After coming from behind to defeat Rutgers one week ago, the Boston College baseball team had the opportunity to build off that momentum with three games in Cary, North Carolina this weekend. While Friday’s contest versus the Niagara University Purple Eagles saw BC take care of business in an 11-3 win, Saturday and Sunday’s match-ups with Bryant and Army, did not fall in the Eagles’ favor.
Junior Jacob Stevens was on fire Friday afternoon, allowing only a single hit in a career-high seven innings pitched, while striking out nine Niagara batters. With Stevens on cruise control on the mound, the game was never in doubt and the Eagles’ offense scored runs in the third, fourth, sixth, and seventh innings to take an 11-0 lead into the final frame. Though Niagara plated three runs that inning, the contest was well in hand, starting BC’s spring break trip with a win. At the plate, sophomore Brian Dempsey stayed hot, going 2 for 4 with an RBI. Freshman Chris Galland also continued the scorching start to his career, as the outfielder was a perfect 3 for 3 on Friday with two runs batted in. Junior Jake Alu and senior Jake Palomaki had nice days as well, as each recorded a pair of hits.
Heading into the weekend, Saturday’s match-up with Bryant seemed to be the most intriguing of the series, and it lived up to its billing. After trailing 4-1 heading into the top of the fourth, Boston College scored a pair of runs in the inning to make the score 4-3. After giving a run back to the Bulldogs in the bottom of the frame and being blanked in the fifth, BC scored three in the sixth and two in seventh and, after Bryant scored a pair of runs late, took an 8-7 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the two run lead would not hold up, as the Bulldogs plated a pair of runs in the inning to walk off with the win. Brian Dempsey enjoyed a career day at the dish in the loss, going 3 for 4 while plating four BC runs. Jake Palomaki, Chis Galland, Gian Martellini, and Jack Cunningham all recorded two hits in the game, as well.
Sunday’s rubber-match between Boston College and Army started out as a low scoring affair, but spiraled out of control in the seventh as Army plated six runs to take a lead it would not relinquish. The Black Knights went on to score three more in the eighth en route to an 11-1 win over the Eagles. Boston College starter Brian Rapp pitched very well, lasting 5.2 innings and surrendering only a pair of runs, while tying a career-high with ten strikeouts. However, the senior righty got little help from his teammates as the BC defense committed a pair of errors in the field and the offense could muster only a single run, scored in the top of the fifth on a Mitch Bigras RBI single. Galland continued his current hitting streak with a 1 for 3 performance on the day, as did Palomaki, who also recorded a hit in three at bats.
Some Quick Thoughts:
With only two out-of-conference games separating Boston College from ACC play, there are still a good amount of things the Eagles need to iron-out to be ready to open up in conference. First and foremost, the back-end of the bullpen needs some stability. By that I mean, someone needs to step up and be a shut-down reliever that can be depended on in any, and every, situation. Don’t get me wrong, the Eagles’ bullpen has had some outstanding performances so far this season, but there has been little consistency. One night, three relievers will combine to close the door on a team and the next day, they’ll allow four runs in an inning to turn a save situation into a come-from-behind scenario for the offense. Granted, much of this has to do with the fact that the season is only nine games old and guys are still getting used to different roles and are on pitch counts, but the fact remains the back-end needs to be shored up before next Friday night when the Eagles head to Raleigh to take on NC State.
On a positive note, I like what head coach Mike Gambino is doing with his lineup by keeping the hot hitting Brian Dempsey in the nine hole and giving freshman Chris Galland plenty of opportunity on the field. After the success Dempsey had at the Snowbird Classic, a lot of coaches would have been tempted to move him to the top of the lineup this weekend, but by keeping him at the bottom, he’s seeing a lot of good pitches to hit and has been capitalizing on them by driving in runs, getting on base, and turning the lineup over. As for Galland, though his career sample size is small (only 4 starts in 8 games played), it’s clear the kid can play. He’s registered nine hits in his first 15 collegiate at bats for an even .600 batting average and, what’s more, the freshman is a perfect 4 for 4 in stolen bases this season. The speed he possesses is a real threat out of the seventh spot in the lineup as he will generally get into scoring position for, you guessed it, Dempsey to drive in.
While there is no way to look at this weekend as anything other than a disappointment, I think BC still has a chance to right the ship before facing NC State next Friday. The next two games against UNC Asheville and Wofford are in no way, shape, or form “must-win” games, but a pair of W’s heading into the weekend would be huge for this team’s confidence.