The Boston College baseball team split its two midweek games this week, in what were the final out-of-conference match-ups before the start of ACC play on Friday. A win over UNC Asheville on Tuesday and a loss to Wofford on Wednesday have the Eagles sitting below .500, with a record of 5-6, as they head to Raleigh, N.C. to face the NC State Wolfpack.
Tuesday’s contest against UNC Asheville was all BC from start to finish, as starter Matt Gill and relievers Joey Walsh and Sean Hughes combined to hold the Bulldogs scoreless, allowing only five hits on the afternoon, in an 8-0 rout. Senior Jake Palomaki led the way at the plate for the Eagles, going 3 for 5 in the win, while six other players in the BC lineup recorded a pair of hits. Among that group was freshman Chris Galland who continues to impress in the early going this season. The young outfielder recorded two hits, two RBI, and stole his fifth base of the season in as many attempts.
Wednesday’s match-up against the Wofford Terriers seemed to be a continuation of the dominance of the day before, as BC scored seven runs in the top of the first, four of which game off the bat of Jake Alu who smacked his first career grand slam in the inning. The Eagles would tack on three more runs in the early going and take a 10-4 lead into the bottom of the sixth. Starter Jack Nelson, who had pitched well to that point, allowed the first two men of the inning to reach base before being pulled. Then, the wheels seemingly came off for BC, as the Terriers scored eight runs in the inning off four separate Boston College relievers to take a 12-10 lead that would end up being the final score. On the day, the Eagles’ offense recorded 15 hits, four of which came from Palomaki, and saw every starter reach base safely at least one time. Galland again stayed hot, with a 3 for 4 performance on the afternoon, as did Scott Braren who recorded a pair of knocks in the game.
As great as it was to see the outcome of Tuesday’s game, and the dominance of the first six innings of Wednesday’s contest, it was equally, if not more, frustrating to watch the final three and a half innings of BC’s game against Wofford. Just when it seemed as though the Eagles had finally put it all together, a robust and aggressive offense, solid pitching, and sound defense, the rug was pulled out from under them. Any coach will tell you, at any level of baseball, it is imperative to avoid giving up “the big inning.” Sure, the opposing team may score a few runs in one inning, but to be successful a team needs to be able to cap the scoring there, and not allow a bad inning turn into a fatal inning. That’s what happened this afternoon. Give credit to Wofford; a lot of teams down six that late in the game, especially after giving up seven in the first, would have folded. But, the Terriers kept fighting and chipping away and finally took advantage of a Boston College bullpen that has been up and down this season. Obviously, what happened today needs to be avoided at all costs in the future, especially in conference play, but it’s not all gloom and doom. This week’s games showcased how good the BC offense can be. Granted the pitching staffs of UNC Asheville and Wofford are not as talented as the one the Eagles will face this weekend, but Jake Palomaki is hitting as well as anyone in the country right now and not far behind him is Galland. As a noted in the preview of this week’s action, I thought the bottom of the lineup, namely Jack Cunningham, Galland, and Brian Dempsey, were playing really well and were the key to Boston College’s offensive success as of late. They didn’t do anything to disprove that this week, combining for 10 hits and five RBI in the two games. Also, Jake Alu is rounding back into the hitter we saw last year, as evidenced by his grand slam today and the four combined hits he recorded during the week. With all of that said, as disappointing as it is to enter ACC play under .500, the good news is the conference season acts like a clean slate. You win more games than you lose in your conference, especially one as deep and talented as the ACC, and you’re in a great position to make the postseason. The Eagles will get no easy weekends from here on out, though, and it starts on Friday with a match-up against the heavy-hitting NC State Wolfpack.