The Boston College Eagles used a seven-run eighth inning to pull away from the Villanova Wildcats on Monday morning, winning for the third consecutive game at the Snowbird Classic. A 10-2 final put an exclamation point on a huge weekend for Birdball, which now sets its sights on 22nd-ranked Florida State at the end of the week.
Joe Cronin staked the Eagles to a 2-0 lead in the first three innings, hitting an RBI single over the head of shortstop Eric Lowe to score Jake Palomaki in the first inning, then blasting his first homer of the season over the left field wall in the third.
BC made it 3-0 in the fourth when catcher Steve Sauter manufactured a run from the lead-off spot in the frame. He singled, stole second, and tagged up for third on a warning track power ball by Johnny Adams. Palomaki grounded to second for the second out of the inning one batter later, but Sauter scored to give the Eagles a commanding lead.
Villanova scored one in the top of the fifth off starting pitcher Justin Dunn to make it a 3-1 game. Emmanuel Morris scored a one out double, advancing to third two batters later when Adam Goss grounded out to second base. Todd Czinege then singled him home to cut the lead to two. Runners remained at the corners, but Dunn induced a grounder to pitch out of the jam.
Dunn turned the ball over Luke Fernandes, who shut down the Wildcats with a perfect sixth and equally sterling seventh, retiring all six batters he faced. He handed the ball to Nick Poore in the eighth, and the Wildcats manufactured another run to make it a 3-2 game. Goss singled to center and advanced to second on a wild pitch. He moved up to third when Max Beerman, who doubled as the day's starting pitcher and cleanup hitter, grounded out for the second retiree. Goss scored on a passed ball, and Poore was lifted after issuing a walk to Kevin Jewitt. John Nicklas threw a wild pitch to move Jewitt up to second but induced a flyout to end the inning.
With a one run game in the eighth, Villanova chose to go to their bullpen for closer Chris Haggerty. Haggerty gave up a lead off double to Michael Strem, and Strem advanced to third two batters later when Donovan Casey grounded to short. Haggerty issued an intentional walk to Steve Sauter, and Mike Gambino chose to lift Sauter from the basepaths in favor of Nick Colucci. With runners on first and third and two out, Johnny Adams singled through the left side, scoring Strem.
That chased Haggerty from the game with runners on first and second and two out. Villanova brought in John Santoianni, and the Eagles promptly double stole on him, putting Colucci at third and Sauter at second with Jake Palomaki at the dish. Palomaki worked a walk to load the bags, which were promptly unloaded one batter later when Blake Butera singled to left to score two runners.
Now down 6-2, Santoianni's day was done in favor of Joe Siringo. With two on, Siringo promptly walked Cronin, reloading the bases for Chris Shaw. A pure pull left hander, all Siringo had to do was not groove a pitch down the wheel house.
Guess what he did.
By the time ball landed over the right field fence, Shaw had his first career grand slam and his third homer of the season. With Boston College up 10-2, the Wildcats got out of the inning, and Nicklas sat them down with only a fielding error of note in the ninth for the Eagles' third straight victory.
For Shaw, his salami extended his on-base streak to 32 straight games (going back to last season). He's now tallied a hit in 30 of his last 35 games played. Joe Cronin also added his first homer of the season, as well as his first triple of the season. Both Cronin and Butera finished with two RBI.
On the bump, Dunn (2-0) picked up the win by throwing five innings and allowing just one run on five hits. He struck out three and walked two, hitting one batsman. Luke Fernandes finished with a perfect two innings and one strikeout. John Nicklas relieved Nick Poore after just two outs, and since Nicklas came into the game in a save situation, he was credited with his first stop of the year. He went the final 1.1 innings and struck out two while not allowing a hit.
The Eagles now turn their attention to the rest of the week. On Tuesday, they'll take on the Boston Red Sox in the 25th annual meeting between the professional club and their collegiate neighbors. The Eagles will remain in Florida for the rest of the week before heading up to Tallahassee on Friday for their ACC opener with the 22nd-ranked Seminoles.
First pitch tomorrow is 45 minutes after the seven-inning game between the Red Sox and Northeastern finishes. That game is slated for a 1:05 PM first pitch.