Like the perfect last bite of a masterpiece dinner, Justin Dunn walked off the mound on Saturday with one of the most memorable performances in Boston College baseball history.
With his team's season on the line, the junior righty threw a complete game, allowing only one earned run on six hits with nine strikeouts and no walks, as the Eagles defeated Georgia Tech in the first game of a doubleheader, 8-3. The win forced a winner-take-all for the series later in the day, and it set the tone for an unforgettable day in Boston College athletics.
Dunn was electric from start to finish. He needed only 106 pitches to finish off Georgia Tech, retiring his opponents in order in four of nine innings. He pitched his way out of jams in the fifth and sixth inning, then finished off the game despite giving up an unearned run in the ninth.
But it was hardly the baseline for his team's performance. Boston College jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the game's first three innings, scoring one run apiece to stake Dunn to a hearty advantage. In the first, singles from Jake Palomaki, Michael Strem, and Joe Cronin gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead, and they increased it 2-0 in the second after Mitch Bigras plated Johnny Adams with a single to left center.
Strem singled to lead off the third, then scored when Cronin singled him home with help from a fielding error by Matt Gonzalez in left field. With a third run in the books, the Eagles chased starting pitcher Jake Lee from the game after just 2.1 innings, forcing the Yellow Jackets to use five relievers in the first game of a doubleheader.
BC scored a fourth run on reliever Cole Pitts in the fifth thanks to a couple of walks and a couple of sacrifice hits, ending when Johnny Adams hit a fly ball to score Nick Sciortino. Pitts would be replaced by Micah Carpenter in the sixth, and he held the Eagle bats and baserunners at bay long enough to allow his team to plate a single run.
But Carpenter and his bullpen unraveled in the eighth. With Dunn continuing to work diligently for the Eagles, BC put the game away with four runs in the inning. After Johnny Adams singled and was sacrificed into scoring position, Bobby Gauvreau entered the game and promptly walked both Bigras and Gabe Hernandez to load the bases. That forced manager Danny Hall back out of his dugout to summon Robert Winborne from the bullpen with one out.
Winborne promptly walked Jake Palomaki, giving BC a fifth run and a second four-run lead. He then balked Mitch Bigras home on a borderline call and, after reloading the bases with an intentional walk to Strem, surrendered a huge, two-RBI double to Sciortino that missed a grand slam homer by about a foot off the wall. The hit blew the game open for good, giving the Eagles an 8-2 lead.
It was a great response for BC after Georgia Tech scored their two runs in the sixth. In that inning, they finally got to Dunn, opening up the innings with two singles to put runners on the corners. After a sacrifice fly from Gonzalez put the Yellow Jackets on the board, a throwing error on a pickoff attempt by Dunn advanced Bailey to third. Bailey scored when Dunn was charged with a borderline balk call, cutting the then-lead to 4-2.
In the ninth, Kel Johnson singled up the middle and scored on a fielding error by Gabe Hernandez when Trevor Craport hit a flyball that the Eagles left fielder just dropped. But Dunn struck out Brandt Stallings to end the game and any threat.
At the dish, Michael Strem had a monster day for the Eagles, contributing four hits and a run scored. Nick Sciortino recorded a two-hit day with two RBI, while both Joe Cronin and Johnny Adams contributed a couple of hits, the latter of which had two runs scored. Jake Palomaki went 2-4 as well with two runs scored and an RBI while working two walks.
For the Yellow Jackets, Wade Bailey kicked off what would be a big day for him with a 2-4 performance and a run scored. He was the only Yellow Jacket with multiple hits.
Dunn (3-1) solidified his first round draft status with his first career complete game and a career-high in strikeouts. Lee (3-2) absorbed the loss for the Jackets.