Following a 2-1 win over Connecticut, the Boston College baseball team took on the University of Massachusetts Minutemen on Wednesday, searching for back-to-back wins in the team’s first games at Shea Field this season.
Massachusetts came into the game at 3-16, but didn’t make it easy for BC by any means. After falling behind in a four-run hole, BC was able to complete the comeback and win the game by a final score of 7-6.
Freshman Justin Dunn took the mound in his first career start for BC. It was immediately clear even in warm-ups, however, that his control was not on point. Dunn was extremely wild early on, walking two and uncorking a wild pitch in the first. Fortunately for BC, he was able to escape the inning with no runs allowed. In the second, Dunn’s luck ran out. Dunn walked two more batters and was pulled after only completing one and one-third innings of work, while allowing one unearned run.
BC’s pitching staff continued to struggle as Eric Stevens entered the game. Stevens only went one and two-thirds innings, allowing three hits and five runs (one earned). With two out in the third inning, Stevens appeared to be out of a jam as he forced a chopper up the middle. Shortstop Joe Cronin bobbled the ball, however, and allowed a run to score. The very next pitch was sent over the left field wall for a three-run home run by Adam Picard, and all of a sudden Massachusetts held a 6-2 lead.
It would have been understandable for a feeling of “here we go again” to creep into the minds of BC after such a tough start to the season, but it was quickly apparent that would not be the case on Wednesday. From the bottom of the third forward, the game was all BC.
“You walk around the dugout, and everybody knew that there was no doubt we were going to come back,” said sophomore right fielder Chris Shaw. “We saw what we can do when we let the results take care of themselves and just play baseball.”
For all of the struggles of BC’s first two pitchers, the rest of the bullpen performed magnificently. The trio of Nick Poore, Bobby Skogsbergh, and John Nicklas was nearly perfect, allowing just two hits over six shutout innings. Skogsbergh looked particularly impressive, picking up the win while allowing only one base runner over three innings and striking out four.
As for the Eagles’ closer, Skogsbergh remarked, “Johnny Nicklas came in and did what Johnny Nicklas does: got the save throwing fire.” The pitcher came in throwing a fastball above 90 mph, overpowering Massachusetts’ hitters and closing the door quickly on any possibility of a late comeback.
BC’s bats came alive when they had to. After falling behind by four in the third, BC was able to tie the game up by the fifth inning. Massachusetts’ pitcher Tim Cassidy, who started off strong, fell apart in the middle innings, leaving the game with four innings pitched, and six runs allowed (five earned).
Shaw, catcher Stephen Sauter, and third baseman Johnny Adams were the stories offensively for BC. Shaw went one for three with two RBIs, a run scored, and a walk. Sauter contributed two RBIs of his own, while Johnny Adams went 2-3.
Shaw spoke post-game about what this gritty, comeback win could do for the Eagles going forward. “These good, midweek wins are awesome, especially going into a series with UNC- normally a very good ball club,” Shaw said. “We know we’re going to have a tough battle this weekend, but we feel good going into it now.”