Bethune-Cookman Sweeps BC in Season-Opening Series

Traveling down to Florida to take on Bethune-Cookman in the season-opening series, Boston College baseball wasn’t quite ready for what Daytona Beach had in store. Despite strong overall pitching, a lack of timely offense resulted in three disappointing one-run losses, leaving the Eagles on the wrong side of a three-game sweep.

As the series closed out in Florida on Sunday, the host Wildcats seemed to have BC’s number. Riding the momentum from the victories on Friday and Saturday, BCU’s Kyle Corbin quickly jumped on Eagles starting pitcher Dan Metzdorf, singling and eventually scoring on a wild pitch to give the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead.

They scored again in the bottom of the third and once more in the fifth to chase Metzdorf from the game. Even more impressive, however, was BCU starter Anthony Maldonado. Recording 10 strikeouts and only four hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings, the Wildcats’ bullpen was in prime position to finish out the game as the righty took the bench.

But the Eagles refused to roll over. After both bullpens pitched scoreless sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, BC entered the ninth facing a 3-0 deficit against lefty Joseph Calamita. Two quick pop-up outs by Mitch Bigras and Dante Baldelli left the Eagles clinging to their last at-bat

But three straight righties would prove more challenging to Calamita. After a two-out single by Jake Palomaki, Johnny Adams, and Michael Strem went for back-to-back doubles to right and left field, respectively, chasing Calamita from the game and cutting the lead to just one.

But it was again too little, too late for the Eagles’ comeback, as closer Alexis Herrera came in for the Wildcats and iced the game for his second save of the series.

On Saturday, the Wildcats’ energy level was off the charts. After a quiet top of the first, BC starter Brian Rapp allowed two quick walks and committed the team’s first error of the season. Palomaki, the Eagles’ sure-handed second baseman, followed with an error of his own, resulting in two unearned runs for the BCU in the bottom of the first.

Minimizing the damage to a three-run deficit through three innings, BC tried to claw back on the road. An RBI double to right by catcher Gian Martellini got the scoring going for the Eagles. Continuing the rally, BC drew two walks from BCU starter Donte Lindsay and chased him from the game, scoring twice more in the top of the fourth to tie the game behind RBI singles from Scott Braren, Bigras, and Palomaki.

The big innings weren’t over though. With the help of three walks, the Wildcats responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth—all with two outs—to retake a commanding 6-3 lead.

Eager to answer, Bigras set the tone for the Eagles in the top of the sixth by reaching first on a wild pitch strikeout by T.J. Densmore. A double later in the inning by center fielder Michael Strem drove in two runs to bring the Eagles back within one.

But that would be as close as the Eagles would come. Both bullpens were lights out in the final three and half innings. Allowing only two hits combined and no runs in that span, Densmore and BCU picked up its second straight win over the Eagles, 6-5.

Friday’s season-opening game featured a true pitchers duel between BC’s Jacob Stevens and Bethune-Cookman’s Tyler Norris. Each tossing six shutout innings, the two starters combined to allow six total hits, two walks, and zero runs. Even more impressively, Stevens and Norris combined for 20 strikeouts—nine and 11, respectively.

The Eagles smelled an opportunity, however, as Norris was replaced by Herrera. Stepping up to the plate with one out, Martellini saw his pitch and didn’t hesitate, ripping a double to the left-center gap. Seeing an opportunity to take the lead, head coach Mike Gambino pinch hit a righty, Brian Dempsey, for left-handed hitting third baseman Anthony Maselli. It was the matchup he was looking for, as Dempsey dropped one into shallow center field for a single, scoring Martellini and giving the Eagles their first lead of the day.

Despite having runners on second and third with one out in top of the ninth, the Eagles were unable to generate any more offense in the face of an ardent BCU staff. In the bottom of the frame, the Wildcats capitalized. Despite a single by first baseman Danny Rodriguez, the Eagles still recorded two outs as shortstop Demetrius Sims stepped to the plate.

With one man on base and two outs, Demetrius Sims stepped up to the plate with a chance to tie the game. Against closer Bobby Skogsbergh, Sims tripled to right center, tying the game and putting the Wildcats in prime position to steal a season-opening win. Second basemen Nate Sterijevski finished the job and singled home Sims to give BCU a season-opening win, 2-1, over the dismayed Eagles.

Featured Image by Michael Sullivan / Heights Editor