With the University of Pittsburgh Panthers visiting Boston this weekend, the Boston College baseball team had a great opportunity to win its second home conference series and move closer to its goal of making a third straight ACC Tournament appearance. Unfortunately, walks and unreliable relief pitching cost the Eagles both games of Saturday’s double header, giving Pitt the series win. However, Brian Rapp turned in a stellar performance on Sunday, giving BC the win and preventing the series sweep.
Game one on Saturday was one to forget for the Eagles, as they allowed Pittsburgh to score six runs through the first five innings of the game — all on one hit. The influx of Panther scoring was aided but the issuing of twelve free bases, eleven being walks. For the game, Pitt registered only three hits, yet scored nine runs, while the Boston College offense could only push four runs across the plate, two of which came late in the game on a Jack Cunningham single.
Game two saw a more disciplined approach on the mound as BC starter Dan Metzdorf threw extremely well, lasting eight innings, while surrendering only four hits, and a single run and striking out eight. That output seemed to be enough to earn the win, as the Eagles scored a of run in the first on an RBI ground out and then added two more in the bottom of the eighth on a Jake Alu triple to take a 3-1 lead into the ninth. Unfortunately, Boston College freshman reliever Joey Walsh surrendered a pair of runs on a leadoff triple, throwing error, and a pair of singles. BC couldn’t push a run across in their half of the ninth, and the game went into extra innings. The teams traded runs in the 12th to make the score 4-4, but Pitt came right back and scored a pair in the top of the 13th, which Boston College could not answer, giving the Panthers the game and the series.
After two disappointing games, the series finale was all-Eagles, thanks largely to Brian Rapp who took a no hitter into the seventh, before surrendering a two-out single and being pulled from the game. BC scored a pair in the third, four runs in the fourth, and a run apiece in the seventh and eighth, en route to an 8-0 win over the Panthers. Catcher Gian Martellini paced the BC offense with a 2 for 4 day at the plate that included a double and three RBI. Scott Braren and Chris Galland also had nice days, as each went 2 for 3 on the afternoon and senior Jake Palomaki launched his third home run of the season in a 1 for 4 performance.
Boston College beat themselves this weekend. In a pivotal ACC match-up with Pittsburgh, the Eagles gave away a series win. It’s that simple. Completely disregarding game one of Saturday’s double header, which saw BC issue four times as many free passes as hits to the Panthers, the Eagles had game two all but in-hand and couldn’t close out Pitt in the ninth. It’s been a problem all season for Boston College — taking a lead late into games, but coughing it up — and it has to be fixed. Granted, a two-run lead in college baseball is never safe, given the nature of the game, but, if you want to be an annual contender for the postseason, you need to have a bullpen, or even just one or two guys, who you can rely upon to come in and shut the door. Unfortunately, we have not seen anything like that this season from the Eagles. Like I mentioned this past week, the reason these games are so frustrating is because we’ve seen this team play the way its capable of playing already this season. Hell, look at today’s game. Rapp was, again, strong on the mound, though he did issue six walks, and the offense finally came alive, scoring nine runs. That kind of production, both offensively and on the mound, needs to become an everyday occurrence, regardless of opponent, if this team is going to have any shot at the conference tournament. Now, where do we go from here? We’re exactly halfway through the ACC season and the Eagles sit at 5-10. If the status quo holds, they’d finish the year at 10-20 in conference and would likely miss the ACC tournament. To avoid that, BC will need to take some games in their next five series, which include a home match-up next weekend with Wake Forest, followed by a home series versus Florida State, a road trip to Notre Dame, a home tilt with Louisville, and then the regular season finale at a down Miami team. Within those five, I see three that I think favor BC: Wake, ND, and, believe it or not, Miami. However, as we’ve seen so far this season, nothing is guaranteed in this conference, especially when you provide your opposition with free bases and extra outs. Boston College will need to use this week’s match-ups with UMass and Quinnipiac to get back on track, before welcoming the Demon Deacons to Brighton next weekend.