For the better part of the last couple of weeks, the pitching's paced Boston College, holding opposing bats at bay as the offense struggled to gain footholds and momentum. On Tuesday, a total role reversal exploded at Harvard's O'Donnell Field.
Michael Strem had a career high six RBI, while Joe Cronin added three RBI of his own as the Eagles defeated the rival Crimson, 11-9, in an game shortened to eight innings by darkness. It was a game highlighted by a 10-0 lead opened up by an exploding Birdball lineup.
BC jumped on Harvard right away, opening up a 1-0 lead in the first with their first two batters. After Jake Palomaki walked, he stole second, and Strem singled to center for his first RBI of the day before Harvard starting pitcher Simon Rosenblum-Larson recorded an out and before the Crimson had a chance to bat.
They opened it up for 4-0 in the next inning. Rosenblum-Larson hit Scott Braren to open up the inning, then surrendered a single to Johnny Adams to put two on with nobody out. After he recorded an out against Anthony Maselli, he walked Palomaki to load the bases, bringing Strem to the dish. Strem, a doubles specialist, crushed one to left field, scoring both Adams and Braren to make it 3-0. Joe Cronin made it 4-0 after he reached via an error that still counted as an RBI because Harvard was conceding the run. Rosenblum-Larson was relieved before the inning ended by Kevin Rex.
In the third, things just got worse for Harvard. A Logan Hoggarth single and stolen base put a runner on second, and a single by Braren was going to put runners on the corners. But a throwing error by the Crimson infield scored Hoggarth, making it 5-0. After a wild pitch advanced Braren to second, Johnny Adams singled and stole second to put runners on second and third. Palomaki then walked to load the bags once more, with one out, for Strem.
Harvard summoned Garrett Rupp from the bullpen to face the BC slugger, but Strem once again delivered his fourth and fifth RBI of the game, singling to left to bring in two. Now 7-0, a wild pitch moved Strem and Palomaki into scoring position for Joe Cronin, who singled to left to bring home two more. Gian Martellini singled home Cronin later in the inning, extending the Eagles lead to 10-0 into the bottom of the third.
Placed in a double digit deficit, Harvard began playing with the air of a team with nothing to lose against starting pitcher Dan Metzdorf, who had largely held them at bay through his first two frames. Patrick Robinson led off the bottom of the third with a double to left center, then advanced to third on a single by Ben Skinner. That was it for Metzdorf, who was replaced with righty Sean Hughes.
Hughes responded with a strikeout, but a wild pitch during the next at-bat got the Crimson on the board, advancing both runners one base. Matt Rothenberg then walked, and a double steal call went awry for the Eagles when Martellini threw down to second and put the ball into centerfield. Skinner scored from third on the play, with Rothenberg advancing to third, cutting the lead to 10-2.
A walk put runners again on the corners, this time for DJ Link, who promptly doubled, bringing home both runners to cut the lead to 10-4. After a walk put two on with only one out, Hughes was relieved, replaced by Carmen Giampetruzzi. He was greeted by a double off the bat of Edwin Owolo, plating a fifth run to half what was a ten-run BC lead. Giampetruzzi got out of the inning, but the damage had been done against the BC pitching staff, with a whole new game developing.
BC responded in the fourth with another RBI off the bat of Strem, his sixth on the day. He plated Scott Braren from third after the leadoff hitter to the inning singled and advanced to third via a Johnny Adams single and wild pitch, giving BC an 11-5 lead.
But Harvard chipped away at the lead, putting two across in the bottom of the fourth. Skinner walked to lead things off, then moved to second on a balk, scoring on a double by Mitch Klug. Jack Nelson came on for Giampetruzzi, but a passed ball moved Klug to third. He scored when BC conceded the run on a grounder back to the box off the bat of Rothenberg.
Both pitching staffs settled down into the seventh with neither team plating any runs, but Harvard broke through in the bottom of the seventh with another run off Nelson. Back-to-back singles by Hink and Link put two on with nobody out to lead things off, and Owolo singled Hink home two batters later to cut the lead very innocently to 11-8.
BC went to John Witkowski for the eighth, and while he was able to record two outs, they came interspersed between a walk and a catcher's interference Stephen Sauter, who entered the game in the fifth inning. With the potential tying run at the plate, Brian Rapp replaced Witkowski and surrendered a single to make it 11-9, but he induced a fly ball to end the game and give the Eagles their 17th win of the season.
For the Eagles, Jack Nelson (1-0) pitched four innings in relief to pick up his first career victory. He allowed only one run on four hits, striking out four and walking none. He faced the most batters out of any BC pitcher on the day, seeing 15 different men cross the dish, three over the minimum.
Dan Metzdorf was the only other BC pitcher to last more than one inning, throwing six outs to start hte game. He struck out two and walked one while being charged with two runs. Sean Hughes was charged with three runs while recording one out,and Carmen Giampetruzzi was charged with only one earned run despite recording two runs allowed in two outs. John Witkowski threw two outs in the ninth, but Brian Rapp (1) picked up his first carer save.
At the dish, BC got 12 hits from four different men. Michael Strem had four hits and six RBI, while Cronin went 2-5 with three RBI. Scott Braren and Johnny Adams both had three-hit games, accounting for five runs scored (Braren with three and Adams with two).
For Harvard, only three players had multi-hit games - Owolo (2-4), Hink (2-4), and Link (2-4). Link and Owolo both finished with two RBI.
On the mound for the Crimson, Rosenblum-Larson pitched 1.2 innings, while Joey Sliepka completed three innings out of the pen for the team. After the first three Crimson pitchers gave up four, four, and three runs respectively, Sliepka led a parade of pitchers that held BC scoreless through the remaining five frames.
It was an incredibly sloppy game played in wet, windy, and rainy conditions (the start time was delayed until 3:45 and the end of the game shortened by one inning due to weather and, later, darkness), with Harvard committing four errors to Boston College's three.
With the win, the Eagles improved to 17-11 and handled business in their win column while Harvard fell to 9-18. The Eagles return to the diamond on Wednesday when they host UMass in the rescheduled first round game to the Beanpot. First pitch is at 3 PM.