Two outs. Two men on. Two strikes. All Blaise Whitman had to do was throw one more strike to Nick Sciortino to get the Rhode Island Rams out of the third inning trailing by one. Sciortino patiently waited as three balls passed over the plate. With a full count, Whitman had one more chance to end the inning. The Eagles needed to make something happen after leaving men stranded in the past two innings. Sciortino bucked that trend.
The URI hurler threw just what Sciortino needed to send a rocket to right center for an RBI double, clearing the bases and sending two men home.
Throughout the afternoon, the Boston College Eagles (17-18, 6-11 ACC) stayed patient and made big hits under pressure to defeat Rhode Island (13-13-1, 6-3 A-10) by a score of 5-2 in a midweek matchup.
The teams got a lot of men on base early in the game, but left them stranded. Things changed in the third, when first baseman Joe Cronin singled in Johnny Adams to break the scoreless tie in the third. After a Michael Strem flyout moved Blake Butera and Cronin up to second and third, Sciortino stepped up to the plate. The catcher stayed patient and hit a double sending Butera and Cronin home giving BC a 3-0 edge.
BC head coach Mike Gambino and the Eagles knew this play was a game changer. “That’s enormous,” Gambino said. “If we don’t get those first couple of runs there it changes everything, the difference: 3-0 and 1-0.”
The Rams tried to cut the deficit. After pitches hit two players and Mike Sherburne hit a fielder’s choice, the bases were loaded with no outs. Rhode Island got one back in the fourth when Hess scored off a sac fly. “You figure you’re giving up one run but then you’re just on damage control,” Gambino said. “Give them one and settle back down and get back to work to get out of that.”
But the Rams were no match for Eric Stone. The senior right-hander tossed six innings allowing only one unearned run while walking two and striking out four. With the win, Stone dropped his season earned-run average to 1.66 while improving to 3-0.
Once he left, the bullpen had an up-and-down outing. Brian Rapp allowed the Rams to load the bases for John Nicklas, but the latter kept URI off the board in the seventh. In the following inning, however, Nicklas’ two-out walk to Derek Gardella proved costly, as Matt O’Neil doubled him in to cut BC’s lead to one.
Yet in the bottom of eighth, the Eagles came out swinging Butera got hit in the head by a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With one out and Strem at the plate, Butera stole third. The senior edged off third base, thirsty to reach home plate. “He’s reading down angle, reading down angle and as soon as the baseball is hit down he’s going hard,” Gambino said.
Strem made contact and Butera instantly flew towards home. Rams second baseman Chris Hess threw the ball high over home plate out of catcher Chase Livingston’s reach, just barely guaranteeing Butera’s safety at home.
“If [Butera] doesn’t do an unbelievable job with that read, he doesn’t get to score because the ball stayed in the infield,” Gambino said. “These are the things that Blake does that don’t show up on the score sheet but are a game changer.”
The Eagles added the insurance run shortly after, with a two-out single by Donovan Casey to bring Strem home and give BC a 5-2 lead with one inning left.
The Rams’ Tom Caputo started the inning with a double to give his team a chance to come back. Justin Dunn had other plans and struck out three batters in a row to close the game and get his fourth save of the season.
The Eagles stayed patient and maintained composure throughout the game to send the Rams to the buses for a quiet ride back to Rhode Island.
Featured Image by Daniella Fasciano / Heights Editor