When teams play each other for a fourth consecutive game, there's no secrets or surprises. They both know what each is capable of doing, and they know what they have to do in order to stop it. The chess match turns into a simpler form of checkers, and it simply boils down to who can execute their game and impose their will better than the other guy.
After beating Georgia Tech in two out of three games this past weekend, Boston College found themselves on the receiving end of the Yellow Jackets' will on Tuesday. Starting pitcher Brandon Gold (8-3) threw 6.2 innings of sensational baseball, needing only 92 pitches to reach that point, scattering seven hits with five strikeouts. He handed the ball to Matthew Gorst, arguably the best closer in college baseball this year, who went 2.1 innings. With both of them executing, it didn't matter what happened on the other side of the ball.
But in the end, the Yellow Jackets scored a couple of scattered runs before the later innings, then salted away a victory in the ACC Tournament first round with three runs in the ninth as they defeated the Eagles, 6-0, at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina. The decision eliminated Boston College from the ACC Tournament, while the Yellow Jackets advanced to pool play and a date with the Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday afternoon.
It was a dead-locked pitching duel for the first few innings as Gold engaged in a head-to-head battle with southpaw Jesse Adams. Adams, normally a reliever, found himself rolling through the first few innings in his first start since before the Virginia series.
He made only a couple of mistake pitches throughout his outing, surrendering a double to Connor Justus and a single to Wade Bailey in the third inning to put Georgia Tech up 1-0. In the fourth, he hung a pitch to Trevor Craport with one out that was drilled over the left field wall, clearing the "Blue Monster" to give the Jackets a 2-0 advantage.
Beyond those pitches, he surrendered three walks but rallied to perform solidly. He allowed only two other hits through the remainder of his day, striking out two. Adams (5-5) would finish 4.1 innings before handing the ball over to Mike King, who was used in a relief appearance after throwing 100+ pitches four days prior. King threw 48 pitches through 3.2 innings, allowing only one run on four hits with a walk.
That run came in the top of the sixth when Georgia Tech once again worked with lethal, quick efficiency. Tristin English led off with a single to left, then moved up to second on a wild pitch. Brandt Stallings doubled to left to plate the runner, putting Georgia Tech up by three.
But Boston College couldn't muster anything against Gold. In the sixth inning, they loaded the bases but failed to put a run across. With two on and one out, Gold hit Nick Sciortino to load the bags, but Joe Cronin hit a shallow fly ball to right and Scott Braren grounded out to second to end the threat.
In the seventh, Logan Hoggarth hit a one-out single, then hit the turbo key on the way to third on a single by Chris Balogh. After Matt Gorst (save, 12) came on in relief, Palomaki drew a walk to load the bases with two outs, but Michael Strem flew out to center to end the inning.
With the baseball gods appearing more ominous against the Eagles, the ninth inning put the icing on the cake for the Yellow Jackets. John Nicklas came onto pitch for the Eagles and gave up two long balls, a solo homer to Matt Gonzalez and a two-run shot from Tristin English. That opened the game to 6-0, putting the result out of reach for the Eagles.
At the plate, the Eagles failed to score despite nine hits, including two apiece from Palomaki, Johnny Adams, and Hoggarth. They stranded nine.
Georgia Tech, meanwhile, received three hits from Tristin English, who also registered two RBI and two runs scored. Trevor Craport went 2-4 on the day, and Matt Gonzalez delivered with two hits of his own. Amazingly, Georgia Tech actually left more men on than the Eagles, stranding 11 on the paths.
The win was much-needed for Georgia Tech's postseason resume, and it assured them at least three more games against top-seeded competition from the ACC. They'll play Pool A against Miami, Florida State, and NC State, all of whom are currently predicted to host regionals when the NCAA Tournament field is announced on Monday, opening up on Wednesday at 3 PM against the top-seeded and second-ranked Hurricanes.
The Eagles, meanwhile, join Duke on the list of teams awaiting their fate after the Blue Devils lost in the early session to Wake Forest. The NCAA Tournament selection show airs Monday at 12 PM.