Coming off its best win of the season Saturday, the Boston College baseball team staved off North Carolina for a while Sunday. Then the top of the sixth happened, and seven runs, five hits and an error later, UNC had the series sealed, and would go on to take the weekend finale 12-2.
“In the ACC, all these teams are so good,” said BC head coach Mike Gambino after the game. “And you give them a little bit of a window, you make a little mistake, and sometimes they’ll capitalize. We saw it yesterday, they made the mistake and here we go, we get the W, that’s the way baseball is, that’s the way baseball in the ACC is.”
Eagles starter Jeff Burke quickly loaded the bases in the top of the first inning, necessitating a visit from Gambino before the game’s first out. Cleanup hitter Tom Zengel plated Michael Russell on a sacrifice fly to left field before Burke escaped any more trouble on a rare 6-4-3-2 double play. BC’s John Hennessey couldn’t pick Blake Butera’s throw from second, but hosed down UNC’s Wood Myers at home with the help of catcher Nick Sciortino, who blocked any path Myers had to the Tar Heels’ second run.
“That was an unbelievable play,” Gambino said. “It was an unbelievable play by Hennessey in the beginning of that, you know, to continue that play, and then Nicky gives us so much toughness, and that was a really good example of that, he plays so hard, and for him to make that play, block the plate, catch the ball, and he got trucked pretty good. That was a big time play.”
UNC doubled its lead in the fourth but again failed to pull away, thanks to Butera’s run saving range to his left and a generous called strike three awarded to Burke to end the frame. BC didn’t waste time capitalizing. Chris Shaw doubled to left center, Joe Cronin followed with a full count laser up the middle, and both later scored to tie the game.
Despite the two jams, Burke held the UNC offense reasonably in check, until everything got away from Burke and the entire BC defense. Tar Heels third baseman Landon Lassiter, leading off the sixth, jumped all over a 1-0 offering from Burke and sent it to the base of the fence in right center, under the 366 feet marker, powering an eventual seven run inning for the visitors. Burke surrendered two more hits and a sac fly before Gambino pulled him for reliever Steve Green. The sophomore right hander finished with a line of five runs on a third innings pitched, but his coach was nonetheless impressed.
“I thought (Burke) threw the ball really well today,” Gambino said. “He was very good, caught some tough breaks there. He threw better than his numbers were going to look like. His stuff was good, his fastball was down, he commanded two pitches. He was very, very good today.”
Green didn’t record an out before getting yanked for Bobby Skogsbergh, and would be charged with three runs after Hoggarth misplayed Syke Bolt’s fly to left under the bright Sunday sun. Two batters later, Lassiter sailed a double completely over Loggarth, one-hopping the left field wall to push the lead to 9-2.
The Eagles opened too many windows in the sixth, and the Tar Heels shoved them skyward and ripped off the screens, just in case, before plowing through toward daylight.
UNC added three more runs in the eighth when Skogsbergh loaded the bases with no outs before John Nicklas and Jesse Adams mopped up the last six BC outs. Reilly Hovis delieved four hitless, scoreless innings after relieving starter Zach Gallen in the bottom of the sixth to close out the dominant Tar Heels victory.