An enjoyable run in the ACC Tournament came to an end on Saturday for the Boston College men’s baseball team, as they fell to North Carolina in the semifinals. UNC lead from the first inning on and while BC occasionally threatened to make things interesting, the Eagles were unable to handle North Carolina’s back basically all day.
The Tar Heels struck first with two runs in the bottom of the first. John Witkowski started for the Eagles and immediately found himself in trouble after walking the first two batters. A one out ground out and a two out single gave UNC an early 2-0 lead. BC got a run back in the top of the second, thanks to a Peter Burns two out single into left.
Witkowski threw a clean second inning, but got into trouble in the third. He was pulled after allowing a double and a single to the first two batters, and Emmet Sheehan took over on the mound. A wild pitch brought in a runner from third and Sheehan ended up only facing two batters, walking both and exiting for Joey Walsh with no outs and the bases loaded. Walsh got the first batter he faced to fly to deep center, driving in a run on a sacrifice fly, got a strike out for the second out, and escaped further damage on another fly ball to end the third only down 4-1.
BC had a chance to cut into the deficit in the fourth after putting runners on the corners with no outs, but were unable to do so after some controversy. A play at the plate after a pop up was caught in foul territory saw Gian Martellini diving in head first to try and avoid a tag. The call on the field was safe but a lengthy review eventually overturned the call, despite a seeming lack of conclusive evidence. The strange double play killed a potential BC rally, and kept the score at 4-1.
The Tar Heels broke things open in the fifth, starting things off with a single and a walk. Walsh retired the next two batters and had a chance to escape unharmed, but after a walk loaded the bases, he allowed a single that looked poised to bring in at least two runs. Chris Galland mishandled the ball in left field, however, allowing it to roll almost all the way to the wall and the bases to be cleared, giving UNC a 7-1 lead.
Jack Cunningham hit a solo home run in the sixth to get a run back and the Eagles bats finally came to life. BC sent nine batters to the plate in the inning and pushed four runs across thanks to six hits (the home run and five singles) to cut the UNC lead to 7-5.
Needing a shut down inning from their staff, BC couldn’t get it, as Thomas Lane allowed the only two batters he faced to reach and Matt Gill let up a two run triple on his first pitch of the game and an RBI single to the very next batter to make it a 10-5 game. UNC scored three more in the eighth inning to push the final score to 13-5 and advance to the ACC Championship game.
BC just didn’t have the arms in this one, as UNC had their leadoff hitter reach in each of their eight at bats and scored two or more runs in five different innings. It was an abrupt end to a fun tournament for the Eagles, and almost certainly to a season that saw them take big steps forward after a difficult 2018 season. BC closes their season with a 31-26 record, an improvement of 14 wins on last season.