A week removed from snow pushing back Boston College baseball’s home opener at newly constructed Brighton Field, the Eagles finally opened up the ballpark on Tuesday afternoon against Northeastern. And as a way of apologizing for the postponement of a much-anticipated day, the baseball gods seemed to decide, “let’s play two.”
The result was an 18-inning marathon, spanning five hours and 24 minutes, stretching deep into the evening, more than long enough for the lights—a new thing for fans of BC baseball—to turn on. Unfortunately for the Eagles, a three-run frame from the Huskies would send them home with a disappointing 7-4 loss.
Northeastern (11-5) right fielder Charlie McConnell, who led the way with a 5-for-9 day from the leadoff spot, opened the 18th against BC (7-11, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) reliever Matt Gill. Cam Walsh, who entered the decisive frame a woeful 0-for-7, singled through the left side for what would be the game-winning run.
Gill gave up two more runs, the first on an RBI single to Ryan Solomon and the second via a double steal. The Eagles would go on to load the bases in the bottom of the frame against Huskies reliever David Stiehl, who pitched four scoreless innings.
Back-to-back singles from Jake Alu and Chris Galland with one out sparked hope that the game would just continue to roll on, but a fielder’s choice from Jack Cunningham pushed BC to the brink. After Stiehl walked Brian Dempsey, Anthony Maselli—hitless in his 18 previous at bats on the year—had a chance to come through in the clutch and erase his sluggish start.
He didn’t, finishing 0-for-3 on the night as he flew out to left field on a 1-1 pitch. The loss was tough, but the blow was lessened by the fact that it came down to the wire against a tough Northeastern squad that entered the day ranked in the top-10 of RPI and that the new field was everything it was chalked up to be.
“That was tough, but I think we battled every pitch and every inning,” senior shortstop Jake Palomaki told BCEagles.com. “It’s great to be on the new field. It’s been a long time coming and everyone did a great job on it.”
Northeastern built an early 1-0 lead through the first three innings, the product of an unearned run—Nolan Lang reached on an error and McConnell singled to right-center. Eagles starter Jack Nelson left after three innings of work, beginning the parade of seven different pitchers.
BC tied the game up in the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Gian Martellini after Palomaki doubled and reached third following a collision in the outfield. That sparked a back-and-forth swing over the next two-plus innings, setting the stage for a lengthy standstill.
The Huskies scored twice off of Eagles righty John Witkowski in the fifth, as Jake Farrell singled in a run, then came around and scored later off of a groundout from Zach Perry. BC managed to tie it up over the next two innings, again, getting a run off both starter Brian Christian and Andrew Misiaszek. Jack Cunningham had an RBI double, and then Alu knocked a single up the middle.
The tie would last until the 14th, as the Eagles’ best chance—two runners on in the bottom of the ninth—was squandered. Northeastern took a one-run lead on the strength of a RBI single from Ian Fair, but fittingly, the edge wouldn’t last. BC rallied, with Cunningham reaching on a single, then moving to third via a Dempsey bunt and Maselli groundout. Palomaki came through in the clutch, blooping the game-tying single to extend the game an extra four innings.
Ultimately, the Huskies’ bullpen outmatched BC’s. Kyle Murphy gave up the lone run in the 14th but was otherwise methodical, working five important innings and striking out four, while Stiehl had his share of trouble but didn’t allow a run. The Eagles got a stellar effort from freshman Will Hesslink, who struck out four and didn’t allow a run over four and a third, but Walsh and Gill both cracked down the stretch.
The loss, with BC playing the equivalent of two games in one day, is a tough pill to swallow. Opening up a new ballpark with the usual pomp and circumstance only to lose to a nearby rival is also far from ideal. Still, there should be plenty of optimism around future wins at Brighton—Palomaki has reached base in 13-straight games, Nelson and Hesslink pitched solid innings, Galland has been a gem of a freshman—the list goes on.
There’s a lot of potential and talent surrounding the Eagles, it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together. They soon head into the brunt of their ACC schedule, starting with a three-game set against Virginia Tech at home.
Featured Image by Lucas Bissoli / Heights Staff