After stranding nine runners on base in the series finale against Virginia Tech, a narrow three-run loss, Boston College baseball hosted Connecticut on Tuesday afternoon looking to make the most of its chances. The problem for the Eagles, though, was that they would have very few of them.
Huskies right-hander Jeff Kersten spun 8 2/3 scoreless innings despite entering with opponents hitting .324 against him, and teammate P.J. Poulin finished off the shutout, handing BC a 4-0 loss, its second-straight defeat.
Kersten scattered two hits and two walks while striking out a pair and was boosted by the Huskies’ (12-9, 1-2 American Athletic) four runs—two apiece in the sixth and ninth innings. It was nothing short of a disappointing offensive effort from the Eagles (9-13, 4-5 Atlantic Coast), who entered as one of the top offensive teams by batting average in the ACC, but only saw Jake Palomaki and Gian Martellini pick up hits.
BC got strong pitching performances from Matt Gill and William Hesslink, combining to throw five scoreless innings, but the bullpen eventually cracked. Gill threw the first four, working around a walk and four hits, and Hesslink—just a freshman—continued to impress, tossing a scoreless frame with a strikeout.
Brendan Spagnuolo, however, would falter in the sixth, allowing four-consecutive singles before taking a seat in the dugout. Anthony Prato and Zuc Susi both reached before Prato came around on a single from Isaac Feldstein. Thad Phillips added a single through the right side to load the bases, forcing Eagles head coach Mike Gambino to make the call to the bullpen,
Zach Stromberg would allow an RBI sacrifice fly to Christian Fedko, but avoided further damage with an infield fly and a foul out. Stromberg went on to throw three innings, working around a pair of hits in the seventh before striking out a pair in the eighth.
His replacements, though, didn’t fare as well. In the ninth, with the Eagles still within striking distance, John Witkowski couldn’t find his command once he took over on the mound. He walked Fedko on five pitches, hurled a wild pitch, then walked Chris Winkel to prompt Gambino to bring in Jack Hodgson.
Hodgson would throw the ball away on the ensuing sacrifice bunt attempt from Michael Woodworth, resulting in another run. After issuing a walk, Prato used a sacrifice fly to push the lead to four. After intentionally walking Susi, Gambino turned to Jack Nelson, who came up big, inducing a much-needed double play.
It wouldn’t matter, ultimately, as the Eagles couldn’t crack Kersten throughout the game. Martellini singled in the second, but Jake Alu then grounded into a double play. In the fourth, Palomaki singled, but his time on the basepaths was short-lived, thanks to an inning-ending double play on a flyout by Jack Cunningham.
In the ninth, after recording two quick outs, Kersten finally started to fatigue—he walked Scott Braren, threw a wild pitch, then walked Palomaki. With the Huskies protecting the four-run lead, UConn head coach Jim Penders opted to not risk Kersten’s scoreless start going by the wayside, instead turning to Poulin—who quickly got Dante Baldelli to ground out to second to end the game.
The loss, on the heels of their first conference weekend series, was a letdown for the Eagles. Much has been made of their struggles on the mound, as they entered with one of the worst ERAs in the conference—but on a day in which none of the weekend starters appeared and the pitching was particularly strong, the offense was the missing piece. Managing just two hits against a pitcher making his third D-I start is a rather forgettable performance, something BC will have to shake off as it looks ahead to a weekend series against Clemson—a team that sits at 12th in D1Baseball.com’s top 25.
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor