There's an old adage in baseball that the team able to win the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings often is the team that wins the game.
Down 5-0 after the second inning and 6-2 after the sixth, BC rallied for six runs across the final three innings and overcame the Santa Clara Broncos at Schott Stadium on Sunday afternoon in California to win 8-6. BC finishes their weekend with a 3-1 record with a quick turnaround this week before heading back on the road next week.
Santa Clara scored one in the bottom of the first off starter Jeff Burke. Greg Harisis doubled to left and was sacrificed over to third. Zach Looney then hit him home with an RBI single before Burke got out of the inning.
Burke wasn't so lucky in the second, though. The Broncos got three singles to load the bases with nobody out before Burke beaned Seaver Whalen to bring home the first run of the frame. He then delivered a wild pitch that scored the second run while moving the other runners up to second and third. With two on and still nobody out, Harisis reached on an infield single to third to reload the bases. Rory Graf-Brennen grounded to Blake Butera, who retired Harisis at second for the first out but couldn't prevent another run from scoring. With the inning threatening to get out of control, the Broncos continued to manufacture runs when Looney laid down a perfect drag bunt to score another run. Burke got out of the inning with a double play, but he incurred substantial damage.
Down 5-0 into the 4th, BC finally got their offense going in a big way. John Hennessy walked before Chris Shaw blasted the team's first long ball of the season with one out. BC would be retired the rest of the way, but the two run blast cut the lead to 5-2.
BC was forced to go deep into their bullpen after Burke's struggles to open up the game, although Jesse Adams and Michael Strem stemmed the bleeding into the later innings. Strem gave up a run in the bottom of the 6th to make the game 6-2, but the duo was able to stem the Broncos' momentum after a big first couple of innings.
That set the stage for late inning drama. In the seventh inning, Steven Sauter walked with one out, then advanced to second when Nick Colucci singled to right. A wild pitch moved them to second and third before Joe Cronin grounded to short to score Sauter. Colucci was left at second on the grounder, but Tom Bourdon, returning to form after being injured last season, destroyed a pitch up the middle that allowed Colucci to score.
With the lead cut to 6-4, head coach Mike Gambino brought in touted freshman Bobby Skogsbergh for his first work of the season. Skogsbergh got a perfect 1-2-3 seventh inning, allowing BC to come to the plate with a chance to tie it in the 8th. With five outs left of their baseball lives for the night, Shaw delivered again, doubling the opposite way to left-center and scoring when Sauter singled him home.
With Santa Clara reeling, Skogsbergh allowed a leadoff hit to Jose Vizcaino, Jr. before inducing a double play to Whalen and grounding Harisis to second.
Their lead cut to one, the Broncos had turned to pitcher Max Deering with two outs in the 8th. Taking the mound for the four-out save, he failed to close the door on the resilient Birdballers. Cronin led off with a single and Butera doubled to put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with nobody out. That chased Deering from the game in favor of Reece Karalus, but Bourdon drilled a pitch to left-center field to score Cronin and tie the game. That tie game lasted all of one batter, as Hennessy plated the eventual game-winning run with a sacrifice fly. Shaw delivered a third time with a sacrifice fly that scored Bourdon, giving BC an insurance run.
Sophomore John Nicklas struck out two in the bottom of the ninth to close the door, pick up the save, and send the Eagles home with a 3-1 record.
It was a big day for BC, who saw their team deliver breakout performances. Shaw went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI, including the two-run blast early in the game. Bourdon went 2-for-5 with a run scored, driving in two. Both Sauter and Cronin delivered with RBI, Cronin taking over later in the game for Gabriel Hernandez, who started at third.
On the bump, Burke surrendered seven hits and five runs over three innings, but his bullpen delivered in a big way. Adams threw one inning of one-hit ball, and Strem gave the Eagles yeoman's work in two innings. Skogsbergh faced the minimum over two innings of the work, and Nicklas picked up the first save for an Eagle pitcher this season. The win went to Skogsbergh in his first collegiate appearance.
BC (3-1) now comes home for a few days before heading right back on the road for their season-starting road trip. They'll head to Deland, Florida next weekend for a three-game series with Stetson before taking on the Boston Red Sox in their annual exhibition in Fort Myers. BC's next 12 games are all in the Sunshine State with the Snowbird Classic on the back end of the Red Sox game and series on the way against Florida Atlantic and Miami.