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Birdball Weekend Recap - The Snowbird Classic Part One

The Eagles beat Central Michigan and Villanova, but fall to Georgetown in the opening weekend of the Snowbird Classic.

Boston College Athletics

The Birds are a majority of the way through the Snowbird Classic, having wrapped up games versus Central Michigan, Georgetown, and Villanova, with mixed results, over the weekend. After winning a tight ball game Friday afternoon against CMU, the Eagles fell to Georgetown on Saturday in their fifth one-run loss of the season. In Sunday’s matchup with Villanova, BC rebounded for Saturday’s disappointment to pound the Wildcat’s for the second time in two weeks. Let’s take a closer look at how each of the Eagles’ first three games in the Snowbird Class went down:

Friday: Boston College 5 Central Michigan 4:

The BC bats picked up right where the left off last weekend in Norman, as the Eagles tagged Central Michigan starting pitcher Pat Leatherman for four runs in the bottom of the first inning on Friday. With one out, Leatherman issued walks to Michael Strem and Scott Braren before giving up a single to Donovan Casey to load the bases. After getting the second out, Leatherman then gave up a base hit to centerfield off the bat of Johnny Adams, scoring two. With Braren on third and Adams on first, the Eagles pulled off a double steal, giving them a three-run lead. Anthony Maselli closed out the scoring for the Eagles in the first with a single to right field that scored Adams from second base. After the first inning, Leatherman settled down and the Eagles did not score again until the bottom of the eighth.

Sophomore Jacob Stevens, BC’s starting pitcher, was again sharp throughout the game, going 6.2 innings, scattering seven hits and striking out four. He did, however, give up his first earned runs of the season, (ending his streak at 19.2 innings without an earned run) allowing three Chippewa runners to cross home plate in the top of the seventh inning, before being relieved by freshman Jack Cunningham with two outs. Cunningham allowed another CMU runner to score on a chopper through the right side, before getting a flyout to end the inning, tying the game at four heading into the bottom of the seventh. Junior Carmen Giampetruzzi entered the game in the eighth, in relief of Cunningham, and held CMU scoreless. In the bottom half of the frame, Braren got the Eagles’ offense going with a one-out walk, and after CMU reliever Zach Kohn got the next BC batter out, he issued another walk to Adams. With two outs in the inning, sophomore Jake Alu pinch ran for Braren at second base and the next batter, junior Mitch Bigras, hit a chopper between first and second. The lefty hustled out of the batter’s box and beat the throw to first base, allowing Alu to score from second, giving BC a 5-4 lead heading into the final inning. In the top of the ninth, Giampetruzzi returned to the mound and retired the side in order, giving BC the 5-4 win.

Offensively, the Eagles were led by Adams, who was 2 for 3 on the day with two RBI and two stolen bases. Donovan Casey was 2 for 4 on the afternoon, with a run scored, extending his current hit-streak to six games. Giampetruzzi earned the first win of his career, throwing two innings in relief. He faced the minimum numbers of batters, and struck out five of the six he faced, a new career-high for the junior.

Saturday: Georgetown 4 Boston College 3:

After winning a thrilling one-run game on Friday afternoon, the Eagles returned to North Charlotte Regional Park on Saturday to take on former Big East foe Georgetown in the Snowbird Classic.

Georgetown starting pitcher Simon Mathews was outstanding on the afternoon, lasting eight innings while striking out five, and holding the Eagles scoreless until the sixth. BC starter, freshman Matt Gill, did not fare quite as well. After retiring the Hoyas in the first two innings, the right hander gave up four runs in the third on a walk, three hit by pitches, a fielder’s choice, and a single. Only one ball left the infield in the third inning for the Hoyas, but they still entered the fourth with a 4-0 lead. Junior Brian Rapp came on in relief of Gill in the fourth, and finished out the game for the Eagles, throwing five innings of shutout baseball, giving BC a chance to come back late in the game.

After being on cruise control for the first five innings of Saturday’s game, Mathews ran into trouble in the sixth. After senior Michael Strem and junior Donovan Casey led off the inning with back-to-back singles, the pair pulled off a double steal, putting runners at second and third. Freshman Dante Baldelli was then hit by a pitch to load the bases for BC. With no outs, sophomore Gian Martellini grounded out to second base, scoring Strem from third. Johnny Adams then followed with a fielder’s choice of his own, grounding out to short stop, allowing Casey to score. That was all the Eagles could muster in the sixth, and the teams headed to the seventh with the Georgetown leading 4-2. After a quick inning for both teams, BC came to bat in the top of the eighth still down by two runs. Strem led off the inning with another single and, with one out, Baldelli grounded into a would-be double play. However, after getting the lead runner at second base, the throw to first went wide, allowing Baldelli to move into scoring position. With two outs in the inning, Martellini doubled to left field, scoring Baldelli and cutting the Hoya lead to one. After Rapp shut the Hoyas down in the bottom of the eighth, the Eagles returned to bat in the ninth to face Georgetown closer Jimmy Swad, still trailing by one. Unfortunately for BC, Swad was electric for the Hoyas, tallying a 1-2-3 ninth, giving Georgetown the one-run win.

Michael Strem led the Eagles at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a walk. Martellini also had a good day offensively for the Eagles, driving in two of BC’s three runs. Johnny Adams and Donovan Casey both extended hit streaks, as each went 1 for 4 on the day, and Brian Rapp set a career high in innings pitched, going five scoreless, scattering three hits, while striking out five.

Sunday: Boston College 7 Villanova 1:

A week ago against Oklahoma, left hander Dan Metzdorf turned in a spectacular outing, allowing only a single run through seven innings while striking out six. The Eagles ended up losing that game 5-4. He followed up that performance with another impressive outing on Sunday, as the sophomore gave up one run in six innings while striking out five, this time in a winning effort.

Villanova struck first, scoring their only run off Metzdorf in the top of the second inning, after he issued a one-out walk and a double to the following batter. From then on Metzdorf was in control. The Eagles answered in the bottom half of the frame, scoring two runs on singles from freshman Dante Baldelli (the first RBI of his career) and sophomore Jake Alu (making the first start of his career). BC tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth, after Mitch Bigras doubled to lead off the inning and was brought home by another Alu single. The Eagles then padded their lead the following inning by adding four more runs to make the score 7-1. Michael Strem led off the inning with a walk, then stole second, and was moved to third on a Gian Martellini base hit. Then three RBI singles by Anthony Maselli, Bigras, and Alu, coupled with a double steal, capped the scoring for the Eagles in the fifth, and for the game. Bobby Skogsbergh threw two innings of scoreless relief, surrendering only one hit, and redshirt senior Luke Fernandes closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth, including a strike out.

Alu made the most out of his first career start, going 3 for 4 with three RBI and three stolen bases on the day to lead the Eagles. Mitch Bigras also had a nice day at the plate, going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a double. With his second impressive start in a row, Dan Metzdorf is now 1-1 on the season and has dropped his ERA to an impressive 2.63.

A few thoughts on the first three games of the Snowbird Classic:

The first three games of the Snowbird Classic had both highs and lows for the BC baseball team and its fans. On the positive side, Friday’s game showed that the Eagles have some resiliency in them. After blowing a four-run lead to CMU entering the eighth inning, it would have been easy for BC to play tight, or get anxious, and somehow find a way to lose the game. Instead, the Eagles did the opposite and played loose, finding a way to win. Bigras sprinting out of the box on a ground ball to the right side (generally the most sure-fire out for a defense) and beating the throw, allowing Alu to score, shows that this team has no quit. They play hard for nine innings each time out, and never feel like they’re out of the game. That kind of mindset is one that is necessary for a team to be successful, regardless of which conference they play in, or who they are playing on any given day. Also, Sunday’s pounding of Villanova also shows that this Eagles team does not dwell on “bad losses,” and yes, losing to Georgetown is a bad loss. Instead of moping around and playing down to their competition, BC came out and put a six-run beat down on the Wildcats. What gives me pause, however, is Saturday’s loss to Georgetown. As noted above, that game would be what NCAA Basketball Bracketologists would call a “bad loss.” For a team like BC, whose margin for error in such a competitive conference is so small, those games cannot happen. You have to win the ones your supposed to win. Granted, Simon Mathews pitched a great game for the Hoyas, but BC’s offense should be able to handle any pitcher on a perceived “inferior” team’s staff, even if that pitcher is “on” that day. So, moving forward I hope that BC takes that mindset in the rest of the Snowbird Classic, and into their midweek games where they’ll play similar teams like Holy Cross, Northeastern, and Bryant. All good teams, but all teams that BC needs to beat to be an NCAA Tournament squad again this season.