There wasn’t supposed to be a game at Eddie Pellagrini Diamond on Wednesday, the start of Easter break. Then, when Boston College and UMass Lowell did play, the weather was way too cold for mid-April—so there were more players than fans at Shea Field. Those players, and the half-dozen fans in attendance, caught a pretty good tilt between the Hockey East rivals, and BC capped off a late-inning comeback with a 7-6 walk-off win in the 10th inning.
“There are so many people that had to get us ready for this game today, and we are so thankful,” said BC head coach Mike Gambino. “So for our boys to get a text message at 11:00 saying ‘Game On,’ I was proud of them. We came out, played hard, didn’t play the cleanest baseball in the world, but they played hard and kept battling and got out of here with a W.”
Lowell pushed its lead to 6-4 in the top of the eighth and had BC freshman left fielder Michael Strem down 0-2 with two outs in the bottom of the frame before the Eagles mounted their comeback. Strem offered up to counterpart left fielder Luke Reynolds what would have been a can of corn, but Strem’s poke dropped faster than expected as Reynolds battled the sun in the lonely, unshadowed part of the park. The ball dropped, and Logan Hoggarth scored for Strem’s fifth RBI on the day to make it a one run game.
Strem took second on Riverhawks catcher Jack Trotman, who had a tough afternoon behind the plate, and tied the game on fellow freshman Johnny Adams’ single through the left side.
“[Strem] had a great day, swung the bat great,” Gambino said. “And you look at tying that ball game, the two puppies, that was him and Johnny Adams.”
After BC failed to score in the ninth despite two runners in scoring position with one out, Adams worked a 3-2 walk and advanced to second on Nick Sciortino’s fielder’s choice as leadoff hitter Blake Butera stepped up to the plate. Butera took Riverhawk reliever Steve Xirinachs’ initial slider for a ball away and then jumped all over another breaking ball that caught too much of the plate and send it into left field. Reynolds, possibly seeing Gambino waving around Adams from the jump, charged and misplayed the hard grounder, and just like that, BC was celebrating Butera’s fourth career game-winning hit.
“He hung it a little bit, but Blake did a great job,” Gambino said. “He got his hands back and his barrel through it. I was sending him either way. Yeah, it did get by [Reynolds], but the kid was going hard to the line, he had to come in, come through the ball get his feet under him, I was sending him. We wanted to be aggressive and make him throw us out.”
Lowell and BC exchanged leads early on, with the Eagles up 3-2 heading into the fifth when reliever John Nicklas came on for Eric Stevens. Nicklas recorded no outs and gave up four hits, all doubles, and three runs on four batters faced before Jesse Adams made the eventual comeback possible by stemming tide and escaping the innings unscathed.
While the offense ultimately won the game, every pitcher that recorded an out contributed to the victory. Lowell walked just once and struck out out eight times before Butera mercifully sent everyone toward warmer temperatures.
“Yeah, the [pitching staff] did a great job,” Gambino said. “Johnny had a tough inning, had some balls fall on him, but his stuff was actually pretty good. He was missing up and they were hitting it. But [Jeff] Burke, [Mike] King, Luke [Fernandes], those guys were really good. Lukey had three innings on 21 pitches, that was unbelievable. And Eric Stevens threw the ball great, even the ball that that kid hit off Stevens, that was a pretty good pitch down and in, kid got his barrel on it. He looked good today, and I thought they threw the ball great.”