My old baseball coach used to tell me about how he hated playing on the edge. He hated watching us blow a lead only to pick up a win because it was the most frustrating feeling in the world. He hated how the high and feeling of comfort from a five or six run lead evaporates into an internal feeling of panic, regardless of who is coaching or playing. But he always said he knew those games were the most necessary once or twice a season because they made a team hunt for ways to overcome defeat. "If you want to be a good team," he said, "you need to win games you really lost. And if you're not challenged in those scenarios, you never really know if you're that good of a team."
Boston College baseball used a four-run first to jump out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the fourth. But they watched that lead slowly evaporate as the Villanova Wildcats chipped away at it. Giving up the game-tying runs in the bottom of the ninth and even surrendering what appeared to be a walkoff win, Loggan Hoggarth singled off Matt Meuer with a full count and two-out to drive in the game-winning run in the 11th, and the Eagles improved to 6-3 on the season.
BC jumped on board early with a big first inning. Facing Nova starter Max Almonte, the first four Eagle hitters reached base before the Wildcats recorded an out. Joe Cronin led off the game with a single, moving to third when Tom Bourdon doubled to left. Blake Butera singled up the middle, scoring Cronin on the third batter of the game to make the score 1-0. Chris Shaw, hitting cleanup, also singled to score Bourdon and extend his hitting streak to every game this season at nine.
John Hennessy then grounded to third, scoring Butera. But Shaw used heads up base running to take off from second to third and advance two bases and get 90 feet from scoring position. That allowed him to score easily when Johnny Adams came through with the team's fifth hit of the evening. Logan Hoggarth grounded to second baseman Todd Czinge, who tagged Adams and threw to first to retire the 4-3 double play. On the inning, BC scored four runs on five hits with no errors, and, perhaps most key - no runners left on base.
The onslaught continued in the third as BC talled a fifth run. Bourdon singled on a hit back through the box, and Shaw added a second hit. With two outs, Adams walked to load the bases, and Bourdon came home on a passed ball. Shaw and Adams were stranded on base, but BC scored a fifth run to make things more secure in their favor. They would add a sixth run in the fourth on a Butera RBI single.
That's when things started to get interesting. Starting pitcher Andrew Chin opened the inning by hitting leadoff man Mike Mecca. Czinge then reached on a fielder's choice, as Mecca reached second safely on a throwing error by the second baseman Butera. Kevin Jewitt singled to load the bases with nobody out, and Mecca scored on a wild pitch. After Connor Jones reloaded the bases with a walk, Chin got the first out via a strikeout. But with one out, Czinge scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Max Beerman. Chin got the third out of the inning to get out of major damage.
Villanova continued to threaten, but they stranded the bases loaded in the sixth. They did, however, get two more runs in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 6-4. Luke Fernandes was brought into pitch for Chin to start the frame, retiring the first batter. Emmanuel Morris and Czinge then singled to put runners on first and second for Kevin Jewitt with two outs. He singled to score Morris, and Jones plated Czinge with a single of his own to cut the lead to two.
That set the stage for late inning drama. BC moved to the bullpen to Mike King in the eighth and he responded with a 1-2-3 inning. But King struggled to close out the game as head coach Mike Gambino stuck with his freshman. He walked Morris to lead off the inning, then retired Mecca with a pop out to second. But on the pop-up, Blake Butera attempted to catch MOrris napping off the bag and threw the ball away, advancing the runner to scoring position. After King walked Czinge, Gambino went to the bullpen for Mike Strem.
Strem failed to record an out. Jewitt doubled to right center to score Morris, making the score 6-5 and putting the tying run on third with just one out. Calling for a double play scenario with one out and first base open, Strem intentionally walked Jones. Nova brought up a pinch hitter in BJ Bochicchio, forcing Gambino to go to his bullpen once again for John Nicklas. Nicklas induced a fly ball to right, but Hoggarth failed to catch it, bringing the tying run home from third. Jewitt advanced to third to put the winning run 90 feet away. BC finally got out of the frame, though, when Beerman hit a shallow fly to center. Jewitt scored, but Boston College noticed the runners didn't tag their respective bags in the ensuing celebration. So they touched second and third for two outs, ending the inning without the tying run being scored. It resulted in your typical 4-8-2-5-3 double play and the game went to extras.
Villanova had a chance to end the game in the 10th but another base running gaffe cost them. The Eagles turned to Eric Stone in the inning, who promptly walked the first two hitters. That prompted Gambino to the mound again, this time for Bobby Skogsbergh. Skogsbergh got Morris to ground back to the box, retiring the lead runner at third on a 1-5 fielder's choice put out, and he got Mecca to ground into a 5-3 double play to end the inning still tied.
In the 11th, Logan Hoggarth atoned for his earlier sins by hitting the game-winning RBI. Shaw led off the inning by reaching on an error, and Gambino sent in Gabriel Hernandez to pinch run. Hennessy sacrificed him over to second, and with one out, Hoggarth singled through the right, sending Hernandez home from second. Skogsbergh went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning for the win and the Eagles' second win in the Snowbird Classic down in Port Charlotte, Florida.
On the hill, the Eagles used seven pitchers. Starter Andrew Chin went six innings, giving up two runs on three hits, striking out five and only walking one. He induced 11 outs via flyball, but he did hit two batsmen and delivered a wild pitch. Skogsbergh threw two innings in relief to pick up his second win of the season. For the hitters, Shaw went 3-for-6 to extend that aforementioned hit streak to nine games. Bourdon also went 3-for-6 with two runs scored, and Blake Butera went 2-for-5 with a couple of RBI on the day. All Eagle hitters, including pinch hitter Travis Ferrick, recorded a hit with the exception of Hennessy, but the first baseman delivered an RBI via sacrifice for BC.
For Nova, eight pitchers went to the hill, and starter Max Amonte lasted just 3.2 innings. Meurer pitched very well in relief though, going the last 3.1 into extras and giving up just the one run, which was unearned. Kagan Richardson also pitched well in relief with a full inning, and Donovan Armas threw 1.2 as well. At the dish, Todd Czinge went 2-for-5 with three runs scored, and Kevin Jewitt hit an impressive 4-for-6. Emmanuel Morris scored two runs.
The Eagles play their final game of the Snowbird Classic on Sunday when they take on Western Michigan at 3 PM. From there, they'll remain in Florida for a Tuesday/Wednesday series with Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton before opening up ACC play in Coral Gables against 19th-ranked Miami.
Link to postgame reaction from the BC baseball YouTube is below:
Eagles Beat Villanova In Extras (via Bird Ball)