It was over before it ever really began.
The Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks scored a run in the first inning off two Boston College errors, then tacked on two in the third, never looking back in recording a 5-1 victory in Port Charlotte, Florida on Friday afternoon. The Eagles committed four errors in total on the game defensively, and Maverick starter Tyler Hamer took a no hitter into the seventh en route to a complete game victory.
The O-Mavs got on the board almost immediately, striking for that run with one out in the inning. After starting pitcher Jeff Burke struck out lead off hitter Cole Gruber, Clayton Taylor reached base on a ground ball that was thrown away by second baseman Blake Butera. He was attempting to move up a couple of bags on a bunt attempt by the next hitter, Alex Schultz, but third baseman Joe Cronin threw the ball away to covering catcher Nick Sciortino at the hot corner. That brought home Taylor with the game's first run.
Two innings later, the top of the order made it 3-0 in favor of the Mavericks. Cole Gruber hit a bloop single to left center, then scored due to more miscues by the Eagles. Burke balked him over to second before Gruber stole third. With a man on third, Burke threw a wild pitch, scoring the runner to make it 2-0. Alex Mortensen, who had walked and stole second as part of a double steal, moved up to third on the wild pitch. He scored when Daniel Jewett singled him home.
Down 3-0, the bigger story were the Eagle bats—or the lack thereof. A lineup that was solid-to-great over the first two weekends found itself befuddled by starting pitcher Tyler Hamer. Hamer walked one in the first but otherwise didn't allow a baserunner through six innings. He retired, at one point, 17 in a row, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning. That's where Blake Butera tripled to right center to break up the bid. Butera ended the shutout attempt two batters later when Chris Shaw hit a sacrifice fly to left deep enough to score the runner.
By that point, though, UNO was already up 4-0. They had scored one more in the fourth inning, and eventually they added one back in the bottom of the seventh off relief pitcher Carmen Giampetruzzi. It was an inherited run, though, allowed by John Nicklas—Gruber had doubled off Giampetruzzi and Schultz doubled off Nicklas to score the run.
In the 9th, BC loaded the bases with two outs by recording three straight hits, but Hamer induced a weakly-hit grounder off the bat of Logan Hoggarth to end the game.
The complete game victory for Hamer was his first win of the year, improving his record to 1-0. He went the full nine innings, allowing five hits, the first of which was in the seventh and the last three of which were in the ninth. He struck out four and walked only one, facing just six over the minimum. Of the 27 outs recorded, half were grounders.
The Boston College defense was a little different. BC finished the game with four defensive errors. Burke (0-2) did last six innings, but he gave up four runs on eight hits, 3 of which were earned, while striking out four and walking two. He committed one wild pitch and one balk, both in the same inning. Carmen Giampetruzzi lasted just 0.1 officially, tagged for the one run on one hit allowed by Nicklas. Nicklas threw 1.2 innings and was not charged with a run, striking out of the eight batters he faced.
It was a disappointing start to the road trip for the Eagles, who have three games on tap in Port Charlotte. They'll take on North Dakota State, another Summit League team, on Saturday at 3 PM before finishing up the Snowbird Classic with Kansas and Villanova on Sunday and Monday. That leads to the annual exhibition with the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday and the looming threat of playing Florida State in Tallahassee over next weekend.
While the game itself was really the first time the Eagle offense was shut down, they also ran into a pitcher for which they didn't have an answer. The perfect storm resulted in their sixth defeat of the year, dropping the team to 2-6 while improving UNO to 5-5. There's no need for the team to hit the panic button yet, but it does make Saturday's game against an extremely beatable opponent a statement game.
BC has now been on the receiving end of two consecutive blowout defeats after playing LSU tough for the first two of their three game series. Giving up 15 or so runs in the last game, they've now had a power outage against UNO. They need to come out and deliver a statement to a poor Bison club that they can get the wheels moving because they can't hit ACC play with the wheels stuck in mud. That said, the road to the ACC Tournament doesn't go through Tallahassee because anything other than a sweep loss at the end of the week has to be considered an accomplishment.
Still, the Eagles need to come up with better against North Dakota State in order to deliver some good vibrations into the week. Kansas and Villanova will be big tests, and they cannot go into those games coming off a loss to one of Division I's worst statistical opponents.