Close but no cigar.
The Boston College Eagles put a well-earned scare into the #2/4 ranked LSU Tigers, but came away empty handed as the host team walked away with a pair of 8-3 and 7-4 victories on Friday in Baton Rouge, LA. The losses dropped BC to 2-4 on the season while LSU improved to 5-1.
BC jumped out to leads of 2-0 and 3-2 against LSU in the first three innings of the first game, scoring two in the first and one in the third. Facing starting pitcher Jared Poche', BC's Gabriel Hernandez and Blake Butera got two leadoff hits. After Joe Cronin struck out, the runners advanced due to an error on the pitcher and Chris Shaw drove them both in with a single up the middle.
That lead didn't hold long, with LSU rallying in the bottom of the second for two of their own. Conner Hale led off the frame with a single, scoring when center fielder Andrew Stevenson tripled. Kade Scivicque then sacrificed him home with a fly ball to center. Danny Zardon threatened to give the Tigers the lead, but John Gorman pitched out of a jam to strand him at third after a double and passed ball.
BC broke the tie one half inning later in the top of the third. Butera led off with his second hit of the game but was retired at second when Cronin grounded 5-4 to the left. Shaw then grounded out to short but advanced the runner one bag. Cronin scored while Michael Strem singled to center, giving BC another one-run lead.
Undaunted, the hosts held serve patiently down a run into the fourth. That's when they scored two to take a 5-4 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Danny Zardon hit a ground ball to score Stevenson from third, and Mark Laird hit an RBI single to score Scivique. The Tigers tacked on another run in the sixth when Zardon crushed one over the wall in left center, then added two more in the seventh and one in the eighth for the result.
Gorman (0-1) lasted 4.2 innings on the hill in his second start of the year but absorbed the loss by giving up four runs on ten hits. A credit to the LSU lineup, Gorman, normally a strikeout machine, recorded only one while walking two. Mike King relieved him in the fifth and lasted 2.1 innings, allowing three runs, only one of which was earned, on two hits. Tyler Hinchcliffe and Trever Massey each threw less than an inning to combine for the eighth.
For LSU in the first game, Poche' (2-0) picked up the victory by throwing 5.2 innings and giving up three runs, one of which was unearned, on seven hits. Collin Strall and Zac Person appeared out of relief before Alden Cartwright closed the Eagles down in the ninth.
In the second game, the BC bats found themselves befuddled against freshman phenom Alex Lange. Lange dominated Eagle hitters in five innings of work, striking out nine. After surrendering a leadoff double to Hernandez, he moved the runner over to third with a wild pitch. But he didn't allow anything until the top of the third, retiring six of the next seven with three strikeouts and a walk. Jake Palomaki led off the third with the second Eagle base hit, but again Lange ruined BC hitters, striking out Hernandez and Butera while inducing a weak grounder to second off the bat of Cronin. He struck out two more in the fourth, although his first (Chris Shaw) reached base on a wild pitch third strike, inducing a double play to get out of the inning.
Through the first four innings, Lange had allowed just two hits, stranded two runners, and struck out seven. Then, inexplicably, he lost it, coughing up four runs on three hits in the top of the fifth and surrendering what was, until that point, a 2-0 Tiger lead.
Lange struck out Johnny Adams to lead off the inning, but another wild pitch sent him down to first. Adams then stole second and scored when Steve Sauter, catching the second game in place of NIck Sciortino, singled up the middle. Palomaki collected his second hit of the game by bunting down the third base line, hustling down the line while Sauter advanced to second. With first and second, Hernandez a full count walk, loading them up with nobody out for Butera.
Butera worked a second walk for the Eagles, collecting an RBI and scoring Sauter to tie the game before a chorus of boos from the 10,000-plus fans in attendance. After Cronin struck out for the first out, Shaw drilled a line drive to right, scoring Hernandez and Palomaki to put the Eagles up 4-2. Strem grounded into a double play, but the big inning was enough to chase Lange out of the game at the conclusion of the frame.
The lead didn't last, as starting pitcher Jeff Burke gave up three runs in the fifth. He hit Jordan Bryce to start the inning, and Bryce advanced to second when catcher Michael Papierski grounded to second. Bryce scored when the LSU leadoff hitter, Jared Foster, doubled down the left field line. Foster came around one batter later when Laird hit a second consecutive double to left. That chased Burke in favor of Jesse Adams, who gave up the third run when a wild pitch allowed Laird to cross the plate. Adams got out of the inning, but LSU had a 5-4 lead they would not relinquish.
The game got away from BC with LSU runs in the sixth and seventh, and closer Jesse Stallings slammed the door on the Eagles despite a base runner to pick up the victory.
Burke (0-1) was tagged for the loss despite going strong into the fifth inning. He was officially credited with five runs allowed on 4.1 innings thrown, but he didn't walk anyone and struck out four. Jesse Adams threw 2.2 innings in relief, getting out of that fifth inning but later running into trouble. He struck out two and walked two, giving up two runs, of which one was unearned.
Donovan Casey made his collegiate debut and looked strong, but ran into trouble after landing awkwardly while delivering a pitch. He was removed after recording two outs in the eighth before back-to-back walks sent Carmen Giampetruzzi to the dish.
For LSU, Lange (2-0) recorded the win with his nine K's in five innings. He ended up walking three and giving up four runs on five hits with four wild pitches. Parker Bugg came into the game in the sixth and pitched through the seventh, scattering two hits and striking out three. Cartwright made his second appearance of the day with a shut-down eighth before Stallings recorded his third save of the year.
Gabriel Hernandez had a monster day for the Eagles, going 2-for-3 in the second game and reaching base four times. He finished with three hits and two runs scored on the day. Blake Butera had a 3-for-5 homecoming in game 1 but was hitless with an RBI in the second game. Chris Shaw drove in two RBI apiece in both games to lead the Eagle offense.
For LSU, Foster went 2-for-3 with three runs scored in the second game after not appearing in the first game. Mark Laird had a three-hit day, and Danny Zardon had three RBI, all in the first game.
Both teams switched catchers for the second game, with BC substituting Steve Sauter in for Nick Sciortino and LSU playing Papierski after Kade Scivicque started the day.
The teams will play the third game from Box Stadium this afternoon at 3 PM EST. Game can be caught on the SEC Network via ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.