All he had to do was throw a fastball that stayed too far over the middle, a curveball that hung up in the zone, or a changeup that didn’t fool anyone for a second—that was it. For eight innings, Boston College baseball (16-17, 6-10 ACC) had fought to maintain a small edge, rallying every time Clemson (17-18, 8-9 ACC) tried to get ahead. Had Jesse Adams made any one of those mistakes with the bases loaded and no one out, an 8-7 lead would have been gone. A BC win may have disappeared with it.
But hey, no pressure.
Justin Dunn started on the mound in the ninth inning for the Eagles. The right-hander hurled 2 2/3 innings in relief of starter John Gorman, and though he had already given up three runs of his own, he remains one of the top options in BC’s pen.
The top of the order, Eli White, came to the plate for Clemson. Dunn walked him on four pitches.
Walks had been a problem for the Eagles’ staff all day. Gorman had given a free pass to White to start the game. Steven Duggar followed that with a single, giving Clemson runners on first and second with no outs. After a 15-run explosion Friday night, the Tigers looked to pick up where they left off.
But after a first-pitch ball to the three-hole Tyler Krieger, BC catcher Nick Sciortino suddenly came up throwing down to second, catching White napping off the second base bag. Two pitches later, Duggar tried to swipe second. Sciortino gunned him down, too.
“Game changer,” Gambino said. “Nick Sciortino. Game changer.”
Gorman would walk Krieger, but then settled down to strike out Reed Rohlman, Clemson’s clean-up man. Gorman went on to pitch 5 1/3 innings and give up four runs—not a quality start, but without the big inning the Tigers could have put up in the first, it was enough to keep BC in the game.
As White reached first base in the ninth, Gambino made his way to the mound, motioning for a left-hander from the pen. Adams made his way out from left field, confidently taking the ball from his manager.
“I knew if I attacked and kept the ball down, I thought I would be fine,” Adams said. “I was hoping to get a ground ball, try and get a double play. Obviously that didn’t work out.”
Adams battled in an eight-pitch at bat with Duggar, who drew a walk after fouling four straight balls off. Krieger, the next hitter, drew a five-pitch walk from Adams. Bases loaded, none down, one-run lead.
The 8-7 lead that the Eagles held going in to the ninth was their first since the top of the sixth, when Chris Okey hit his second home run of the game to put Clemson ahead. Even without the heart of its lineup—outfielder Chris Shaw, who was out after sustaining a hand injury in Friday’s game—BC came back.
Logan Hoggarth picked up where he left off after going 2 for 2 as a pinch hitter Friday night, picking up two singles and a double in four at bats. Gabriel Hernandez, filling in for Shaw in left, hit a clutch two-out, two-RBI double, designated hitter Stephen Sauter hit a clutch two-out, two-RBI homer (his first of the season), and Blake Butera hit a clutch two-out, RBI single in the eighth to give BC its game-winning run.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone in the country you’d rather have up when you have the winning run on second base [than Butera],” Gambino said. “If there’s a chance to get a big hit, he’s going to get it.”
As Adams buckled down to face Rohlman, with no place to put him, he admitted he was a little nervous. It didn’t show.
He got Rohlman to swing and miss at the first two pitches, and after throwing his third pitch for a ball, caught Rohlman looking for the first out. Next, he had to face Okey—the biggest threat in the Clemson order to tag a gland slam onto the scoreboard, especially with the wind blowing out to left-center.
Adams got him to swing at strike three in four pitches.
“Once I settled in, like I said, with my three-pitch mix—that’s what did it for me,” Adams said.
Fastball, changeup, curveball. Adams faced off against the only player in either lineup not to have picked up a hit on the day: Chase Pinder. The second baseman fouled off two of Adams’ pitches and took three more, spurring a full-count that would send the runners moving. Changeup: strike three. Ballgame.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor