I distinctly remember a game nine years ago in the Cape Cod League when I was broadcasting for Yarmouth-Dennis. The Y-D Red Sox took a 5-0 lead in the first inning against the then-Orleans Cardinals, chasing the starting pitcher from the game before he recorded three outs. I remember actually saying, on the air, that it was a nightmarish start for Orleans, who in bringing in a long reliever might be packing it in before the game ever really got started.
It taught me one of the first lessons about baseball - you have to play all nine innings. Since there's no time limit, there's no exploding 00:00 on when a team can no longer have a comeback. As long as there's outs left to be played, that team has a chance at a comeback. I was retaught that lesson last weekend by Florida State.
So forgive me yesterday when I thought to myself that Boston College was about to lose to three-win UMass after giving up five run third and falling behind 6-2. After all, I'd forgotten the cardinal rule of baseball - it ain't over till it's over.
The Eagles scored over the course of the next four innings to rally from down 6-2 and take a 7-6 lead. Behind the stabilizing pitching of Bobby Skogsbergh, BC shut the door on Amherst in picking up their ninth win of the year. The Eagles also won their second game in a row over local competition, making me feel a heckuva lot better after last week's debacle against Northeastern.
I'll try to stabilize my up-and-down feelings over the past week with some stats before this week's over, but in the meantime, let's talk about what Blogfather Brian Favat called The New Guy Cup.
UMass took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning off starter Justin Dunn. Dunn, who made his first career start in the process, walked Nik Campero to lead off the inning. Campero got himself to third by stealing second and advancing on a passed ball, then scored when Nick Sanford singled him in three batters later. Eric Stevens relieved Dunn, who is normally out of the bullpen, and retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.
The Eagles responded in the bottom of the frame to take a 2-1 lead. Starting pitcher Tim Cassidy walked Chris Shaw on four pitches to lead off the inning, and Joe Cronin singled him up a bag. Tom Bourdon laid down a sacrifice bunt that was scored 1-4, but it enabled both runners to advance to scoring position. That's when Stephen Sauter hit a two-out double down the left field line, scoring both runners and giving BC the one-run lead.
Stevens couldn't hold it, however. Coughing up five runs in the third, UMass took a commanding 6-2 lead even though the senior pitched through the entire inning. Kyle Adie led off with a first pitch double, moving up to third on a sacrifice bunt. After Stevens walked the next batter, Adie scored when Dylan Begin doubled to tie the game at 2-2.
Campero grounded out for the second out, but with runners on second and third, BC handed UMass a fourth out when the shortstop Cronin failed to field a grounder cleanly. That scored Mike Geannalis to make the game 3-2, and it moved Begin up to third. With runners on first and third, Adam Picard put the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for a three-run shot.
At this point, you'd have thought the game was essentially over.
Undaunted, BC responded with actual determination that belied their past experiences this season. They chipped away at the lead with run one in the bottom of the third. They manufactured a run after Gabriel Hernandez led off with a single. He stole second, advanced to third on a field by John Hennessy, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Shaw.
Down 6-3, they scored again in the fourth to claw back some more. Tom Bourdon singled to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a passed ball, then scored on an RBI double by Johnny Adams. They made the score 6-6 in the fifth on RBIs by Shaw and Bourdon, then took the lead in the sixth when they scored without getting a hit. Michael Strem walked, advanced to second on another walk, then advanced to third and scored on a throwing error.
From there, Bobby Skogsbergh went to work on the hill. He allowed just one hit in three innings of work, overpowering Minutemen hitters with with four stikeouts while not walking anyone. He picked up the win when John Nicklas worked a perfect ninth, striking out one on 12 pitches. It was Nicklas' first save of the year.
The Eagles now enjoy a couple of off days before entertaining North Carolina this weekend. While they're bound to be substantial underdogs against the Tar Heels, the two wins at least give them something to work positives off of after a month of losses.
Games this weekend are all set for afternoon baseball.