After a completely dominant performance against NC State on Friday, Boston College had to have known they awoke a sleeping giant. Heading into Saturday's matchup with ace Brian Brown, the Eagles knew they would be facing a hungrier team with its best pitcher on the hill, and a victory in the series was all but assured.
Brown overpowered BC hitters, striking out nine in 6.2 innings of work, walking only one. Retiring the last nine in a row he faced, he shut down the Eagles as the game went on, keeping his team in a place to win the game. That's all NC State would need, staving off a ninth inning rally from BC to take a 3-2 decision on Saturday afternoon at Doak Park. The win evened the weekend series at one game apiece, setting up a rubber match on Sunday to determine who would win the head-to-head crown in 2016.
The first inning set the tone for things to come. The first three hitters for BC went to full counts against Brown, working the pitch count high in the first. And it nearly worked as Joe Cronin doubled and Michael Strem walked following a Jake Palomaki strikeout. But Donovan Casey grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, ending the inning and getting Brown out of the jam.
In the bottom half, Jesse Adams struck out Brock Deatherage to open the NC State offensive game, but Andrew Knizner homered on the second pitch he faced, taking the BC starter deep to left to give the Wolfpack a 1-0 lead.
BC put a couple of runners on and once again found themselves in scoring position in the second, but again they failed to convert. Nick Sciortino singled to center after working a full count to start the inning, and Gian Martellini was beaned two batters later to give BC two on with one out. But even though both would find themselves in scoring position, it came with two outs and Logan Hoggarth grounded out to end the inning.
The Eagles finally broke through in the third. Brown hit Jake Palomaki with a pitch to lead off the inning, setting the stage for Cronin. The BC captain homered on a full-count, pay-off pitch to take the lead at 2-1. After BC went down in order following the hot start, they went into the bottom of the third back in front, a place they grew accustomed in the first game.
The score didn't hold up. NC State scored in the bottom of the third to retake the lead off of Adams. Josh McLain singled to right center, winding up on second when Donovan Casey couldn't handle the ball. After Adams plunked Deatherage, Knizner flew out to center, advancing McClain to third. Deatherage moved up to second on a wild pitch, and Chance Shepard doubled them home two batters later. Joe Dunand ground out to end the inning, but NC State retook the lead, this time for good, at 3-2.
BC wouldn't really threaten seriously again until the ninth. After Nick Sciortino struck out to start the inning, pinch hitter Steve Sauter singled through the left side. The Eagles pinch ran for Sauter with Gabe Hernandez, who promptly moved into scoring position when Gian Martellini grounded to third. That send NC State for DeJuneas, who struck out Chris Balogh (pinch hitting for Johnny Adams) to end the game.
Brown (2-0) picked up the win, allowing just five hits and two runs, both of which were earned. Gilbert threw two innings, giving up two hits, both in the ninth, while DeJuneas got the final out for his fourth save.
For BC, Jesse Adams was tagged with the loss, dropping to 2-1 on the season. He threw 4.1 innings, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out five in a good, solid performance. Brian Rapp relieved him, throwing 1.2 innings with two strikeouts and one walk. Dan Metzdorf threw 0.2 of an inning, striking out one, and John Nicklas finished the game with 1.1 innings of relief (with two K's).
Offensively, BC was limited to seven hits, three of which came from Joe Cronin. Cronin finished the tday with two RBI and a run scored as well.
For NC State, Knizner and Shepard had two hits, accounting for all of the NC State RBI's in the process.
Both teams' pitching staffs were solid, striking out at least ten on both sides. NC State went down 10 times by way of the K, while the Eagles struck out 12 times at the bat. There were only two walks the entire game (one for each side) in what would amount of a duel between the two staffs.
With the series split at one game for each team, BC and NC State take to the diamond one more time on Sunday at 1 PM for the third game. The Eagles will send Jacob Stevens to the hill to defend his zero earned runs allowed on the year, while NC State has not announced their starter.