Eagles Fail to Close Deficit Against Tigers, Fall to .500

Save for a midweek win over Siena, Boston College baseball has taken its fair share of knocks the last five games. A poor start in conference play continued in Friday night’s series opener with Clemson, a blowout defeat, and then a late comeback fell short on Saturday afternoon with the Eagles dropping a disappointing 9-5 decision.

BC (11-11, 2-6 Atlantic Coast) starter Matt Gill failed to get out of the third inning in the loss, reflecting a troubling trend from head coach Mike Gambino’s rotation. The Eagles haven’t gotten a quality start from a member of the weekend rotation since Mason Pelio’s gem in the weekend finale against Louisville on March 10, and it’s put a burden on a bullpen that has yet to gel.

Clemson (18-5, 6-2) is the latest conference opponent to jump on BC pitching. After racking up eight runs on Friday, the Tigers built a 5-0 lead in the first three innings of Saturday’s game before holding on for the eventual win. The Eagles have been outscored during their recent six-game stretch by a decisive 61-27 margin, having allowed eight or more runs in four of those games.

Clemson got on the attack early against Gill, who was handed his third loss in as many starts. The junior righthander was tagged for seven earned runs in his last outing against Wake Forest, and a week of rest didn’t seem to help. He gave up back-to-back extra base hits to his first two batters, with the second a triple from Logan Davidson that brought in the game’s first run. Davidson came in via a sacrifice fly from Grayson Byrd, the next batter, and BC was already looking at a crooked number on the scoreboard.

In the second, the Tigers continued to see the ball well out of Gill’s hand. With one out, Bo Majkowski doubled, and Bryce Teodosio followed with an inside-the-park home run. Gill gave up back-to-back hits to open the third—the second of which was an RBI single from Kyle Wilikie—and was eventually pulled for Joey Walsh, who escaped a bases loaded, one-out jam. Gill finished with a tough line of 2.1 innings pitched, having given up eight hits and five runs, all earned.

Walsh’s escape act prompted some confidence in the BC bench, and the Eagles got their first runs in the bottom of the fourth. Jake Alu brought in a run with a sacrifice fly, then scored their second run “little league” style when Brian Dempsey stole second and eventually scored off of two Tiger throwing errors.

The Eagles were beginning to chip away at the Tigers’ lead, but Walsh ran into trouble in the sixth. He loaded the bases on a pair of hit batsmen and a bunt single, then gave way to Thomas Lane. The reliable reliever immediately allowed an inherited run to score on a wild pitch, and another came home on a groundout, but he largely limited further damage. Lane settled in and kept his team in the game for most of his outing, throwing 3.1 innings of relief with seven strikeouts.

Down by five runs, BC desperately needed to find some momentum, and it did in the home portion of the inning. Freshman Lucas Stalman roped a double into left field with two outs to bring home two runs, answering the Tigers’ pair in the top half. Stalman finished the day going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk—a strong day from a player who’s worked his way into the everyday starting lineup. Other players who had notable outings at the plate were freshman outfielder Sal Frelick, who went 2-for-5, and Dempsey, who also had a multi-hit performance with a 3-for-5 day.

Lane wasn’t perfect, though, and he exited in the ninth with one out and two runners on. Joe Mancini, who has split time between long relief and a starting role, immediately allowed both runners to score, as he coughed up a triple to Majowski, who reached base all five times he came up to the plate. The lead was back to a healthy five runs, and while Gian Martellini had an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth, the Eagles would ultimately leave the bases loaded when Dempsey flew out to right field.

While BC looked like a much improved team, both offensively and on the mound, in the latter stages of the game—it still dug itself an insurmountable deficit in the early innings. Metzdorf conceded seven runs on Friday, Gill nearly matched that on Saturday, and the Eagles have seen their rotation ERA steadily rise after the duo started the year with consecutive quality starts against Jackson State. Although BC’s offense hasn’t been firing on all cylinders either, its pitching will have to improve the opening innings to to give BC a fighting chance against the ACC’s best.

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor