The Pitching. There is virtually nothing of this past weekend's loss that could be blamed 100% on the pitching. Mike King threw a gem on Friday and made literally one mistake when he walked in a run. The only problem with that was that it happened to be a night where he needed to not make any mistakes. Getting no run support, he lost, 1-0.
On Sunday, Jesse Adams pitched well but surrendered three unearned runs because of an error made with two outs. With runners on first and second and two out, Jake Palomaki made an error. Adams then walked in a run and gave up a two-RBI base hit. He pitched well enough to not be behind 5-0 on Sunday through three innings. In fact, it should've only been a 2-0 game. But being forced into that fourth out scenario rattled him enough to walk in a run, then surrender a big hit. When he left, he should've been behind only 3-0, if not less had the bats showed up.
Justin Dunn pitched three outstanding innings in relief. The more he does that, the more he's going to rocket up somebody's draft board as he gets closer to eligibility.
BC left two wins on the table by spoiling good outings, but at least we can pass through the weekend into the coming week with the knowledge that the Eagles are getting stronger and stronger on the hill.
The Reality Check. You know, there's a part of me that thinks the losses are hurting but at the same time, I'm trying to take an existential approach to this. BC had been riding a crest of goodwill for the better part of all season. They hadn't really, fully laid an egg. Unfortunately, they picked one of the worst weekends of the year to lay that proverbial egg. That it happened this close to the end of the season severely damages the team's hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth unless they win the league.
But even though the Eagles dropped out of the ACC Tournament's in crowd, they very much remain in the hunt. All that matters in the ACC is getting in, as Georgia Tech proved last year, and BC is a lot closer to the race this year than they were last year. They're playing through an extremely tough division, as proven by the fact that they're in last where they would probably be in fourth or fifth in the Coastal. So the losses here aren't crippling.
It serves as a reminder just how hard it is to win at baseball in the ACC. That the Eagles are in the hunt is a credit to the way this season's gone, but at the same time, it's a reminder that there's plenty of work left to do. Six games stand behind BC and the end of the season. Each one of those is going to be a battle. Being reminded of that might be a good lesson.
The bats. Quite frankly, the hitting didn't show up. Over the past few weeks, ever since Chris Shaw went down with a broken hamate bone, we talked about the need for new heroes to show up. Baseball, after all, is a game about the sum of its parts, and the Moneyball era showed us that you can replace the production of one player by getting a little bit more out of everyone else. When Shaw went down, it wasn't so much the production that hurt as it was the ability to rely on one man. It meant the team would need to pick up the slack moreso than one player.
Over the first few weeks, that's exactly what happened. The run support was still there. This past weekend, we were reminded just how much BC missed his bat in the middle of the order. The hitting petered out completely. BC didn't so much as not hit as they did miss out on getting on base. The Tar Heel pitching was barely challenged with tough situations; maybe the hardest one to deal with was the bases loaded situation on Friday up 1-0 in the ninth.
What concerns me about this is that the Eagles punched above their weight class virtually the entire season. They played very well over a long period of time as a team. If they're finally running out of gas, then that's a concern. They need an infusion shot in the arm this week against URI and Bryant.
I list this as a bad because I'm not sure if the lineup can pick up the slack once it lost momentum. As opposed to a throwaway outlier, this is a concern. They'll have to prove otherwise this week against some tough non-conference game, including a sneaky good Bryant team that's well-coached and has been to a couple of national tournaments.
The defense. The defense was flat out atrocious. After losing 1-0 in a gem of a pitchers' duel on Friday, BC committed six errors over two games. In both games, errors led to costing the pitching staff runs. Geoffrey Murphy finished Saturday charged with an unearned run, and Palomaki's error on Sunday cost BC three runs in the third inning.
They're ugly because I don't think that's the Birdball way this year. The defense played poor and shoddy, but realistically, over a 56 game season, it's due for a bad weekend. Like the hitting, it just picked a bad weekend to rear its uglier side. That said, I tend to throw this away because these guys are Division I college athletes; fundamentals like fielding ground balls or throwing to a base are things they're not going to forget how to do. It's not like Chuck Knoblauch plays second base on The Heights.
We can throw this part away and assume it will right itself this week against URI, Bryant, and Virginia Tech. We have more pressing things to worry about, like how BC is going to score runs after putting just two up in three games.