Sports can be its most beautiful in its simplicity. Regardless of the outcome of Thursday's first game between Georgia Tech and Boston College, we would always know that the rest of the series would be at its easiest to understand. The team that would lose would have to win to keep their ACC Tournament hopes (without help) alive, and the team that would win would be on the cusp of doing something pretty special.
For Boston College, it's now the former.
Georgia Tech scored four runs in the bottom of the third to rally from down 3-1, then tacked on a final insurance run in the sixth as a wild and sloppy start settled into a Yellow Jacket victory, 6-3, from Russ Chandler Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday night.
It was a game that started with three unearned runs in the first inning, two for Boston College. In the top of the first, with two outs and one on, a couple of errors put runners at the corners for Scott Braren. He doubled to right center, scoring Joe Cronin and Michael Strem to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead with both runs unearned.
Georgia Tech got one back in the bottom of the frame with one out. Wade Bailey bunted himself aboard to put a runner on, setting the stage for a sloppy, weird play off the bat of Matt Gonzalez. Gonzalez grounded to Joe Cronin, who threw across the diamond to Mitch Bigras for the second out. But Bailey took off from second for third, forcing Bigras to try a throw to third. He ball bounced off Bailey's helmet, and he scored an unearned run, halving the lead to 2-1.
Bigras got the run back for the Eagles in the top of the second. After Logan Hoggarth singled to start the inning on the first pitch he saw, he advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored when the Eagles first baseman singled through the right side. The run put BC up, 3-1, a lead they held through the bottom half of the inning.
But things went south in the third when the Yellow Jackets batted around. A single, a walk, and a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt loaded the bases against Mike King with nobody out, and Gonzalez singled through the left side to bring home two runs, tying the game at 3-3. Three batters later, following a double steal and a couple of outs, Georgia Tech reloaded the bases with another walk, and Brandt Stallings untied the game with a single to left center, scoring two to put his team up, 5-3.
An RBI single for Kel Johnson in the sixth gave Georgia Tech a sixth run in a game that settled down after the wild first three frames. Brandon Gold (7-3) worked a brisk pace that befuddled BC bats, striking out four with only one walk while allowing only the one earned run. He didn't allow anything to cross the plate after the second, finishing seven innings with nine hits allowed. Two of his four strikeouts came in the seventh when BC loaded the bases with one out.
Zac Ryan pitched the eighth for the Yellow Jackets before Matt Gorst locked down his 11th save of the year with two strikeouts in the ninth.
For the Eagles, King (7-4) pitched admirably but lasted just 5.2 innings after an incredibly long third inning. Nearly at 70 pitches in the third, he finished the last 2.2 innings on just about 30 pitches, going 106 pitches into the night with 63 strikes. He struck out two and gave up three earned runs, surrendering 10 hits. In relief, Zach Stromberg and John Nicklas didn't allow a hit, striking out two combined for the final 2.1 innings of work.
With the victory, Georgia Tech moved within a game of sealing up a bid to the ACC Tournament next week in Durham, North Carolina. The winner of this series clinches a playoff spot, making this a de factor playoff series. Both teams can make it with one win, but they need assistance from other areas. Boston College needs to win at least one game and receive sweep wins by Clemson and NC State, both of whom won their first games. But the Eagles cannot make the playoffs without winning at least one game in this series.
The Eagles will look to regroup on Friday when they send Justin Dunn to the hill. Due to ominous weather conditions, the game time has been changed to 12 PM.