Senior captain Joe Cronin hit a two-run homer in the first inning of play, and Boston College added four runs in the fifth as they ran away from the Central Michigan Chippewas with a 9-3 win in Port Charlotte, Florida on Tuesday afternoon. The win wrapped up the first non-conference portion of the schedule for BC, who improved to 10-2 on the season, and it sends the Eagles into their ACC opener as one of three teams opening the year with 10 wins.
Playing as the home team, Boston College opened up the scoring right away in the bottom of the first. Starting pitcher Grant Wolfram walked lead-off hitter Jake Palomaki, and Cronin hit a bomb to left on the second pitch he saw, giving the Eagles a 2-0 lead just seven pitches into their game. They added another run shortly thereafter when Michael Strem doubled, advanced to third on a groundout by Donovan Casey, then scored on a grounder hit by Nick Sciortino. BC put two additional runners on after singles by Gian Martellini and Mitch Bigras, but Johnny Adams struck out to end the inning.
The Chippewas chipped away at the 3-0 lead, scoring two in the second and one in the third against starting pitcher Zach Stromberg. After Stromberg recorded a strikeout to start the second, he walked Daniel Jipping and hit Jason Sullivan. Both runners moved into scoring position on a passed ball committed by Sciortino, and after he rallied to strike out Adam Collins, Morgan Oliver doubled to score both runners, making it 3-2 after two.
CMU tied things up in the third after Stromberg recorded the first two outs. He walked Dazon Cole and beaned Jipping, mirroring the second inning. He continued that mirror image when he threw one to the backstop against Robinson to move the runners into scoring position. Instead of allowing the hit to Robinson, Stromberg walked him to load the bases, setting up Sullivan for another RBI base hit, this time a single to left, tying the game at 3-3.
That sent BC to their bullpen for John Nicklas, who entered the game and struck out Jarrod Watkins, who had come in for Collins.
The score remained tied through one full inning of work before the Eagles broke it open for good in the fourth. Wolfram hit Martellini and Bigras on back-to-back pitches to open up the inning, then walked Johnny Adams on five more throws to load the bases with nobody out. Martellini scored when Gabe Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly to left, making it 4-3 in favor of the Birdballers.
The inning continued when Jake Palomaki singled up the middle to score Bigras, and both Palomaki and Johnny Adams scored when Cronin chopped one to third that Oliver misplayed, pushing two more across and making it 7-3, BC on top.
The game continued into the sixth where Cronin once again delivered. Johnny Adams led off with a single, scoring three batters later when Cronin doubled down the third base line. Cronin moved up to third when Central Michigan tried to throw out Adams at the plate. The heads up play allowed him to score easily when Michael Strem doubled to center.
Meanwhile, BC overcame the initial jitters to throw over six innings of shutout ball out of the bullpen. Nicklas (3-0) pitched 2.1 innings of solid relief to pick up another victory, allowing only one hit while striking out two and walking none. He faced only one over the minimum.
Dan Metzdorf came in for Nicklas and threw 1.2 innings of one-hit baseball on his own, striking out one and facing only seven men across that time. Sean Hughes, Kevin Connor, and Donovan Casey combined for the final 2.1 innings, with both Connor and Casey throwing full innings. They combined for two strikeouts, giving the Eagles staff eight on the afternoon.
For CMU, Wolfram (0-1) sustained the loss despite throwing six innings. He allowed nine runs, of which one was unearned, on nine hits, striking out three and walking two. Connor Kelly and Brady Williams threw the final two innings, with Williams allowing two hits but neither allowing a run.
Offensively, Cronin was the star for BC, going 3-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored. Michael Strem and Gian Martellini also contributed multi-hit games, both with two on the day. Strem and Martellini both scored runs, while Strem added an RBI.
For CMU, the offense mustered only four hits, two of which came from Morgan Oliver, as BC didn't allow a runner over the last seven to the plate. They retired the side in the sixth, eighth, and ninth innings down the stretch.
It was a big win for the Eagles, who bounced back from defeat at the hands of Butler on Monday, and it sends them into the weekend against NC State as one of three ACC teams with ten wins on the early part of the season. They'll face a Wolfpack team also with 10 wins on the year in a huge early season matchup. The weekend series will go Friday through Sunday, with the first two scheduled for 3 PM and Sunday's getaway game scheduled for 1 PM.