All season long, the Achilles' heel for the Boston College baseball team has been an inability to drive men in from scoring position. They've stranded runners in almost every conceivable fashion, but only a couple of times has it truly cost them a victory.
A night after taking Florida Atlantic to the brink in 11 innings, Birdball stranded 15 men in a 6-2 defeat to the Owls in their second game at the FAU Baseball Stadium in Boca Raton. The Eagles left bases loaded in both the seventh and eighth innings, stranding runners in all but two frames.
FAU wasted no time in getting to BC starter Eric Stone. After BC left two men on in the first, the Owls scored their first run in the bottom of the inning. Stephen Kerr doubled to right center and advanced to third when Tyler Rocklein singled him over. He scored on a sacrifice fly. Rocklein himself would advance to third, but he was stranded when Sean Labsan popped out.
BC got the run back by tying it up in the top of the second off FAU starter Brandon Rhodes. Joe Cronin singled through the left side and advanced to second when Tom Bourdon walked. He scored when Steve Sauter singled to center with one out. Bourdon advanced to second, but he was stranded when Gabriel Hernandez grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.
The game remained 1-1 into the third, when the Owls struck again, this time with two outs. Kerr doubled down the right field line and scored when Rocklein singled up the middle. Rocklein found himself stranded again on third, but the quick hitting Owls struck like lightning to go up 2-1.
BC had a chance o in the fourth to tie things up, but they left the bases loaded for the first time in the game. Bourdon led things off with a single, then advanced to second on a one out single to the hole on the left side. After Hernandez flew out to left, Hennessy walked to load the bases. But Blake Butera struck out swinging to strand the bags full of Eagles.
Stone retired the Owls in order in the bottom of the fourth, but BC again left men on in the fifth. Chris Shaw led off the inning with a single to extend his season-starting hitting streak to 11 games. FAU summoned Jimmy Tornabene to relieve Rhodes after the hit, and he promptly surrendered a single to Hoggarth up the middle. But Cronin struck out and Bourdon grounded into a Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance double play, executing baseball's sad lexicon to end the threat.
The missed opportunities led to the Owls extending their lead. Mike Gambino subbed Eric Stevens for Stone to start the top of the fifth, and while he got the first out via strikeout, Brendon Sanger singled, then stole second, to put a man in scoring position. He advanced to third when Kerr fouled out to first and scored when Rocklein drove him in with a double down the left field line.
They got another in the sixth off Stevens and reliever Steve Green. Labsan walked to lead things off, then was pinch run for by Jose Bonilla Traverso. Bonilla advanced to third on a stolen base plus error by the catcher Sauter. That summoned Green out of the pen to relieve Stevens, and the Eagle hopes for getting out of the jam were buoyed by a strikout for the second out. But CJ Chatham singled to left before he could get the third out and the run, charged to Stevens, crossed the plate.
BC did get a run back in the seventh, but they were never able to create a big inning. Hennessy and Butera led off the innings with back-to-back innings. Shaw then grounded to second, but Kerr's throw on the double play went off line, bringing Hennessy across the dish. Hoggarth and Cronin loaded the bases with walks, but Bourdon grounded into a 3-2 fielder's choice that retired Shaw at home, and Ferrick grounded out to third to end the threat.
FAU did score another run in the seventh off reliever Mike Strem to make it 5-2, then added another in the eighth to take a 6-2 lead. BC did get the bases loaded in the eighth, but they went down in order in the ninth to end the game.
On the hill, Stone lasted four innings, striking out three and not walking any despite giving up two runs on five hits. He absorbed the loss and fell to 0-1 on the season. Stevens struck out three and gave up two runs on two hits over the next inning and a third, while Green allowed an inherited runner to score while throwing two-thirds of an innings. Overall, the Eagles used six pitchers as Strem, Bobby Skogsbergh, and Nick Poore combined to give up two runs over the final two innings.
For FAU, Tornabene started the fifth and therefore picked up the win since starter Brandon Rhodes only went four frames. BC put 11 hits up on the FAU pitchers, but Reily Monkman threw the last 1.1 innings and struck out two to pick up his first save of the year.
At the plate, Butera went 3-for-4 but struck out with the bases loaded and didn't register an RBI or run scored as a result. Hennessy went 2-for-3 with a run scored, and both Shaw and Hoggarth extended their respective hitting streaks. FAU's Tyler Rocklein went 3-for-3 with 2 RBIs, while Stephen Kerr added two hits, two runs scored and an RBI. Brendon Sanger went 2-for-5 with a couple of runs scored.
BC dropped to .500 with the loss, now at 6-6, while FAU improved to 10-3. The Eagles have a day off but will make the hour drive south from Boca Raton to Coral Gables for their first ACC weekend series with the Miami Hurricanes. Friday and Saturday's games will be under the lights at 7 PM with Sunday's at 1 PM for getaway purposes.