There's an old adage in baseball that good pitching always beats good hitting. After two games in their series, the Louisville Cardinals might be solemnly agreeing while the Boston College Eagles enthusiastically nod in unison.
Louisville scattered eight hits, just two in the final three innings, as BC rallied from down 1-0 at the seventh inning stretch, first to tie and then to walk off a winner on Saturday afternoon before nearly 1,000 fans at Shea Field by a 2-1 result. Nick Sciortino's base hit in the bottom of the ninth with runners on the corners and one out scored pinch runner Jake Alu, and the Eagles clinched a series victory with the fourth-ranked team in the nation.
Tied at 1-1 into the bottom of the ninth thanks to a stellar two innings by Bobby Skogsbergh, Scott Braren pinch hit for Gabe Hernandez with a single to left. He was quickly subbed out for Alu, who advanced to third two batters later on a single by Jake Palomaki. That set up Sciortino, who with his second hit of the game drove in the run, giving BC an almost surgical ninth inning walk off winner.
It was a game that started out as a hyped pitcher's duel between two of the best arms in the ACC. Drew Harrington and Justin Dunn went toe-to-toe for six innings, with just one run scored between the two teams. It came at the expense of Dunn in the fifth, when one bad pitch out of the 81 he threw came to Danny Rosenbaum.
Rosenbaum blasted it over the wall, homering to start the fifth and give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. It was the only blemish on an otherwise electric day for the righty Dunn, who struck out four and allowed only six hits. The homer was the only extra base hit he allowed.
That contrasted with Harrington, who would last until after two outs in the seventh. He allowed only five hits, striking out four and walking one. Like Dunn, he gave up only one extra base hit over a 101-pitch performance. Of the 28 batters Harrington faced, 11 beat down grounders for outs, and he pounded the zone for 60 strikes, lowering his ERA to a near-league best 1.39.
It was against Harrington, though, that BC tied the game with some good old fashioned small ball. Logan Hoggarth led off the inning with a single after working a three-ball count. After moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hernandez, he advanced to third on a ground ball out hit by pinch hitter Stephen Sauter. That enabled Palomaki to work a full count before singling to left center, scoring the runner from third and tying the game at 1-1, ending the day for the Louisville starter.
The run came after a contrasted jam BC pitching wound up in to start the seventh. Brian Rapp started the inning for BC, giving up a leadoff single to catcher Will Smith. Smith stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball with one out. After walking pinch hitter Colby Fitch and striking out Logan Taylor, Louisville found themselves with runners on the corners and two out. That drew Mike Gambino to the mound to summon John Nicklas, who walked Corey Ray to load the bases before rallying to retire Drew Ellis on a fly ball.
With the exception of the sixth, that was as close Louisville got on the day. In that sixth inning, flashy defense from Hernandez and Johnny Adams book-ended a BB-gun throw by Logan Hoggarth to nail Ellis trying to score from second on a single by Devin Hairston. On the day, the Cardinals had eight hits and stranded nine as BC worked their way out of trouble. It was a contrast to Friday, where the Eagles scattered seven hits and forced the Cards to leave only five men on.
After Nicklas got out of the inning, Dan Metzdorf started the eighth but after a walk was replaced by Skogsbergh. He retired six of seven to end the game, allowing only one hit and striking out two in two innings of work.
As for the Cardinals, the Eagles won the game in the ninth against one of the very best in the game. Zack Burdi, who went 6-1 with nine saves and a 0.94 ERA last year (and already has four saves this year), absorbed just his third career loss to fall to 1-2 on the season. He gave up one run on three hits while retiring an out in the ninth. Jake Sparger threw 1.1 innings in between the two, striking out two and walking one.
At the dish, BC received multi-hit games from Palomaki and Sciortino at the top of the order, and they combined for the two RBI the Eagles needed to get the series-clinching win. Logan Hoggarth went 2-4 with a run scored as BC recorded eight hits on the day.
The Cardinals, also with eight hits, received six of them from Brendan McKay, Devin Hairston, and Danny Rosenbaum, who also added the solo homer.
With the win, Boston College clinched the series against the Cardinals while improving to 2-3 lifetime against them. They'll go for the clean sweep on Sunday at 12 PM.