After going 2-1 over the weekend with wins over Central Michigan and Villanova, the Boston College baseball team returned to North Charlotte Regional Park on Tuesday for a doubleheader to close out their time in the annual Snowbird Classic. In game one, which began at 10am, the “visiting” Eagles fell to the Ball State Cardinals 4-1, and in the afternoon matchup, BC came out as one-run winners over the Toledo Rockets. Let’s take a closer look at how each game played out for the Eagles:
Tuesday Game #1: Ball State 4 Boston College 1:
Heading into Tuesday morning’s matchup with Ball State, it was unclear who would start on the mound for Boston College. As this was the first midweek game of the season for the Eagles, no designated started had been announced and the choice would be based off who had thrown the least amount of innings out of the bullpen over the weekend, and who was rested enough to throw. Ultimately, junior left hander Carmen Giampetruzzi, who registered the win in Friday’s contest versus Central Michigan, got the call. While Giampetruzzi threw decently well, going 3.2 innings and giving up two runs, the Boston College bats did little to help him out, and he took the loss.
The game’s scoring began in the bottom half of the second inning when, with two outs, Giampetruzzi issued a walk to Ball State’s Trent Theisen. The next Cardinal batter, Seth Freed, doubled to left-center, scoring Theisen, and giving Ball State the 1-0 lead. The Eagles, however, would answer in the top of the third. After senior Johnny Adams reached base on a fielder’s choice, he stole second and was brought home by Michael Strem who singled to left field, evening the score at one apiece. Unfortunately, that was all the offense BC would muster in game one, as Ball State starting pitcher John Baker was in control from that point on, lasting five complete innings, giving up the single run and only two hits, while striking out four. The Cardinal tacked on runs off Giampetruzzi in the fourth, redshirt senior Luke Fernandes sixth and sophomore Jake Alu in the seventh to give them a 4-1 lead which the Eagles never came close to overcoming.
The Eagles offense was led by Strem, who recorded BC’s only RBI in a 1 for 4 day, and junior Jake Palomaki who went 1 for 2 with his team-leading ninth walk of the season. The Eagles struck out a combined eleven times versus Ball State, a statistic that cannot be pleasing to Coach Mike Gambino. The two hits recorded in the game were fewest total by BC so far, this season.
Tuesday Game #2: Boston College 6 Toledo 5:
The two teams combined for eleven runs and seventeen hits, but Boston College pulled out a one-run victory in their last game of the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Eagles used five pitchers on the afternoon with starter Zach Stromberg lasting only two innings, giving up four hits and two runs.
Toledo jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on a trio of doubles from the middle of their order. BC would respond in the bottom half of the frame, as Jake Alu and Michael Strem hit back-to-back singles with one out, and were brought home on a Donovan Casey fielder’s choice and Gian Martellini single, to tie the game at two. The Eagles added another run the bottom of the second as Jake Palomaki singled with one out, was moved into scoring position on a fielder’s choice, and scored on an overthrow by Toledo’s third baseman to make the score 3-2 Boston College. The score would remain the same until the bottom of the fifth when, with two outs, Casey walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. He was then brought home as Martellini singled to centerfield giving the Eagles a two-run lead. Momentum got away from BC in the top of the seventh, however, as Toledo scored two runs off reliever Sean Hughes, making his first appearance of the season, tying the game at four. After a scoreless bottom of the seventh, the Eagles returned to bat in the bottom of the eighth looking to regain the lead. Martellini led off the inning with a walk, was moved to second on a wild pitch, and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Johnny Adams. After a Toledo pitching change, back-to-back walks were issued to Mitch Bigras and Dante Baldelli to load the bases, and wild pitch scored Martellini from third, giving the Eagles a 5-4 lead. An intentional walk issued to Brian Dempsey again loaded the bases for BC, and another walk, this time to Palomaki pushed the lead to two, 6-4. Donovan Casey, who had moved from the outfield to the mound in the top of the eighth inning, returned to close the door on the Rockets, though, not before giving up a run, to earn the first victory of his career, 6-5.
Offensively, the Eagles were led by Martellini who finished the game 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a walk. Jake Palomaki moved up in the BC record books, as he notched his 98th career walk in the game, good for fourth all-time at Boston College. Also of note, Jack Nelson, who came on in relief of Stromberg in the third and threw four innings, recorded a career high six strikeouts.
A few thoughts on the Snowbird Classic:
When it comes to college baseball, I am a big believer in not judging a book by its cover. Just because a team is perceived to be inferior, does not mean they actually are; anyone can win or lose any game. This is evidenced by the fact that, routinely, every year you see top-five teams in the nation lose to teams that make you say, “Really? Wow.” Examples from the first three weeks of this year alone include Jacksonville beating Florida, Wright State taking a series from Clemson and Binghamton sweeping Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. With that said, however, there is a difference between being beaten by a team who is hot and playing down to your competition. I firmly believe BC is a good baseball team. I think they have the capability to make some noise in the ACC this season and finish in the top five or six teams in the conference. Really. They have that kind of talent on their roster. But, if they play the way they played in a few of the games of the Snowbird Classic, it won’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of positives from the week, like the always steady Jacob Stevens versus CMU, to the offensive explosion versus Villanova, to the late inning comebacks against the Chippewas and Toledo. But there were plenty of negatives as well. Leaving men on base far too often, striking out eleven times versus Ball State and committing three costly errors versus Georgetown. All of these things will need to shored up as BC now heads into the meat of its season starting with a weekend series at #3 Florida State. I don’t think the guys on the team figured they would be heading to Tallahassee with a record of 5-6 (I know I sure didn’t), but maybe the first three weeks of the season served as a great lesson for the younger guys, letting them see what college baseball is all about, and served as a wakeup call for the older guys, letting them know that last year is in the past and the 2017 season doesn’t care that they made the Super Regionals. Either way, I think we will learn a lot about this team in three days when they open ACC play at legendary Dick Howser Stadium against one of the top teams in the nation.