Back on April 19th, Boston College had the ACC world by a string. They had won five out of six games and were coming off of a sweep of Georgia Tech. They stood in seventh place, tenuous at best with a number of teams jammed up in the conference standings. They were considered a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament, a team possibly ready to crash the league's establishment and party.
Less than a month later, the optimism and high hopes of the BC baseball season are left to two lame duck double header games on a Friday, a series rushed together due to impending poor weather. The eternal optimism for a spring filled with good news now fades with a whimper.
Notre Dame scored three times in the fifth and squashed any opportunity for an Eagle rally with a three-run ninth, defeating Boston College 10-4 from Shea Field on Thursday. The loss mathematically eliminated BC from conference championship contention at 9-18, ending all postseason hopes with two games left this weekend against their former Big East Conference rivals.
The Irish scored almost immediately against BC starting pitcher Mike King, registering two runs in the top of the first. Kyle Fiala singled with one out to put a runner on, moving up to second when King beaned Ryan Bull. The starter attempted to catch Fiala dancing off of second, but he threw it into center, moving the runners up a bag and into scoring position. That allowed Ryan Lidge to ground out to second base, scoring the runner from third and giving the Irish a 1-0 lead. Robert Youngdahl then tripled to center, scoring Bull with two outs to give ND a 2-0 advantage.
BC cut into the lead in the bottom of the first, adding to a trend of early maroon and gold runs. They did it quickly, as MIchael Strem doubled Blake Butera home from first on back-to-back plate appearances against Irish starter Scott Tully.
The game remained a one-run game into the fourth, where ND broke it open. Zak Kutsulis led off the inning with a homer on a 1-2 pitch to right, pushing the game to 3-1. Jake Shepski followed that up with a second, moving up to second when King threw a wild pitch against Mac Hudgins. He scored two batters later when Fiala singled to right, making it 4-1 midway through the fourth.
BC responded with two of their own in the bottom of the frame. Logan Hoggarth took the first pitch he saw to right for a double, then moved into scoring position when Johnny Adams sacrifice bunted down the first base line. He scored two pitches later when Donovan Casey ripped a triple to right field, making it 4-2. Nick Sciortino plated him when he singled a 2-0 pitch into right center.
The rally didn't last long, and the Irish pulled away for good in the fifth. King started the inning but surrendered two straight hits to Bull and Lidge to put runners on the corners with nobody out. After inducing a flyout to Youngdahl, Lane Richards doubled down the left field line, scoring Bull to push the game to 5-3.
That was it for King, and Mike Gambino went to the bullpen for Geoffrey Murphy. Facing his first opponent in Kutsulis, the slugger singled to right to bring home Lidge, making it 6-3. It went to 7-3 one batter later when Richards scored on a ground ball by Shepski.
With Brandon Bielak in his second inning of work, Joe Cronin struck for some oil after the seventh inning stretch, leading off the bottom with a homer to make it a 7-4 game. BC continued to get to Bielak with a single by Jake Palomaki, but the pitcher rallied to induce a grounder by Butera that turned two. BC would get a couple of runners on when Strem reached via a wild pitch third strike and Chris Shaw walked, but Hoggarth grounded to short to retire the runner the short way at second, ending the last threat for BC.
Facing Tyler Hinchcliffe in the ninth, the Irish ended any hope when Youngdahl hit a three-run homer with one out.
In the bottom of the ninth, Bielak struck out pinch hitter Scott Braren and Michael Strem en route to retiring the Eagles' last outs.
For the Eagles, King (1-5) absorbed the loss, tagged for seven runs, all earned, in 4.1 innings. He gave up 10 hits while striking out four and walking one. Geoffrey Murphy officially only allowed a hit while throwing 1.2 innings but was the pitcher on the hill for the last runs of the fifth.
Tyler Hinchcliffe went 2.1 innings, giving up the three runs off Youngdahl—the only hit he allowed. He did walk three while only striking out two. Travis Ferrick threw the last two outs of the ninth.
For Notre Dame, Bielak (5-2) picked up the win by throwing the last four innings. He gave up just one run on three hit, striking out six and walking one. Tully went four innings in the start, giving up three runs on six hits. Evy Ruibal threw one inning and allowed a hit and a walk while whiffing two.
The two teams combined for 22 hits, with Butera, Casey, and Cronin recording multi-hit games for the Eagles. All of the BC starters recorded at least one hit with only Johnny Adams and Chris Shaw as exceptions.
For the Irish, Fiala, Lidge, Youngdahl, and Kutsulis all recorded multiple hits, with Youngdahl responsible for four RBI. Kutsulis drove in two, including the solo homer.
The two teams were scheduled to finish the series on Friday and Saturday, but due to impending rain on Saturday, the Eagles and Irish will wrap up the series with a doubleheader today. Senior Day festivities have been moved up with the season coming to a close. Now without anything left to play for, BC can still hunt out its first .500 record of the Gambino era with at least a split.