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Boston College Baseball: Eagles Sweep Xavier, USC Upstate With Offensive Barrage

Chicks dig the long ball.

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After losing their first game of the season to Wofford, the Boston College Eagles baseball team responded with a doubleheader sweep of the defending Big East Champion Xavier Musketeers and the USC Upstate Spartans in South Carolina on Saturday. Chris Shaw and Gabriel Hernandez went yard for the first time this year in a wild 14-7 victory in the opener before Michael Strem collected his third RBI of the day to give Boston College a 5-4 victory in the second game.

Opening up the day with a noontime first pitch, BC took an early 1-0 lead on a Chris Shaw homer to lead off the top of the second. Xavier responded with two runs on two hits in the bottom half of the inning, adding a third in the bottom of the third. But the Eagles responded to trade the lead in the top of the fourth when Hernandez hit his first bomb of the year, a three-run shot to right center that scored Logan Hoggarth and Nick Sciortino. The Musketeers tied the game in the fourth on a homer of their own to make it 4-4, a score that held into the sixth.

With starting pitcher Trent Astle on the bench to start the frame, the Eagles picked up four runs on three hits with two out. They had a runner on first after Nick Colucci grounded into a fielder's choice to retire lead runner Logan Hoggarth at second. Colucci stole second, then scored when Hernandez doubled to right. Blake Butera plated Hernandez with a double of his own to left center. Joe Cronin was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second, and Shaw walked to load them up. That's when Michael Strem delivered a crushing blow with a two-RBI double to center, chasing reliever Brandon Johnson. Johnson lasted just 0.2 of an inning, giving up four runs (none earned) on three hits. Although none of the runs were earned, it allowed the Eagles to pull ahead for good.

BC increased the lead to 10-4 off relief pitcher Damien Jackson, then tacked on four runs in the eighth to seal the victory. Xavier did get runners back against relief pitcher Tyler Hinchcliffe late, but they never threatened and the Eagles walked away with their first win of the season.

Starting pitcher Jeff Burke threw four innings for the Eagles, surrendering four runs (all earned) on seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Luke Fernandes (1-0) pitched two innings in relief, picking up the win by allowing a single run on one hit with two K's and two walks. Both Burke and Fernandes hit a batter.

Mike King pitched the final 2.1 innings to pick up his first save of the season. He relieved Hinchcliffe in the seventh after the junior surrendered two runs on four hits. King struck out four.

At the dish, Strem went 3-for-6 with two RBI, while Shaw went 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI. Gabriel Hernandez had a huge day with four runs scored and four RBI, including the three-run bomb. It helped a huge day for the top half of the BC order, which combined for 10 hits and 12 RBI.

In the nightcap, the Eagles took on the host USC Upstate Spartans and needed a three-run fifth inning to come from behind for the 5-4 victory. Justin Dunn (1-0) recorded the win, throwing five strikeouts on two hits, one run, and two walks. His performance was buoyed by junior reliever Jesse Adams; he struck out eight over four-plus innings, giving up just three runs on five hits while walking none.

Down 4-2 in the sixth, the Birds cut the lead to one on a Joe Cronin RBI base hit. With Blake Butera on the third, Brad Emery threw a wild pitch, allowing the runner to score and tie the game. That forced the Spartans to walk Chris Shaw and pitch to Michael Strem, who lined a single up the middle for the game winning RBI.

Both Hernandez and Butera recorded two hits, and Shaw tacked on two RBI for the Eagles in the victory. Dunn went 4.1 innings, giving up just one run on two hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Again the top half of the lineup came through in the clutch, with Cronin extending his hitting streak to nine games in a carry over from last season and combining with Butera, Strem, Hernandez, and Hoggarth to have at least one hit in all three games to open the season.

Boston College wraps up the weekend with a 12 PM rematch against Xavier on Sunday.