Carolina was set within the first few plate appearances’ time. After yielding two runs to the visiting Tar Heels in the first inning, the Eagles were unable to respond effectively, and an early advantage grew into an enormous lead, as UNC won the contest 7-0.
For the BC team, particularly starting pitcher John Gorman and left-hander Nick Poore, the problem that resulted in the rout was one of balls and strikes, or early walks and too little, too late strikeouts. When their team needed outs, the two pitchers were unable to deliver.
In the first inning, UNC’s second baseman Wood Myers and centerfielder Skye Bolt consecutively and respectively avoided outs in full count situations: Myers was walked, and Bolt sent an arching double over Chris Shaw, and the ball tumbled past the player’s outstretched glove. Cleanup hitter Tom Zengel, who was batting .346 and slugging .635 going into Friday’s game, drove the two runners home with a double of his own, giving UNC a 2-0 lead.
The Tar Heels widened the gap between the two teams in the second inning. Tyler Ramirez was able to hit an infield single then steal second, and he darted home after UNC shortstop Michael Russell singled to center field, increasing his team’s lead to 3-0.
UNC reemerged as an offensive presence in the fifth, and it did so decisively. In a situation that reflected the setup of the first inning, Myers and Bolt once again evaded outs in full- count situations, as both drew walks off Gorman. BC head coach Mike Gambino then brought reliever Nick Poore to the mound. The substitution brought little aid, though, as Zengel, the first batter whom Poore faced, hit a towering homerun and extended the lead to 6-0, all on a full count.
The final run for UNC would come in the sixth inning against Tyler “Cheese” Hinchliffe. After Poore loaded the bases, Myers plated Landon Lassiter and put the Tar Heels ahead 7-0.
Following this sixth inning score, for the rest of the game, the BC pitching staff prevented UNC from tallying additional runs. Hinchliffe, who entered the game with the bases loaded, was able to disrupt the Tar Heels’ offensive attack, giving up only one run over the course of three innings and striking out four.
“The bright spot was Cheese,” Gambino said. “He threw the ball very well for us. That’s something we can take away and build on.”
UNC pitcher Trent Thornton performed outstandingly through the entire nine innings. His final pitch, which struck out swinging pinch hitter Tom Bourdon, was clocked at 90 mph, but the strikeout itself was only Thornton’s fifth-the same amount that Gorman collected over the course of 4.1 innings. Instead of dominating the BC lineup with power pitching, the wily UNC right-hander employed precision. While Thornton walked three BC batters during the game and occasionally struggled with his control, he always recovered and focused and improved his pitch placement
“Eight walks today, four of them scored, [is] too many against a good baseball club, and North Carolina is a good baseball club,” Gambino said.