Bullpen Falters in First Round of Beanpot Against Massachusetts

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Boston College baseball could not have asked for a better weekend leading into the first round of the Beanpot.  The Eagles were fresh off a road trip against No. 21 Florida State, where they took two of three games from the Seminoles for the first time since 2009. Additionally, they held a seven-game win streak over their first round opponent—Massachusetts—and were looking to punch their ticket to the Beanpot Championship after a first-round loss last season.

Instead, the bullpen faltered in the fifth inning, and the lineup managed just two hits in the final four frames of a disappointing 6-2 defeat.

“It didn’t look like the same ball club,” head coach Mike Gambino said. “The bats weren’t great, we just didn’t have good at bats.

“It’s not good enough, because I can handle winning and losing baseball games, but I can’t handle when we don’t play up to our potential. We didn’t do that today and that’s on me—I need to do a better job.”

With wins over Clemson, FSU, and No. 8 Louisville, BC (14-14, 5-7 Atlantic Coast) has proved that, when playing to its potential, it can beat the cream of the crop in the conference—but whether or not Gambino’s team can finish the season above .500 is a matter of consistency. Against the Minutemen (6-15), a team that suffered 12 straight defeats earlier this year, the Eagles were unable to replicate their weekend success.

There was not much offense for the Eagles, who could only muster two runs in the game. They erased an early 2-0 deficit in the fourth, after freshman Sal Frelick got the inning started with an infield single. Brian Dempsey bunted for a hit, and the next two batters walked, resulting in the team’s first run. Then, with the bases loaded and no outs, Gian Martellini grounded into a double play, scoring their second run but killing any potential chance at a big inning.

The lone offensive highlight the rest of the game came from junior right fielder Joe Souzzi, who tripled in the bottom of the seventh. It got the Eagles’ bench and fans energized and seemed as if it could have been the big hit to get them back in this game, but the UMass bullpen did a good job of quieting that chance.

Pitching wise, it was another inconsistent game. Starting pitcher Travis Lane went four innings, only surrendering two runs—one earned—off of two hits, but he walked five batters. Lane was relieved by Will Hesslink, which is when the Minutemen broke the game open. Hesslink entered having worked scoreless innings against both Clemson and FSU, but he couldn’t find that same consistency on Tuesday night.

He loaded the bases with two outs via a pair of walks and a single allowed, then let his command get away from him and hit Nolan Kessinger to give UMass the lead. Minutemen shortstop Ryan Lever popped a single through the right side to bring two more runs in, pushing the lead to three. Hesslink would get a flyout to end the frame, but the damage was done.

UMass added another run in the ninth, thanks to a pair of passed balls, reflections of a tough game for the Eagles’ battery. Matt Gill worked three solid innings of relief but walked two, and even Thomas Lane issued a walk in the ninth. In total, BC issued 10 walks to just six strikeouts, something that cost them a chance at staying in the game.

“[We’ve] got to throw it over the plate,” Gambino said. “We just walked too many guys. We want to do a better job of throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters, and see a lot more 0-1, 0-2 counts instead of the 2-0, 3-1 counts. The only thing on the mound is just throwing the ball over the plate consistently, offensively we just got to get back to having better at-bats.”

With the weekend rotation awaiting—including dominant freshman Mason Pelio—the Eagles are likely looking forward to a chance to welcome in another powerhouse in No. 3 North Carolina State. That said, if BC can’t play up to its potential and get more consistent pitching and less streaky offensive outputs, it’ll be in for rocky, up-and-down season.

Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor