Chris Shaw started the fire.
Heading into Raleigh, NC to play a three-game series with NC State, the Eagles were struggling. A loss to start the weekend seemed to set the Eagles back even more, but over the next two matchups with the Wolfpack, Shaw’s bat woke up. He hit .571 on 14 at-bats over the course of that weekend.
“That’s an excellent team,” Shaw said of NC State. “To take two of three from them kind of was, for us, a turning point and realizing that we can beat anyone in this league.”
While the team stuttered in a midweek clash against St. John’s, leaving 15 men on base in the process, it rebounded with a doubleheader victory and eventual sweep of Maryland, before taking two from the Rams at the University of Rhode Island.
The streak seemed too good to be true, and so did John Gorman’s no-hitter through seven and two-thirds innings in the team’s 3-2 victory over Pittsburgh.
His work on the mound helped BC hold on to a 1-0 advantage. In the bottom of the fourth, Shaw’s hit up the middle got things going. Michael Strem’s single to left preceded a sacrifice fly to center by Tom Bourdon that scored Shaw.
The sophomore’s miracle work continued in the ninth. After Tyler Hinchliffe walked to start the final frame, Nick Colucci replaced him as a pinch runner. With no outs, Gabriel Hernandez was pulled aside by manager Mike Gambino. While he did not get his bunt down, Hernandez pulled the ball to right to put runners on first and second. On Butera’s at-bat, Colucci was thrown out at third. Joe Cronin singled to left to score Hernandez, tying the game at two.
Pittsburgh reliever Hobie Harris was in trouble, and the sounds of Kendrick Lamar’s “m.A.A.d city” blared over the Shea Field speakers.
“I knew if Chris Shaw got to the plate, we win the baseball game,” Gambino said. “That’s what that whole inning was about: if Chris Shaw gets to the plate, we win.”
The sophomore stepped into the batters’ box and looped the ball into left-center field. His third hit of the day scored Butera, and extended the Eagles’ win streak through a walk-off single—the first of his career.
With the conference’s hottest bat in the lineup, more wins will only boost the confidence of a young squad.
“We’re a completely different ball club and kind of scary right now,” Shaw said. “Nobody really wants to come in here and play us.”
Chestnut Hill has had a winning team for the past week, and it seems that the Eagles have turned the corner.
“If you look at early on in the season, we were so close so many times, and then the confidence got shaken a little bit for a couple of weeks, and then we started playing better—getting a couple of wins,” Gambino said. “All of sudden, we realized that we don’t have to do anything special. We can just play baseball.”
Gambino’s team would not have gone into the ninth inning so close with the Panthers had it not been for Gorman, who struck out a career-high eight batters.
“After the fifth—he had a no-hitter—nobody talks to him,” Gambino said. “I didn’t ask him anything.”
Gorman had everything going for him until Stephen Vrenka broke up his vibe in the top of the eighth inning.
“He’s pounding the zone,” Shaw said. “Great tempo, which is awesome on defense. He’s not keeping us waiting around. Balls in play quickly. He was awesome.”
Shaw’s contributions on the offensive end helped picked up his teammate, who would have been awarded the loss without the sophomore’s heroics. With much expected of Shaw headed into the season, the Lexington, Mass. native is now making the most of the season.
“Just going up to the plate with a lot of confidence, and just knowing that my teammates will pick me up too if I don’t get the job done,” said Shaw.