For the first time in some time, the Boston College baseball team played a game on the last weekend of the season that actually meant something. Heading to Clemson to finish the 2014 season, they had a statistical probability of getting into the ACC Tournament if everything broke the right way.
Then it didn't.
Clemson opened up a 6-1 lead by the fourth inning and never looked back, and a Chris Shaw eighth inning homer was all for naught as the Tigers opened their three game series with BC with an 8-4 victory. The loss all but eliminated the Eagles from postseason contention, who are a couple of games away from their fourth consecutive ACC Tournament at home.
The Eagles came out blazes firing, staking John Gorman to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Blake Butera grounded in Joe Cronin. But Clemson scored the next three runs over the next two innings, including two homers. Tyler Krieger hit one out of right center to tie the game two batters into the home half of the first, and after the Tigers took a 2-1 lead, Jay Baum homered to lead off the second.
Gorman started the third by striking out Krieger, but catcher Nick Sciortino dropped the third strike and threw the ensuing ball away. Steven Duggan, who scored the go-ahead run in the first, walked to set up a force play, but Steve Wilkerson doubled in Krieger, and Garrett Boulware hit a sacrifice fly to extend the Tiger lead to 5-1. Wilkerson, who advanced to third on Boulware's sac fly, scored when Baum flied to right to give Clemson a 6-1 advantage.
That closed the book on Gorman, who got out of the inning but didn't start the fourth. His final line included six runs, four of which were earned, on five hits. He gave up the two homers, struck out three, walked two, and delivered one wild pitch (which resulted in Duggan's first inning run). He gave way to Tyler Hinchcliffe, who gave up a run on an RBI single by Krieger in the fourth to make it 7-1, but "Cheese" hung in for the next three innings, settling down and stopping the bleeding as best as he could. But Duggan hit the third Clemson homer in the seventh to make it 8-1.
BC responded with a homer of their own in the eighth, when Chris Shaw drove in Johnny Adams and Blake Butera off reliever Garrett Lovorn. But Clay Bates closed out the game after allowing a couple of base runners to end the threat.
The Eagles got a mult-hit game out of Shaw, who went 2-for-4, but they mustered only nine hits against Clemson pitching. Matt Crownover picked his seventh win of the season as the sophomore continued a resurgent career that started with Tommy John surgery in 2012. The Freshman All-American in 2013 went seven innings, scattering six hits and allowing just the one run, which was not earned. He did not walk anyone and struck out five.
The loss dropped BC to 21-32 overall, 9-19 in ACC play. It also all but eliminated the Eagles from contention for an ACC playoff berth. BC can still finish in a four-way tie with Virginia Tech (my previous math was wrong), NC State, and PIttsburgh if the Hokies sweep the Pack Nine and the Panthers lose three straight to Notre Dame. They would then need the right statistical combination of wins to win out any and all tie breakers, most of which are nearly impossible to fathom. So it is all but assured that the Eagles will spend their fourth consecutive year under Mike Gambino home for the conference tournament. A loss on Friday night coupled with a win by NC State or a Pitt victory would mathematically eliminate the Birds and officially begin the offseason next week.
The two teams will battle again on Friday night at 6:30 PM on ESPN3.