Birdball’s Weekend Wins Mark Best Start in Program History

Birdball

It is said in baseball circles that good pitching will always beat good hitting. Boston College baseball has had to use both to open its season at 7-0, its best start to a season since 1974 when records started being kept. So far, Birdball’s season has featured a 2-1 pitching duel, and a 17-0 blowout, but its last game at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla. against Villanova was new territory.

The Eagles (7-0) beat the Wildcats (1-5) 11-10 in a 12-inning slugfest that featured a combined 29 hits and 14 different pitchers. It was a back-and-forth affair, as both teams found themselves ahead, tied, and behind. The starting pitchers for both teams were out by the third inning, and the relief pitching was key to the Eagles’ success, as it did not allow a run in the last four innings.

Sophomore Jake Palomaki went a perfect 5-for-5 with three runs batted in and three runs scored, scoring his first run in the first inning off of a Gabriel Hernandez double to begin the scoring. The lead was short-lived, as Villanova responded with three runs off of two hits and two walks. The Wildcats tacked on another run in the bottom of the second, and scored three in the bottom of the third to chase starter Jesse Adams from the game.

BC responded in the fourth inning, roaring back to score four runs and tie the game off four straight hits and a wild pitch. In the top of the fifth, catcher Nick Sciortino singled to right field to score Dominic Hardaway and take an 8-7 lead. The Eagles held Villanova scoreless for three straight innings, until the seventh inning when the Wildcats scored on a sacrifice fly to tie the game again.

In the eighth inning, both teams scored twice to keep the game tied. Palomaki drove in Hardaway on a single to center field, and Sciortino scored on a throwing error by the Wildcat shortstop. Villanova scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth to keep the game tied, and the score remained 10-10 for the ninth, 10th, and 11th innings as both team’s relief pitchers shut down the opposing offenses.

The Eagles finally broke through in the top of the 12th. Sciortino started off the inning with a two-out walk, and advanced to third on a single to center by Mitch Bigras. The Villanova pitcher then threw a wild pitch, allowing Sciortino to score an unearned run and put BC in the lead 11-10. Villanova almost made a comeback, getting two runners on by a double and a walk, but senior right-handed pitcher John Nicklas got a strikeout looking to finally end the game.

On Saturday, the first day of the Snowbird Classic, the Eagles offense continued to stay hot, beating Indiana State University, 5-3. BC jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, scoring runs in the first and second innings. Junior Johnny Adams scored on a single by Donovan Casey, whose hit streak reached 12 games, and Logan Hoggarth scored in the second on an RBI groundout from Palomaki.

Indiana State came back to tie the game in the second inning after two walks and a two-run double, the first earned runs that a BC starter had given up this season. Right-hander Mike King was able to settle down after this, and went 6 2/3 innings, retiring the next 10 batters after the double.

BC took the lead back the next inning, plating two runs on a bunt single and a groundout. In the fourth, Palomaki ripped a one-out single to right field and then scored on a single by junior Michael Strem to make it a 5-2 game.

In the seventh inning, a tremendous BC defense was able to keep the Sycamores from crossing the plate. King allowed an infield single and a walk before freshman Dan Metzdorf came into the game. The pinch hitter hit a single to center, but before the runner at second could score, Strem’s throw to Adams was relayed to third base to get the out and end the inning.

The Sycamores got one run back in the top of the ninth, but it was not enough to stop a potent BC offense, who racked up 14 hits, and strong pitching and defensive efforts.

On Saturday, BC continued its red-hot five-game win streak with a 7-1 victory against Chicago State. While the Eagles only racked up five hits throughout the game, they took advantage of costly errors by the Cougars, and the offense came through in key spots to break the game open in the bottom of the fourth.

The game was close for the first four innings, with both teams showcasing strong pitching performances. The Eagles went into the bottom of the fourth tied with the Cougars 0-0, but not for much longer. Their five-run inning began with senior Joe Cronin’s walk, and his subsequent steal of second. Freshman Gian Martellini then ripped a 3-2 pitch to left center to bring home the first run of the game. Hoggarth grounded to the shortstop, who could not field it cleanly. Palomaki hit a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing Martellini to score. Hernandez walked to load the bases, and with two outs junior Michael Strem hit what should have been an inning-ending fly ball to right center. Instead, the right fielder and center fielder collided, allowing the fly ball to drop and the bases to clear.

The Cougars were able to get one run back in the top of the fifth, scoring off of a throwing error from senior Stephen Sauter, but could only muster four hits off of freshman right-hander Jacob Stevens. BC tacked on two more runs—Hernandez scored on an error in the sixth inning and Cronin on another Martellini single—to seal the game.

Stevens went six innings and picked up his second win of the year, only allowing one unearned run and four hits to go along with six strikeouts. He retired the first six Cougars of the game, and the first 11 of 12 batters he faced. Through the first five games, BC starters did not allow an earned run. Bobby Skogsbergh, Kevin Connor, and Jack Nelson all pitched scoreless innings in relief. Casey also extended his career-high hitting streak to 11 games.

The Eagles will hope that their own good hitting can go against the tide and beat good pitching, as they face the Boston Red Sox in their annual spring training game on Monday.

Featured Image by Michael Sullivan / Heights Editor