The second weekend of Boston College baseball is in the books. After nearly scoring victory in the two games of the doubleheader on Friday, LSU destroyed Boston College on Saturday to close out a three-game sweep. The Eagles now return home with a 2-5 record before heading back to Florida to start their Spring Break trip. Let's look within the weekend that was for the Birdballers:
Hey we didn't play that badly. Before the weekend, I said that the Eagles, on paper, looked like they would get smushed. In order to hang within the game, they would need to take care of their opportunities and play to their strengths. That would include speed, running on the pitchers, and protecting counts. In that respect, the Eagles were successful. They did a very good job of fouling off pitches with two strikes, and they protected the plate. With the exception of the second game, they didn't strike out a ton. And even then, they were in position to win that game.
John Gorman. Gorman was a low-rated pro prospect last year, but I have the feeling pro scouts will take notice of him if he can put together more outings like his start on Friday afternoon. In his weekly press conference, Mike Gambino talked about strict pitch limits and said it would increase little by little, mostly to save starting pitching for conference play. As a result, Gorman only threw 4.2 innings on the hill. But he was good, including in the bottom of the second against the Tigers. After giving up a couple of runs, he was able to pitch out of a jam.
Gabe Hernandez. Slotted in the leadoff position, I can't help but be impressed by Hernandez. He's not a five-tool type of player, but he's got a lot of strengths going for him. With Alex Lange striking out everything that stood in against him, Hernandez found pay dirt with a double to lead off the game. Later in the game, he worked a full count walk that helped continue the rally that gave the Eagles the lead. He reached base four times against LSU in the second game, which is what anyone could really ask for out of their leadoff hitter.
Chris Shaw. Everyone knew Shaw would have some type of coming out party against the Tigers, whether it be for the good or the bad. But with two RBI in both games on Friday, he convinced some of the doubters of his ability to step up in big games. While the team was getting murdered on Saturday, he hit a solo homer in the top of the eighth, the lone positive from an otherwise dismal game.
Decision Making With The Bullpen. One of my fears leading into the game was that BC wouldn't solidify roles for their relievers coming into games. I knew Gorman and Jeff Burke wouldn't last long into the games because of their limited pitch counts, but I felt the Boston College coaching staff could really find some kind of rhythm to their bullpen. I anticipated someone like Luke Fernandes being the first option out of the pen, with either Justin Dunn factoring into middle relief for longer outings or Carmen Giampetruzzi and Bobby Skogsbergh getting looks. Mike King would solidify the back end of the bullpen for the closer's role.
As it turned out, there was no concrete role, something that I disagree with. King came into Friday's first game and pitched 2.1 innings, the same number he threw in relief against Xavier. At the end of the game, BC went to Tyler Hinchcliffe and Trever Massey, which is fine because it gets them work where they ordinarily might not have been first options. But pitching with a lead against the #2 team in the nation, I thought there were curious decisions made.
I'm not in the dugout so I can't speak to the decision making process. I'm just saying what I would've done. Take it for what it's worth.
Pitching With A Lead. If there's one thing BC was ill-prepared for, it was pitching with a lead. Jeff Burke pitched from behind for the majority of his outing, but when the Eagles finally caught up to Alex Lange by using their smarts and their patience, they were able to stake their starter to a 4-2 lead. That didn't last because Burke surrendered three runs. He hit a batter to lead off the inning and delivered back-to-back RBI doubles to tie the game. Reliever Jesse Adams came into the game and promptly surrendered an inherited run on a wild pitch. BC never recovered the lead and lost that game.
In the first game, they traded the lead a couple of times before LSU simply pulled away. Again, maybe some of this has to do with the management of the relievers, but it can easily be blamed on BC's need to improve in situational baseball. It's early in the season, but this is something they'll need to work on as the season progresses. It's early enough where we can kind of chalk it up to a team being simply better than they were when they needed to be.
Saturday. Look, I don't want to harp on Saturday's 16-2 loss. Outlier games happen in baseball. They're going to happen more than once a season because of the frequency of games. Every team, no matter how good or poor, has a day when they win big or lose big. But it happened. So we have to mention it.
The worst part about Saturday's loss was that it seemingly evaporated some of the goodwill built up by the first two games. On the larger body of work, BC ended up finally running into a team that was substantially better than they were. Had they been able to hang tough, the entire weekend would feel like a success despite an 0-3 record. Instead, it feels like they overplayed themselves for the first two games, and the last game's annihilation makes it feel a lot worse.
These things happen in baseball, but it doesn't make it any easier to endure.