At some point, the first game of the three game series between Boston College and Wake Forest ceased to be just a baseball game. After four hours plus on the diamond, it became a war of attrition, a test of both mental and physical limits.
It was a game of momentum, one where each team landed shot after shot. Boston College had a lead, but it evaporated as Wake Forest stormed back for a lead of their own. But the Eagles never really went away, and though the game ended in an 8-6 defeat, it was a long day that would test the mettle of both dugouts. All that and it was only the first game of three this weekend.
BC opened the scoring almost immediately, tallying three runs in the bottom of the first against Wake Forest starting pitcher Parker Dunshee. With two on and two outs, Dunshee walked Scott Braren to load the bases, then walked Johnny Adams, both on full counts, to score Michael Strem, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Logan Hoggarth then mashed the first pitch he saw up the middle, scoring two more to put the Eagles up 3-0.
In the third, the teams traded runs to keep the Eagles lead at three. Gavin Sheets singled home Nate Mondou to cut into the BC lead, making the score 3-1, but the home team responded in the bottom of the inning, again with two outs. Scott Braren doubled down the left field line, and he scored when Johnny Adams hit one to short that Johnny Aiello airmailed on a throw to first, giving BC a 4-1 advantage.
The lead wouldn't hold. Jacob Stevens, who had danced his way out of trouble to that point, found himself in a jam in the fourth when he walked Ben Breazeale and beaned both Aiello and Jonathan Pryor. With the bases loaded, he got the first out via an infield fly, but a Mondou single to left and a Stuart Fairchild sacrifice fly to right brought the Deacons within one at a 4-3 game.
Mike Gambino came out of the dugout on a quick hook, bringing in Brian Rapp from the bullpen with two outs. Against Will Craig, he induced a grounder on the first pitch he threw, getting BC out of the inning but with their lead cut to one.
Knocking on the door for two innings, Wake finally kicked it in during the sixth. Rapp got two quick outs, K'ing both Aiello and Pryor, but he walked Joey Rodriguez to keep the inning alive. That brought up the guts of the dangerous Wake lineup, loading the bases after Mondou singled and Fairchild drew a full-count walk. With Will Craig coming up, Gambino went back to his bullpen again, this time for freshman John Witkowski. After getting Craig to two strikes, he threw two balls, then delivered one that the slugger hit through the right side, scoring two. Although Gavin Sheets flew out to end the inning, the lead was gone, and Wake Forest found themselves ahead 5-4.
They made it 8-4 during the next inning. Witkowski again got two quick outs for the Eagles, then loaded the bases, this time with a single and two hit batsman. With Mondou striding to the plate, Gambino went to the bullpen for a third time, this time bringing in Dan Metzdorf. His second pitch was singled up the middle, bringing in two runs, chasing Metzdorf after one batter and a 7-4 deficit.
Jack Nelson walked Fairchild to reload the bases, then hit Will Craig with the first pitch he threw, scoring the runner from third and making it a four run lead for the visitors at the stretch.
BC did not go quietly. In the bottom of the seventh, they added a run with one out. Strem drew a four-pitch, leadoff walk, and after Sciortino flew out, Joe Cronin drew a free pass to put runners on first and second. That set up Braren in the clutch, and he delivered, singling to right center to score Strem, cutting into the Wake lead, 8-5.
In the eighth, after two strikeouts to start the inning, the Eagles added another run. Palomaki doubled, then advanced to third on a wild pitch, and after Strem walked, Sciortino singled, plating the run from third to make it 8-6.
In the ninth, with two outs, two walks and an error loaded the bases for the BC offense, with the potential tying run at second, but Palomaki flew out to left, ending the game.
A long day at the office saw the Eagles use six pitchers in total. Stevens went 3.2 innings to start, allowing three runs, one unearned, on four hits. He walked three and struck out two on 80 pitches.
He was relieved by Rapp, who took the loss (1-2) after throwing two innings. He was charged with two runs on two hits, two walks, and two strikeouts. John Witkowski came on for him, throwing one inning total, charged with three runs on two hits. Dan Metzdorf, Jack Nelson, and Zach Stromberg combined for the final 2.1 innings of shutout ball.
For Wake Forest, Dunshee rebounded from a rough start to pick up the win (7-3). He went five innings, throwing 106 pitches, allowing four runs, three earned, on five hits. He was effective with six strikeouts, but he was also wild, walking five.
Dunshee gave way to Donnie Sellers, who threw two innings with one run allowed on two hits, no strikeouts, and three walks. And Sellers gave the ball to Craig, the slugger who finished with three RBI, for the final two innings. He allowed a run on two hits and three walks with three strikeouts.
At the dish, Craig and Mondou both had three RBI for Wake Forest, with Mondou adding a 5-for-6 performance at the dish. Wake in total pounded 13 hits against BC pitchers.
For the Eagles, Hoggarth had two RBI but only Palomaki and Braren had multi-hit games. Braren and Michael Strem added two runs scored as BC went for nine hits in total. Wake Forest committed three errors in the field, including one in the ninth to set up the bases loaded situation.
With the win, the Eagles lost a little bit of ground in the race for the final ACC playoff slot. Duke remained idle and will not play conference games this weekend, while Clemson defeated NC State and Pittsburgh beat Notre Dame. Helping the BC cause is a North Carolina loss to Louisville.
The Eagles will play a rescheduled doubleheader on Saturday as part of ALS Awareness Day at Shea Field. In between the first and second games of the twinbill, the Eagles will retire the jersey of Pete Frates, their former captain and current director of baseball operations.