All season long, Boston College's freshmen pitching provided the team with good, solid depth in midweek outings. They weren't necessarily the most talented crop, but they knew how to cobble together good innings and keep the Eagles in a position to win.
On Wednesday, facing a Bryant team with 29 wins on the year, they simply didn't have it. As a result, the Bulldogs capitalized, scoring six runs in the first inning, then adding seven in the middle innings in an 18-6 blowout victory over the Eagles at Shea Field.
It was the most amount of runs allowed by a Boston College team since Miami scored 19 in a victory over Birdball in 2011.
"Bryant's a very good ballclub," said head coach Mike Gambino, "but I guess it's one of the things that you deal with when you throw a bunch of freshmen out there. The freshmen did a great job for us last week (against Northeastern), but they were just different guys today."
The starter in last week's Beanpot victory over the Huskies, Thomas Lane lasted just one out into the first inning after surrendering four runs. After Cole Fabio led off the game with a single, Lane walked Nick Angelini, then advanced Fabio to scoring position with a wild pitch. That set up back-to-back-to-back RBI at-bats as Robby Rinn doubled to left center to score Fabio, Matt Albanese reached via an error by Johnny Adams to score Angelini, and Buck McCarthy singled on the first pitch he saw to score Rinn.
Down 3-0, Lane surrendered a sacrifice bunt to Brandon Bingel, but Zach Wood singled through the right side, putting the Bulldogs up 4-0 and drawing Gambino for his first summons to the bullpen.
In came Zach Stromberg, but the hits kept coming. Dan Cellucci singled to right center, scoring McCarthy, and Malik Daley hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Wood. With the Bulldogs batting around, Fabio flew out to end the inning, but there was severe damage already done. Bryant amassed five hits but left just one man on base, scoring six runs and taking a 6-0 lead.
BC had a chance to really do some damage against Craig Lacey in the bottom of the first, but a double play limited their impact to just one run. Jake Palomaki worked a four-pitch walk to lead off the inning, and Nick Sciortino singled to center, putting two on with nobody out. But Lacey induced a double play, moving Palomaki to third but putting two outs on the board. Even though Joe Cronin singled the run home, its impact was limited by the 4-6-3, and Gian Martellini struck out swinging to end the inning.
Even though the Bulldogs added two in the top of the inning, BC actually pulled closer by the time the second inning ended. Trailing 8-3 after a two-RBI double that chased Stromberg for Jack Nelson, BC came to the bat in the bottom of the inning and struck for four. They loaded the bases with nobody out after a Johnny Adams double, a Scott Braren walk, and an HBP to Logan Hoggarth, then received three straight RBI plate appearances against reliever Ross Weiner, who entered the game for Lacey, cutting the lead to 8-4.
But the fourth inning proved fatal. With Nelson still pitching for the Eagles, a one-out double by Albanese and an RBI single to center by McCarthy made it 9-4. Following a couple of more base hits, Gambino pulled Nelson for Sean Hughes, who walked both Cellucci and Dailey to bring in two runs. Now at 11-4, John Witkowski came into the game, allowed an RBI sacrifice fly to Fabio (12-4) but got out of the inning thanks to his defense. With two outs, Angelini singled to left center. Cellucci rounded third and Daley rounded second, but instead of throwing home, Michael Strem threw to third. He gunned down Cellucci before Daley scored, limiting the damage and ending the inning.
In the sixth, however, Bryant blew the game open with three more runs. Dan Metzdorf started the inning, and after Wood singled, Cellucci hit one to Adams at short that was booted, putting two runs on. Metzdorf rallied to strike out Daley, but a tailor made double play ball wound being thrown by Jake Palomaki past the first baseman, scoring Wood. Two batters later, after Metzdorf hit Angelini, Rinn doubled to center, bringing home two more. That made it 15-4, putting the game out of reach.
Angelini homered off of Carmen Giampetruzzi in the eighth, and Wood added a two-RBI double to round out the scoring for the Bulldogs. BC would add two more in the bottom of the ninth, but it was of little consolation to the final score's brunt.
"These are guys that will do good things for us and have done great things already. Thomas Lane is going to do great things for us, but he just didn't have it (on Wednesday)," said Gambino. "Zach Stromberg is going to be very good, but he just didn't have it either. Dan Metzdorf had some bad luck and had to get four or five outs in his inning. Jack Nelson was going along great until he hurt himself in that last winning, and Sean Hughes maybe wasn't that good in this game but was very good last week. Unfortunately, it's what freshmen sometimes do."
The game's outcome seemed an inevitability in the fifth, when BC had a golden chance to claw back into the game but missed a chance. Facing reliever Logan Lessard, Nick Sciortino singled to start the inning, then advanced to third when Michael Strem doubled to left center. Oliver Powers entered the game and walked Joe Cronin to load the bases with nobody out, but he book-ended two strikeouts, whiffing Martellini and Scott Braren on high fastballs and inducing a pop up to right by Adams to negate the threat.
"We had a golden chance in the fifth with the bases and nobody out," said Gambino, "and the game really swung on that one right there."
Despite the overall negative feel to the game, there were positives to take away. "We're not happy with what happened out there," said Gambino, "but we'll learn from it, we'll regroup, and we'll get back to the way we want to play. We didn't play tremendously well on defense, but we had pretty good at-bats. But we didn't pitch great and played okay defense, and we're a team built on pitching and defense. If we're not pitching it, we're not going to have a great day on defense."
As the game started to slip away, Gambino went to his bench for a couple of different players, and there were extra positives to see. Nick Sciortino went 2-3 at the dish, and Gian Martellini added a couple of base hits. But the offensive breakout of the day went to Jake Alu, who pinch hit for Joe Cronin and promptly recorded his first two career hits, going 2-2 with a run scored.
"You see some of the other guys, like Jake Alu who comes off the bench and adds a couple of hits," said Gambino. "That's good to see. And honestly, Bryant did open up the game late, but our guys kept banging and banging until it got away. But there were some encouraging things offensively."
On the mound, Thomas Lane (1-2) absorbed the loss. For Bryant, the win went to Ross Weiner (1-1), awarded the win under a weird college baseball rule. If a team does not surrender the lead but the starting pitcher does not last five innings (and is not announced to be going less than five innings), the win is awarded to the player deemed to have the most significant influence on his team's victory. After entering the game in the second, Weiner lasted two innings, allowing two hits but not being charged with a run.
At the dish for the Bulldogs, Zach Wood had a monster day, going 5-6 with five RBI and three runs scored. Both Albanese and McCarthy scored four runs, with Rinn adding three RBI. In all, every starter for the Bulldogs recorded at least one hit, save for Malik Daley. But Daley had two RBI. Every starter for the Bulldogs recorded at least one RBI.
The Eagles (21-16) will now turn their attention to the weekend, where they will host Virginia Tech for three games. Bryant (30-7) won 30 games for the first time in two years, will play a key four game series against Sacred Heart at home in Smithfield.