Despite the disappointment of falling to Harvard in the first round of the Beanpot, spoiling chances at a four-peat, Boston College baseball bounced back in a convincing fashion.
The Eagles avoided their first winless showing since 2014 with a 9-2 win over Massachusetts on Tuesday afternoon in the consolation game, winning their second-straight game with an impressive offensive showing and an equally strong appearance on the mound.
BC (11-19, 5-10 Atlantic Coast) catcher Jake Goodreau, making just his fourth start of the season, broke out in a big way—the sophomore backstop went 2-for-5 from the nine hole with a team-best four RBIs.
It was enough run support for starter Jack Nelson, who worked around six hits and five walks in five innings of two-run ball to pick up his first win of the season. Backed up by four scoreless innings of relief from John Witkowski, the Eagles broke open a 4-2 ballgame in the sixth with a five-run frame, building momentum into the four games remaining this week.
The Minutemen (9-13, 2-7 Atlantic 10) committed three errors in the loss, making things difficult for their trio of pitchers. Starter Ben Shields was tagged for four runs, just two earned, in four innings of work. Reliever Connor Donahue gave up five of his own, but ran into trouble at the start of the sixth after a throwing error.
BC took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning, after Scott Braren and Chris Galland laced singles up the middle. Brian Dempsey moved them over with a well-placed sacrifice bunt, setting the stage for Goodreau—who hit the first pitch he saw right back at Shields, then beat out the throw for a pair of RBIs.
It tacked on two more against Shields in the fourth. After a dropped foul ball extended Dempsey’s at-bat, he sliced a 3-2 pitch up the middle for a one-out single. After a passed ball and a walk of Jake Alu, he came around to score via a throwing error by UMass first baseman Cooper Mrowka. Alu, who made his way to third on the throw, scored on an RBI groundout from Jake Palomaki.
The Eagles led, 4-0, through four, but that wasn’t to say that Nelson didn’t work in and out of trouble. His shaky command at times nearly cost him, as a single and a pair of walks—one on just four pitches—loaded the bases in the second, but escaped with a groundout to short.
After stranding five Minutemen through the first four innings, his luck finally caught up to him in the fifth. Nelson got two quick outs on just three pitches, but quickly ran into trouble. He walked Nolan Kessinger then gave up an RBI double to Eddy Hart, who moved to third on a wild pitch then scored on Connor Smith’s single.
Nelson gave up a single and issued another walk to load the bases, but yet again, escaped without further damage. Missed opportunities were ultimately the story of UMass’s loss, as it wouldn’t score again and left 10 runners on base with nine hits, both more than BC.
Witkowski kept the Minutemen on lock down the stretch and had plenty of support, thanks to the Eagles’ five-run inning. After Galland reached via a throwing error to open the sixth, he stole second base to pull into third on BC’s single-season all-time list with 20. A walk and a single later, Goodreau came through again—he drove in two with a single to right and, despite getting thrown out at second, still finished the day with an impressive line.
Palomaki was hit by a pitch, and Dante Baldelli drew a walk to reload the bases—and this time it was Jack Cunningham’s turn to cash in. Similar to Gian Martellini’s bases-clearing double on Sunday afternoon, Cunningham brought three runners home with a two-bagger off the right-center wall to put the game out of reach.
The win, ultimately, was to be expected—not only have the Minutemen struggled recently, but they were also playing in a consolation game on the road. Still, it’s a promising sign that the Eagles have allowed just two runs in the last 18 innings while putting up almost 20 runs. It’s clear that the season will go up and down with the pitching, but when the bats show up, BC will be in a good position to succeed. To do so, it’ll mean finding the consistency that has eluded the team so far this year.
Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor