Jeff Burke threw eight shutout innings, and Chris Shaw had two RBIs when it counted most in the eighth inning as Boston College defeated the Maryland Terrapins, 5-2, in the second annual Wounded Warrior Project game on Sunday afternoon at Shea Field. The win was the first sweep of an opponent by Boston College since the Eagles swept Wake Forest in April, 2012, and it pulled BC within a game of the Terps for the final playoff spot in the race for the ACC Tournament.
Burke took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and allowed just two hits over his eight-plus inning body of work while carrying the shutout into the ninth. He allowed two base runners in the ninth, but the runs scored off an inherited position against reliever Jesse Adams. He struck out three and walked three while inducing 12 groundouts. Through his eight-plus frames, he threw just 110 pitches.
The Eagles wasted no time, scoring a run in the first inning for the third consecutive game. Tom Bourdon doubled to right with two outs, scoring one batter later when LaMonte Wade committed an error on a ground ball off the bat of John Hennessy. They increased the lead to 2-0 in the fourth when Michael Strem hit an RBI grounder to short that scored Joe Cronin. Cronin had previously singled and advanced to third off a single by Shaw.
Meanwhile, Burke was absolutely stellar on the hill after hitting leadoff man Charlie White in the first. White stole second to put a runner in scoring position, but Burke induced a fly ball off the bat of Brandon Lowe and struck out Wade. White advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Burke got his third man in a row by forcing Nick Cieri to ground out.
Burke would go 1-2-3 in the second inning, including one strikeout, and likewise got three grounders to retire the Terps in order in the third. In the fourth, he walked Lowe and moved him to second via a balk, and Maryland got the runner to third via a sacrifice back to the box. But with one out, Burke bore down once again, getting some help from his much maligned defense. He got Cieri to ground to first baseman John Hennessy, but Hennessy chose instead to make the quick throw home. Nick Sciortino applied the tag to retire Lowe, even though Cieri would reach first. Sciortino then returned the favor by firing a snap throw to first, where Hennessy caught Cieri napping off the bag for the third out.
In the eighth, Maryland got themselves in a jam, and for one of the first times in a long time, Boston College delivered a knockout punch. Gabriel Hernandez reached via an error to lead off the inning, followed by a walk to Blake Butera and a single by Joe Cronin. That brought up Shaw, the reigning ACC Player of the Week and the team's leading hitter. Shaw drilled an 0-1 pitch into center to score both Hernandez and Butera, putting BC up 4-0. Strem and Bourdon both walked to bring in Cronin, the fifth BC run.
Mike Gambino allowed Burke to start the ninth so he could finish his masterpiece, but the righty ran into some issues. After issuing a leadoff walk, White doubled to right to put runners on second and third with nobody out. That summoned Adams from the bullpen, and the lefty gave up an RBI single to Lowe to make it 5-1. Maryland would get a second run on a foul out to right field that Shaw chased down, but Jose Cuas flew out to end the game before the threat advanced any further.
For the Eagles, they improved to 17-27 on the season, 8-16 in ACC play, while Maryland fell to 25-18, 9-14 in ACC play. Because Pittsburgh was idle in ACC play this weekend, the Terrapins fell well behind the Panthers for ninth spot with games in hand. That means it's now essentially a three-team race for 10th place, with Maryland holding a half game lead over NC State, who took two of three from Georgia Tech to improve to 9-15 in league play. BC is a full game back of NC State, a game and a half back of Maryland heading into next week as of press time.
The Wolfpack is idle next week in ACC play for a non-league series with Coastal Carolina, but they will close with Wake Forest at home and Virginia Tech on the road. Maryland's last six conference games are against Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, while the Eagles close with the Panthers and Clemson. The difference between the Terps and the other two teams is a lack of a game against Clemson that was rained out earlier this year.
BC has a Tuesday afternoon game scheduled at URI before taking on the Panthers next weekend at home. Saturday's game will be the annual ALS Awareness Game in honor of Pete Frates.