In a 9-4 loss to Connecticut on Tuesday, the Boston College Eagles looked lackadaisical. They woke up their bats in the eighth inning, but they relied too heavily on simply getting through the game as if they could just show up when needed. The Huskies, a good team in their own right, instead put their foot on the accelerator and gassed past the Eagles with a big ninth inning.
That was bad news for UMass.
With a less-than-24-hours turnaround to a road trip to Amherst, the Eagles arrived at the UMass flagship campus angry and motivated. And by the end of the first inning, that was pretty much all she wrote.
Stephen Sauter continued to hit a tear, blasting a two-run homer in the first as Boston College scored three runs. Michael Strem added a homer in the fourth, and BC continued to pile on in the game's later stages as they cruised to an 11-5 victory on Wednesday afternoon.
BC got things going right away against UMass starting pitcher Ryan Venditti. Jake Palomaki led off the game by working a full count against the righty, then blasting a double to right field. He moved up to third on a wild pitch, and after Joe Cronin walked on five pitches, he scored on another wild pitch, giving BC a 1-0 lead after just two official batters. They extended the lead to three after Donovan Casey grounded into a fielder's choice (3-6 putout) and Sauter blasted a two-run shot to right.
In the second they piled on more runs. Michael Strem led off the inning with a homer to left, making it 4-0, BC. After two singles (by Johnny Adams and Palomaki), a wild pitch, and a walk, Venditti was pulled in favor of Connor Donahue. He was promptly greeted by Donovan Casey, who hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Adams from third for a 5-0 Eagles lead.
UMass responded in the second and third to cut the game to 5-3. In the second, Cooper Mrowa doubled home Hunter Carey, who singled to lead off the inning before the Eagles recorded an out, making it 5-1. They cut the lead down to two by blasting two homers - one by Dylan Morris and one by John Jennings.
After the teams traded runs, BC took a 6-4 lead into the sixth where they broke it. After Palomaki led off with a walk, Cronin drilled the first pitch he saw to right center field, tripling home a run to make it 7-4 against right hander Mike Geannelis. Cronin scored during the next at-bat when Geannelis threw a wild pitch, putting BC up 8-4.
Even though UMass cut the lead to 8-5 off Dan Metzdorf in the seventh, BC quelled diminishing hopes for a comeback with a three run eighth. Cronin led off the inning with a walk, then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Ben Panunzio. Panunzio rallied for two outs, striking out Casey and Sauter, but Gian Martellini singled to center, scoring Cronin for BC's ninth run.
After Gabe Hernandez bunted himself aboard, Michael Strem hit a 2 RBI double, scoring Jake Alu, who had earlier pinch run for Martellini, and Hernandez. With the three extra runs on the board, Donovan Casey came onto pitch the eighth, shutting down the Minutemen, before Justin Dunn locked down the ninth with three up and three down.
The win broke a three-game losing streak for BC, who had also dropped five of their previous six, and it righted the ship after they listed through Tuesday's loss to UConn. Nearly everyone had an impact on offense, lead by a three-hit game by both Gian Martellini and Michael Strem. Strem added a game-high three RBI, scoring one run. Martellini had a single RBI in the five hole.
Palomaki, Cronin, Logan Hoggarth, and Johnny Adams added multi-hit games, while Sauter's lone hit was the two-run homer in the top of the first. Palomaki, Cronin and Adams both scored multiple runs (two apiece), while Sauter added two RBI. Donovan Casey had two RBI and a run scored despite being 0-for-3; he walked twice.
On the mound, Zach Stromberg (1-0) earned his first career victory after throwing four innings. He was charged with three runs on five hits, striking out two and walking one. Brian Rapp supplanted him in the fifth, throwing two innings with a run allowed on one hit and a strikeout. Dan Metzdorf allowed a run on two hits before John Nickilas, Donovan Casey, and Justin Dunn each threw an inning.
For UMass, Ryan Venditti (0-3) absorbed the loss, charged with five runs on six hits, two walks, and three wild pitches in just 1.1 innings. Connor Donahue entered the game in place of him, throwing two full innings, but he ran into control issues with three walks and a wild pitch. He gave up a run on three hits.
Mike Geannelis went the longest of the UMass pitchers, throwing 2.2 innings, striking out six with two walks, allowing two runs on two hits. Ben Panunzio allowed three runs on four hits in 1.2 innings, and Kevin Hassett finished off the game with 1.1 innings of two-strikeout, one-hit ball. In all, the Minutemen walked eight and delivered six wild pitches, compared to BC's one walk issued early.
Dylan Morris and John Jennings added two hits apiece with Jennings contributing two RBI on the day.
The win puts the Eagles back on the right path and improves them to 14-9 on the season, while UMass fell to 5-11. It also gets Boston College's momentum back going in the right direction in advance of Friday's game against Florida State. The Seminoles will be in town for a three-game series over the weekend, while the Minutemen continue New England rivalries with a home-and-home against Rhode Island.