Boston College baseball’s doubleheader against Quinnipiac on Saturday illustrated the two different strategies Birdball can win with: small ball and long ball. In the second game of the afternoon, BC went with the former.
It took some time for either team to threaten at the plate. In the home half of the third, the Eagles loaded the bases behind a walk, single, and error. With one out, Michael Strem hammered a hard grounder up the middle that, at first, appeared as if it would sneak through the infield and plate a pair. But second baseman Ryan Nelson snagged the liner to his right, spun, and turned a double play to end the inning.
On the mound, Brian Rapp threw an absolute gem. He didn’t allow his first hit until there were two outs in the fifth inning, and even then, he worked out of the jam effortlessly. Given that it was a non-conference game, Rapp exited after five innings of work, picking up a career-high eight strikeouts and earning the third win in his last four starts.
In the bottom of the fifth, Anthony Maselli led off with a walk and stole second soon after. Aaron Soucy, who caught the second game in place of Gian Martellini, struck out swinging but reached first because of a dropped third strike. That put runners on the corners with no outs for second baseman Jake Palomaki. The Eagles’ leadoff man laid down a beautiful bunt that scored Maselli for the first run of the game, courtesy of zero total base hits.
“I don’t spend a lot of time recruiting position-player power bats,” head coach Mike Gambino said. “We’re always built on pitching and defense.”
With one out in the seventh, Donovan Casey got ahold of one and lined it off the wall in left field. After advancing to third on a passed ball, Casey scored on a sac fly to center by Strem. In the eighth, BC extended the lead to 3-0 with more small ball. Jake Alu walked to lead off the inning, moved to second on a passed ball, and reached third on a groundout. Then, Mitch Bigras chopped a grounder to the right side, but the first baseman couldn’t handle it and Alu crossed the plate safely.
Carmen Giampetruzzi and John Witkowski tossed two scoreless innings apiece to secure the shutout victory for the team and the win for Rapp.
Entering Saturday’s doubleheader against Quinnipiac, the Eagles had hit eight home runs this season, or about one long ball every six games. Within a couple hours of the first pitch, they erupted for three homers in a 5-1 win over the Bobcats.
The Bobcats got on the board early against Jacob Stevens in game one of the doubleheader. Mike Palladino led off the top of the first inning with a single to center, then stole second to put himself in scoring position. A base hit to right brought Palladino home to give Quinnipiac a 1-0 advantage. Stevens came back with three strikeouts to end the inning.
To start BC’s half of the first, Palomaki drew his 115th career walk, breaking the program record. Back-to-back singles by Strem and Alu were enough to score Palomaki and tie the game at 1-1.
In the fourth, Gambino opted to go to his bullpen earlier than usual. With the likelihood of Sunday’s game being cancelled due to rain, he sent in starter Dan Metzdorf to relieve his ace after just three innings. Stevens allowed only one run and two hits to go along with four strikeouts.
Metzdorf silenced the Bobcat offense over the next five innings, extending his scoreless-inning streak to 11. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ lineup kept getting it done with one swing of the bat. Mitch Bigras led off the fourth inning with a solo shot to right field, giving BC its first lead of the afternoon. Then, the following inning, Martellini smashed a hanging breaking ball over the wall in left field to extend the lead to 3-1. In the bottom of the eighth, Johnny Adams skied one over the foul pole in left field, but the third base umpire waved it out of play. Two pitches later, the senior captain made sure there was no doubt about it when he crushed his second homer of the season to make it 5-1.
With the insurance runs, Casey breezed through the ninth. He struck out all three Bobcat hitters he faced, shutting the door for what would have been his sixth save of the year if a runner had reached second base.
Saturday was an all-around success for Birdball, which saw its arms deal and its bats find some strokes of power. The Eagles will need to replicate the effort in their final ACC series of the year against Notre Dame next weekend, when they’ll likely have to win at least two of three to make the ACC Tournament.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor