Joe Gravellese: Sunday’s BC baseball win - in which the Eagles came back from down 9-1 in the 9th inning to win 11-9 - was the kind of game that makes people drop superlatives.
I think I called it the most improbable comeback I can ever recall in my time following BC athletics. Someone in the comments section said it was probably the biggest regular season win in BC baseball history. Both of those seem about right.
This made me want to go down memory lane and recall some other great, significant, improbable BC comebacks.
But before we do that, it’s almost certain nothing even comes close to Sunday in terms of raw probability, right?
Grant Salzano: Nothing comes to mind right away, anyway. There have been some football and hockey ones that were fun, but not really in the realm of the seemingly impossible.
Joe Gravellese: Our student days started in 2006, and I have a decent knowledge of program history before that, but apologies in advance if my trip down memory lane omits something that happened against Holy Cross in 1933 or whatever (mea culpa).
But within our memories let’s try to put this into context.
Obviously from a sheer probability standpoint the baseball game was the craziest comeback we’ll ever see.
I think obviously from a combination of probability and stakes, the gold standard for BC comebacks was Matt Ryan coming from down 10-0 in the final three minutes at Virginia Tech in 2007, complete with an onside kick.
One thing that stood out to me when BC came back to beat Texas State this past fall is that the 14-point third quarter gap was one of the top 4 comebacks points-wise all time for BC football. So we’re not talking about a program with a history of wild comebacks.
The only other really iconic BC football comeback I can think of in semi-recent years also involved Matt Ryan, in 2005 - when Ryan led BC to 28 points over the final two quarters on a rainy day at Alumni Stadium to beat Wake 35-30. That was kind of the day that the legend of Matt Ryan was born and is a memory that really stands out from that era in BC history.
Grant Salzano: The Matt Ryan comeback over Virginia Tech is the obvious one, and definitely the gold standard. It’s funny you mention the Texas State game — for some reason (probably COVID reasons, obviously), I totally forgot that was a comeback. I barely remember anything at all about that game, but did figure it out once I looked at the box score. Hey, something fun happened!
The Virginia Tech game really was a unique mix of difficulty (needed the onside kick, not in the realm of difficult of the baseball comeback but still) plus just what was at stake. The Wake Forest game is certainly in the pantheon too, at least for football. What else we got?
Joe Gravellese: Basketball, I honestly can’t remember much in the way of big comebacks in any sort of game with any sort of stakes (probably because basketball has been so low-stakes for so long... sigh). One that kind of stands out to me, I remember a game against Kent State in 2004 (https://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/game?gameId=243640103) in which BC hit a buzzer beater to keep their undefeated record going at 10-0, en route to 20-0 start.
BC was down by 14 in the final 14 minutes, and down by 5 with 1:39 left, but got a little lucky with 3s and Kent State missing free throws. I remember listening to that game on WEEI, lol. Ted Sarandis on the call. WOW!
It’s hard to compare football and baseball comebacks to hockey where just by definition you’re really not going to see as many kooky, improbable comebacks. Like, BC women’s hockey coming back from down 2-0 in the third period to beat Clarkson in the national semifinal in 2016 was great and not super-probable, but it was, y’know, a 2-goal hockey comeback... nothing out of the ordinary.
Laura Berestecki: The women’s lacrosse comeback from down 6 in double OT against UNC in the national semifinals in 2019 was good:
Grant Salzano: Ohhhh yes, that was a big one. Also, the win against Syracuse in the ACC semifinals!
Joe Gravellese: The Syracuse one was one that really stands out to me because of the circumstances - in the pouring rain, at home at Alumni, keeping the conference title hopes alive.
Look at how freaking nuts Alumni was going for that game, too, in the highlights. Wow, what a trip.
As is so often the case let’s just not think about what happened next.
Grant Salzano: Speaking about bad things that are bad, we shouldn’t use this space to talk about that women’s basketball game that the Eagles impossibly lost to #3 NC State, right?
Joe Gravellese: Oooooof. Wow, I had purged that from my memory, but yes that was kind of up there in the realm of improbable comebacks.
BC had a 16 point lead in the 4th quarter over #3 NC State but got outscored 28-9 in the quarter. Best not to think about this one ever again.
Grant Salzano: Circling back to your hockey comment, you’re right that Hockey isn’t conducive to huge comebacks, though that Clarkson win in the Frozen Four was definitely memorable. Men’s hockey wise — this wasn’t a “late” comeback, but it’s probably the most memorable one I can think of:
(NCAA regional final against Miami in 2008)
Joe Gravellese: Right, I know this doesn’t quite meet the spirit of what we’re talking about (improbable score-wise comebacks) but it FELT improbable to dig out of that 0-2 hole with how much #1 Miami was dominating the game.
The other men’s hockey memory that stands out is this comeback in 2008 against UNH in the Hockey East semifinals, which goes down as one of the top 5 games I have ever attended, easily:
BC came back from down 2-0 and 4-1 and it’s hard to remember just how improbable the comeback felt at the time, but BC was really struggling for much of that season, was sort of a bubble NCAA team for a while, and didn’t really hit their stride until the Hockey East
tournament. Meanwhile UNH was the top team in the East and won the regular season Hockey East title. This comeback was not only crazy, but it was huge in spurring BC to the eventual NCAA title.
They won in triple overtime... man, what a memory that was. BC was down 4-1 until scoring with 6:18 to go in the 2nd. That’s getting into pretty rare comeback territory.
Grant Salzano: Wow, you know, it’s funny, that’s *definitely* one of the best men’s hockey moments in my memory, and somehow I always forget it happened. That was still in the Bush Administration! God, we are so old. The PING!! of the game winner sits deep within a dusty filing cabinet of my brain, though, never to be forgotten once retrieved.
Joe Gravellese: We are really old. Oh, I never forget this one... this was also one of those games that featured like 5 video reviews back before that was just a normal thing that happened in every sporting event.
Kevin Regan’s helmet popping off, BC having to win twice. Man.
Grant Salzano: Usually when someone mentions “Epic Comeback Against UNH” my mind actually goes to the game the following year where we were down 3-0, Sislo taunted the student section, and then we just kept scoring. Again, not really in the spirit of the discussion, but still a pretty fond memory.
Joe Gravellese: That did happen, and is one of the only times I can ever remember BC coming back from a 3-goal deficit.
Any others come to mind? Not really, right? I remember BC coming back from down 10-3 in a baseball game in the 7th inning back in 2009, but again, that’s child’s play compared to what happened on Sunday.
Grant Salzano: Those seem to be the big ones, at least in our time. I’m sure there’s some major one we’re forgetting, though, that someone will remind us of.
Oh, I do have one more hockey one, actually — a 3-0 third period comeback at Providence before winning in overtime, in 2017.
Joe Gravellese: THAT DID HAPPEN! Yes, that was pretty improbable. I think that was the start of the Legend of Logan Hutsko, his freshman year. Sigh. And Casey Fitzgerald with the laser game winner, which I think maybe went to video review and was held up, if I recall correctly. Always hard to tell what’s exactly happening at Schneider with those big railings in front of you.
Sadly this is one of those highlight videos that feature weird public domain music in the background, but it was a great game.
I think my ultimate hot take here is that in terms of degree of difficulty + stakes, the birdball comeback Sunday goes down as #2 overall for me in my memory, after football at Virginia Tech.
Higher degree of difficulty, lower stakes (but still high-ish!). An all-time, defining moment.
Grant Salzano: Statistically, I don’t think BC’s ever had a comeback with a higher degree of difficulty in the history of any sport, anyway. Just a crazy game.