A day designed to tug at a human's emotions started out by sending them on an absolute rollercoaster.
Up 7-1 to start the eighth inning, Boston College had been rolling against Wake Forest. Justin Dunn had thrown 99 pitches against one of the nation's most feared lineups, holding them to just five hits. Over the previous two and a half hours or so, the game moved at a brisk pace, and it looked like a banner day celebrating Pete Frates would begin with a dominant victory.
Then the eighth inning happened.
It started innocently enough. Will Craig, quiet until that point, led off with a double to left center, but Gavin Sheets and Kevin Conway flew out and struck out, respectively, for two outs. Even with Ben Breazeale striding to the plate, it looked more like a foregone conclusion that the Demon Deacons were on their way down.
Then the skies opened up and the rains came in sheets. Nicklas walked Breazeale, and Johnny Aiello hit the first pitch he saw into left for an RBI double. After back-to-back walks to Jonathan Pryor and Joey Rodriguez, another run scored, and a 7-1 game was all of a sudden in shouting distance at 7-3 with slugger Nate Mondou coming to the plate.
Mike Gambino summoned Bobby Skogsbergh from the bullpen, and as the rain intensified, the hope was just a single ground ball anywhere would end the threat. But Skogsbergh's first pitch was left a little up and a little in to Mondou, and the lefty slugger got a good look at it. He crushed it to right, beyond the scoreboard, tying the game with a grand slam at 7-7 as the team batted around the order.
That was just the beginning.
BC scored in the bottom of the eighth, only to watch that lead evaporate with the rains in the top of the ninth. In the eighth, Jake Palomaki singled through the right side, and Michael Strem launched a fly ball to the deepest part of the ballpark to score him with a triple, giving the Eagles an 8-7 lead.
But in the ninth, Craig walked to lead things off, and after Gavin Sheets singled over pinch runner Drew Freedman, BC attempted a pick off move that came back to haunt them. A snap throw from Nick Sciortino down to second attempted to catch Freedman too far off the bag, but the catcher airmailed it into center. With Freedmanon third, Conway singled, scoring the runner to tie the game.
With runners at the corners and nobody out, Wake nearly took the lead. Breazeale grounded one through the right side, but Jake Palomaki dove to make an incredible play. He came up firing to home as Sheets took off from third, only to find Sciortino waiting to make the tag for the first out. With runners on first and second still, Aiello lined into a double play at first as Mitch Bigras made the catch then won a foot race to the base.
The game almost nearly got to the extra innings mark. After Johnny Adams doubled to center with one out, Logan Hoggarth singled to right field. Adams made the turn and broke for home, but Rodriguez's throw was on the mark, one-hopping up the line. Breazeale made an incredible tag reaching back across his body as Adams dove home, getting the runner for the second out. After pinch hitter Chris Balogh grounded out, the game headed for extra innings.
That's where it ended. In the bottom of the inning, Gabe Hernandez led off with a double to right, then advanced to third on a pitchout throw that was too high and outside. After Palomaki walked, Nick Sciortino grounded to short, but Aiello's throw was way off line, scoring Hernandez and sending Shea Field into a frenzy.
It probably shouldn't have gotten to that point. BC opened up a 5-0 lead through the first three innings as Dunn cruised. Wake Forest starter Drew Loepprich battled control issues, resulting in a number of Eagles runs. In the second, two walks to Joe Cronin and Scott Braren led to a Johnny Adams double to left that made it 1-0. Two batters later, Mitch Bigras grounded just past the mound, and Craig made a charging grab-and-throw to first that scored Braren.
The Eagles added three more in the third. After Palomaki led off with a single, Strem stroked a double to left that scored him from first. After Loepprich beaned Nick Sciortino, he was replaced by John McCarren. Scott Braren and Johnny Adams then recorded RBI of the inherited runners,with Braren singling to second and Adams reaching via a fielding error by Craig at third when he was gobbled up by a grounder.
Mondou got Wake on the board in the fifth with an RBI single, but Hernandez doubled home Hoggarth in the sixth to get the run back for the Eagles. Aaron Fossas gave up a run for Wake Forest in the seventh when he hit Sciortino with a pitch, and Adams singled him home two batters later.
The wild ending overshadowed the original storyline, which saw Justin Dunn dominate on the hill. He allowed just five hits, throwing 99 pitches and staying within the 93-95 mph range on his fastball. His changeup and slider remained in the high 80s as he surgically carved through one of the most powerful lineups in the nation. He walked three, but he struck out four and allowed only the one run. No less than 15 scouts were in attendance to watch and chart Dunn, and as one put it after the game, "If he wasn't a first round pick before today, he is now."
Nicklas threw 0.2 innings, charged with five runs. Three inherited runners were allowed in by Bobby Skogsbergh, who wound up with only two runs allowed after the grand slam and ninth inning comeback. Jesse Adams (5-4) picked up the win by pitching the 10th.
For Wake Forest, Loepprich lasted only two complete, charged with five runs on three hits, two walks and a strikeout. McCarren steadied the staff after the outing, going 3.2 innings and giving up only one run on six hits. Chris Farish, Fossas, and Ryan Morse combined for the next 1.1 innings, and Donnie Sellers (4-3) took the loss by throwing the final 2.1 for the Deacs.
At the dish, Johnny Adams went 3-for-5 for the Eagles with three RBI, and Strem went 2-for-6 with two RBI and a run scored. Jake Palomaki and Gabe Hernandez added multi-hit games with three and two, respectively.
For the Deacons, Mondou went 3-for-5 with five RBI, including the grand slam, while the rest of the offense remained relatively quiet. Rodriguez, Conway, and Aiello all recorded RBI.
With the win, BC improved to 26-18 (10-14 ACC), while Wake Forest fell to 28-18 (11-12 ACC).