Prior to Sunday's opening weekend finale between Boston College and Northern Illinois, Logan Hoggarth had been the beacon of consistency for the Eagles, a symbol of the team they were developing into. In 128 career games prior, he had been a case of steady improvement, a guy who went from hitting .189 during his freshman year to a .300 hitter entering 2016. He didn't so much drive in runs as he did create opportunities for his teammates with 37 RBI.
Then he swung and connected on a fourth inning delivery from Huskies reliever Kevin Jones.
His fourth inning, first career homer cleared what were already full bags, putting the punctuation stamp on a dominant weekend and putting the game effectively out of reach. As the Eagles cruised home with a 17-0 victory, they left Glendale, Arizona with snapping heads towards the desert as the college baseball universe, just four games into the season, is now forced to take early note of a New England school.
The Huskies were in danger of losing control well before that grand slam, however. BC took a 2-0 lead in the second and increased it to 6-0 in the third. In the second, Donovan Casey bunted himself aboard and moved up a base on a single by Joe Cronin. But when Cronin hit that one to right, Jason Gasser booted it, allowing Casey to come around and score the game's first run. In the process, Cronin advanced to third, scoring on Hoggarth's first RBI of the game - a grounder to second that conceded the run.
For starting pitcher Ryan Olson, things just got worse in the third. Jake Palomaki led off with a single to center, then advanced to third on Johnny Adam's double to left center. With runners on second and third, Michael Strem walked, loading the bags with nobody out. Casey then singled to right, scoring Palomaki to make it 3-0.
With the bases still loaded, Joe Cronin singled down the left field line, bringing in both Adams and Strem. At 5-0, that was it for Olson, lifted for the reliever Jones. Jones immediately struck out Gian Martellini, but a double steal and a walk to Hoggarth reloaded the bases, and Nick Sciortino flew out to center to sacrifice in Casey to make it 6-0 as BC batted around.
That set up the monster fourth. Jones walked Palomaki to lead off the inning, who stole second. After Adams struck out, Strem singled to right, scoring Palomaki, making it 7-0 in favor of BC. Strem moved over to third when Casey singled to left, and the bases loaded two batters later when Martellini walked. With two out after Cronin flew out prior to the four-ball issuance, Hoggarth strode to the plate and delivered a knockout punch, blasting a salami to make it 11-0.
Surprisingly, BC wasn't actually done, and it wasn't the only homer of the game. Jon Savarise came in for Jones and promptly walked Sciortino. With one on and two out, Gabe Hernandez piled on two more, blasting a homer of his own to make it 13-0. When Jake Palomaki popped out to end the inning, seven Eagles crossed the plate, allowing them to coast home over the next five innings.
The Eagles continued to add on runs throughout the remaining innings; Johnny Adams scored on a double play in the fifth, and Anthony Maselli and Scott Braren, pinch hitting into the game in the sixth, each drove in one. Mitch Bigras singled in a run in the ninth.
Overshadowed by the offensive onslaught was starting pitcher Thomas Lane. The local freshman out of Phillips Andover in Massachusetts was dominant, facing four over the minimum in five innings of work. He became the fourth Eagle starter to shutout an opponent, giving up only two hits and walking two while striking out two. The only two hits allowed were both doubles, coming in the first and third. In pitching five innings, Lane picked up his first career victory, allowing all Eagle starting pitchers to win decisions this weekend.
With the game out of hand, BC went to their bullpen for depthwork, with Zach Stromberg making his first career appearance in the sixth, allowing a hit but no runs or walks. Carmen Giampetruzzi threw the seventh inning, with Bobby Skogsbergh throwing the eighth. Jack Nelson closed out the game in the ninth as the relievers scattered three hits and struck out a combined three with one walk.
Final totals at the dish for BC were beyond impressive. They tallied 16 hits and drew 11 walks. Down the line of the BC starting order, the Eagles earned solid numbers. Jake Palomaki went 1-for-3 with two runs scored. Johnny Adams went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Michael Strem was 1-for-3 with a couple of runs scored and an RBI. Casey was 3-for-4 to leadall hitters, scoring three times and driving in one. Cronin collected three hits, scoring a run and driving in two. Martellini scored a run. And both Sciortino and Hernandez scored one while collecting RBI.
And then there was Hoggarth. In a 1-for-3 day, he scored twice but drove in five. In true fashion, he also drew three walks.
For BC, the 17 runs were the first 15-plus output since May 13, 2012, when they scored 15 against Fordham. With the win, they improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2009 - the last time they went to the NCAA Tournament.
BC returns home for the remainder of the week but will head back on the road next weekend for the annual Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida. Over the span of the weekend, the Eagles will play games against Chicago State, Indiana State, and Villanova.