Eric Stevens failed to get out of the fourth inning, and a late-game rally fell just short as Boston College baseball dropped its opening game of a three-game series, 5-3, to the Stetson Hatters on Friday night at Melching Field. The loss was the first Hatter victory of the year, and it dropped BC to 3-2 on the season.
Stevens lasted just 3.2 innings on the hill in his second start of the year, having his start doomed by the fourth frame. Prior to the fourth, he'd allowed just one run on three hits (all in the third), but the second time through the order really caught up to him as Stetson unloaded in the fourth on both the starter and reliever Tyler Hinchcliffe.
In that fourth inning, Stevens beaned Darby McCormick to start things out, then committed an error to put runners on first and second. Stetson advanced the runners with a textbook sacrifice bunt to the right side, then scored McCormick on a passed ball committed by catcher Stephen Sauter. Mitch Piatnik plated Kyle Zech when third baseman Gabriel Hernandez committed an error. Tyler Bocock then doubled down the right field line, scoring Piatnik.
That chased Stevens in favor of Hinchcliffe, but he failed to record an out as he gave up one more run on an RBI by Patrick Mazeika. Hinchcliffe received a quick hook after Josh Powers and Garrett Russini both reached base, lifted in favor of Nick Poore. Poore struck out McCormick to get out of the inning. The final damage for the fourth resulted in the Hatters batting around, scoring four runs on three hits and two errors. Of the four runs, only one was earned.
Rather than cave, BC staged a dramatic late-inning rally, scoring twice in the seventh. After Sauter popped up to start the inning, Travis Ferrick delivered a single to the left side. Gabriel Hernandez then singled to right, moving Ferrick up one bag. Blake Butera loaded the bases with a third single, chasing starting pitcher Kurt Schluter from the game in the process. With bases loaded and only one out, Bourdon singled to score Ferrick. That kept the bases juiced for Geoffrey Murphy, who grounded to second. The Hatters retired Bourdon at second base, but they couldn't turn two and BC scored Hernandez to make it a two run ballgame. After Shaw walked to reload the bases, John Hennessy grounded out to end the threat.
The Eagles went down in order in the 8th and 9th.
As for the pitching, after the rougher start, the bullpen came on and did yeoman's work to really bail out the starting effort. Poore pitched 2.1 before being replaced by Luke Fernandes. Fernandes pitched the final two innings, and the duo combined for 4.1 of no-hit ball. Poore struck out three, Fernandes struck out two, with a single base-on-balls between the two. Tyler Warmoth came on in the 8th for the Hatters to shut down BC and pick up his first save of the year by recording a six-out save.
It was the first real sign of struggle out of Boston College's starting rotation after a sterling performance last weekend. Stevens struggled with his command, recording three walks and facing 20 men through his 3.2 IP. But he wasn't bailed out by the defense, either, as BC struggled in the field for the first time this season. After fundamentals doomed them for much of last year, the team committed three errors, and an opportunistic Hatter squad capitalized. Stetson finished with five runs on seven hits, while BC finished with three runs on nine hits, leaving eight men on throughout the course of the game.
Schluter ended up throwing 6.1 for his first victory for the Hatters, throwing 100 pitches in an effort to snap the four-game losing streak to start the season. Bocock and Mazeika each recorded multi-hit games.
The Eagles will try to rebound on Saturday afternoon when they take on the Hatters in the second game of their series. Andrew Chin will get the call for the game, while Stetson counters with Austin Perez.
From the BC Bird Ball YouTube, check out the postgame comments from Mike Gambino below:
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Gambino After Stetson Loss (via Bird Ball)