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Birdball Midweek Recap - UMass

The Eagles pounded the Minutemen on Wednesday, 13-1, as Donovan Casey hits for the cycle.

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On Wednesday, poor field conditions forced the Boston College baseball team to move their home opener versus UMass from Shea Field to the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough, Massachusetts. The drive west must’ve angered the BC bats, because they took their frustration out on the Minutemen pitching staff en route to a 13-1 beat-down. Let’s take a closer look on how this game shook out:

Tuesday: Boston College 13 UMass 1:

Sophomore right hander Jack Nelson turned in another stellar outing for the Eagles on Wednesday, starting the game and throwing four innings of no-hit, shutout baseball while striking out three. He was relieved by Zach Stromberg in the fifth, who, with help from four other BC pitchers, proceeded to hold the Minutemen to a single run. While the pitching against UMass was great, the story of the day was the Eagles’ offensive explosion.

The Boston College scoring started in the first inning after leadoff batter Donovan Casey tripled on the second pitch he saw. The bases were then loaded in the next two at bats as Johnny Adams was hit by a pitch and Michael Strem walked. After two consecutive strike outs, sophomore Jake Alu came through with an RBI double to score two BC runners. Alu, however, over-slid the bag at second and was tagged out to end the inning. After a quiet second inning, the Eagles erupted in the bottom of the third as Casey again led off the inning, this time with a towering homerun to left field, to give BC a 3-0 lead. After Adams struck out swinging, Strem was again walked to put a runner on first with one out. The next batter, catcher Gian Martellini, sent a 1-1 offering from UMass starter Connor Donahue over the left centerfield fence for a two-run shot, pushing the Eagles lead to five. Later in the inning, after two walks and a strike out, Anthony Maselli laced a double to right field, plating two runners and making the score 7-0 in favor of the Eagles. After another shutdown inning from Nelson, the Eagles were back at it again in the fourth. This time, after Casey again led off with a base hit, it was Strem who came through with the big knock, doubling to deep centerfield, scoring Casey from first. After the next batter walked, junior Mitch Bigras singled to centerfield, scoring Strem from second, making the score 9-0 in favor of the “home” team. Alu rounded out the scoring in the fourth with a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Martellini, who had walked, from third to give Boston College a double digit lead. BC added a run in the fifth, as Casey led off the inning with a double, giving him the cycle in his first four at bats of the day. After a walk and a passed ball, Strem hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Casey, giving BC an 11-run advantage. After the Minutemen got a run a back in the 6th on a solo homerun, the Eagles answered and ended their scoring with two more in the bottom of the frame on a pinch-hit RBI single from Chris Balogh, and a bases loaded walk to Michael Strem to make the score 13-1.

On a day when the Eagles pounded out 11 hits, including two homeruns, Donovan Casey stood out, hitting for the cycle in his first four at bats and ending the day 4 for 5 with an RBI. He’s the first BC player to accomplish the feat since Jason Delaney in 2003. Michael Strem recorded 3 RBI on a 1 for 1 day with three walks. Jake Alu knocked in 3 runs as well, as he went 2 for 3 with two doubles against the Minutemen. Gian Martellini also crushed his first home run of season on Wednesday afternoon. As impressive as the offensive performance was, the Eagles pitching staff was equally as impressive against UMass, as Nelson, Stromberg, Jack Cunningham, Sean Hughes, Michael Strem, and Jake Alu combined to hold the Minutemen to one run on three total hits.

Some thoughts on Wednesday’s game versus UMass:

Now that’s more like it! There’s that offense we’ve been waiting for all year! Let’s just do this all the time, OK? In all seriousness, after being shut out in their two most recent games by Clemson, Wednesday’s offensive dominance was just what BC needed. I know that the pitching staff of UMass doesn’t compare to any staff in the ACC, but it’s still great to see guys that BC relies on, finally get hot at the plate. Prime example: Donovan Casey. Entering the game the junior was hitting a meager .244, but exploded from the first inning onward, en route to hitting for the cycle, something that is incredibly rare and impressive, at any level. Jake Alu, Gian Martellini, and Michael Strem all came up with big hits on the afternoon, and for the first time all year, with perhaps the exception of last week’s game against Northeastern, BC forcibly took control of a baseball game from start to finish. Granted, it’s much easier to do so during the midweek when the competition, while still decent, is nowhere near the caliber of the ACC, but it’s still great to see and will hopefully be a harbinger of things to come the rest of the way. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the performance of the pitching staff. It’s one thing to pound a team offensively, it’s quite another to do so while simultaneously shutting them down on the mound. Jack Nelson was again outstanding, and Zach Stromberg, Jack Cunningham, Sean Hughes, Michael Strem, and Jake Alu combined to come within one pitch of shutting out UMass. Impressive. Now, the overarching question about today’s performance is, how will it carry over to ACC play this weekend against Virginia Tech? We’ll dive deeper into that when we release our weekend preview, but, personally, I think it will translate well. The Hokies are a dangerous team (took a home series from Florida State two weeks ago), but they’ve struggled as of late (swept last weekend by Pitt and lost to Campbell on Tuesday). I think the matchup favors the Eagles because the Hokies don’t play a lot of low scoring games, they rely on outslugging their opponent, unless their opponent has good weekend pitching, which BC does. Again, more on that matchup to come, but for right now let’s savor this 12-run pounding of UMass and enjoying getting back into the win-column.