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North Dakota State 4, Boston College 2: Birdball Tagged With First Loss in '16

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Jacob Stevens pitched an absolute gem, but a no-hit bid by the pitching staff is spoiled as North Dakota State comes from behind to drop the first loss of 2016 on Birdball.

Courtesy Boston College Athletics

Jacob Stevens pitched an absolute gem of an outing, not allowing a hit through six innings and recording a career high nine strikeouts on Saturday afternoon against North Dakota State. He retired 18 of the 21 batters he faced, just three over the minimum, walking one and plunking two on 94 pitches.

But sometimes the sports gods just don't want to give you the win.

Bobby Skogsbergh kept the no-hit bid intact through seven, but he and Dan Metzdorf ran into problems in the eighth as the North Dakota State Bison scored four runs to take a 4-2 victory in the Snowbird Classic on Saturday afternoon. It's the first loss for BC on the young season, and it's a statement win for a Bison program that's turned around a disappointing 2015 season to start pistol hot in 2016.

Like Northwestern in the morning session, Boston College opened the game with a run before anything ever really got going. Jake Palomaki led off the game with a bunt single, advancing to second on a throwing error and third on a Johnny Adams groundout. He scored an unearned run when Michael Stream grounded out to third, staking BC to a 1-0 lead just three batters into the game.

That was it until the eighth.

Stevens and Bison starting pitcher Reid Pfannenstein were sterling through the rest of their outings. Stevens struck out the side in the second, K'd two more in the third, and would have at least one whiffle in each inning he pitched. Pfannenstein, who went five innings for North Dakota State, ran into a jam in the second but otherwise held the Eagles at bay throughout the remainder of his outing.

In that second innings, Joe Cronin led off with a single to center, advancing to second on an infield single by Chris Balogh. Steve Sauter hit a fly ball to right, allowing Cronin to move to third. But even with Gabe Hernandez walking to load the bases with two outs, an Anthony Maselli strikeout prior and a Palomaki fly out ended the threat without a run.

In the fifth, the Eagles had another chance when Palomaki walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a grounder by Adams. But with two outs, Strem struck out to end the threat there.

Bobby Skogsbergh entered the game in relief of Stevens, who threw 94 pitches through the first six, and retired the Bison in order in the seventh, keeping the no-hit bid intact. But it was the eighth inning where, with two outs, the Bison finally broke through.

After getting the firstout, Skogsbergh hit Sean Terres and allowed Taylor Sanders to single pinch runner Andy Wicklund into scoring positon. With runners on first and second, Skogsbergh rallied for a strikeout before Mike Gambino lifted him for lefty Dan Metzdorf.

Playing the percentages in a lefty-lefty matchup against Alec Abercrombie, the freshman drew a walk, loading the bases with two down. Metzdorf then walked in a run to tie the game at 1-1. That forced Gambino back to the mound, where he brought in John Witkowski. Witkowski faced Mason Pierzchalski, who doubled to right center to start the merry-go-round. Everyone scored, but Pierzchalski was thrown out at third. That ended the inning, but the Bison scored four, taking a 4-1 lead.

BC got a run back in the top of the ninth, causing headaches among the North Dakota State faithful. After Cronin struck out to begin the inning, Balogh drew an HBP and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Sauter singled to right, putting the runners at the corners, and Cronin scored on a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Mitch Bigras. Mike Gambino pinch hit for Hernandez with Gian Martellini, but the freshman flew out to left, ending the game and handing BC their first loss of 2016.

Skogsbergh (0-1) was tagged with the loss, charged with two runs on one hit in 1.2 innings thrown. Metzdorf gave up two runs on no hits, walking two while not recording his out. His runs came charged when Witkowski went 0.1 innings, giving up the double but not being charged with a run on the recorded third out of the inning.

Brian VanderWoude picked up the win for North Dakota State, improving to 3-0 on the season in pitching four innings of relief. He gave up one run on three hits.

The win improved a turnaround start to 2016 for the Bison, who won for the eighth time in 2016 (8-2). The loss dropped BC to 8-1, snapping their longest winning streak in eight years.

BC is back at it at 1 PM on Sunday when they take on Ohio State in Florida as part of the ongoing Snowbird Classic.