Top Story, Spring, Baseball

Three Home Runs Punctuate Blowout Win Over Northeastern

Anthony Maselli was a nobody.

After a three-year run as the star high school shortstop at Avon Old Farms, the freshman started low on the Eagles’ depth chart, certainly beneath the solid returning tandem of Joe Cronin and Johnny Adams on the left side of the infield. When head coach Mike Gambino had to reshuffle his lineup to accommodate injuries early this season, he turned to a different freshman, Jake Palomaki, to fill the hole. Palomaki has started nearly every game since, making his way to the leadoff spot.

Even in Boston College’s 15-inning game against North Carolina State last Saturday, when Gambino subbed in five position players, Maselli never left the bench. Maselli’s only official at-bat this season (he also had two walks entering Tuesday’s game) came in a 12-2 win over North Dakota State. He hit into a double play.

Some, including Northeastern’s play-by-play man, didn’t even know that Maselli was pinch hitting for Cronin in the bottom of the eighth on Tuesday.

“This ball is hit deep, right-center field, on the way, it’s gone! Joey Cronin goes yard!”

Of course, Maselli didn’t hear the wrong name called over the live video feed. Even if it had been broadcast across the entire field, it probably wouldn’t have registered to him. In just his second at-bat, for the first hit of his collegiate career, Maselli had hit a grand slam.

The no-name trotted around the bases, treading in the recent tracks of the three men he had driven home. Meanwhile, the updated score flashed up on the left-field board: 20-1, BC.

The BC (7-13, 1-7 ACC) lineup attacked Northeastern’s (7-13, 0-3 CAA) pitching all afternoon, eventually reaching a 22-1 rout. This was the most runs the Eagles have scored since April 15, 2003, when they handed Harvard a 24-6 loss.

The Huskies fell behind in the top of the first, when Northeastern’s starter, Isaac Lippert, made the mistake of throwing a pitch over the plate to Chris Shaw, who sent a two-run bomb to left. Lippert decided to go after Shaw the next time he came up, even though there was a runner on second and first base was open. So the cleanup man blasted a pitch over the fence in right.

Cronin followed up Shaw’s second homer with a double off the wall, and Lippert’s day was done: 2 2/3 innings, five hits, and six runs. The pitching change didn’t cool BC’s bats, which got at least one man on base each inning, and scored in all but two frames.

Johnny Adams, boosted his average up 45 points (to .197) with a 4-5 performance, including three doubles and a walk. Shaw also went 4-5, launching his average up to .260 and his team-leading OPS to .916.

“I had a pretty good feeling [the offensive outburst] was coming,” Gambino said. “It’s going to keep coming.”

In reality, it wasn’t that hard to envision. The Eagles have boasted a strong lineup all season, which has rallied against some of the top staffs in the country. The Eagles have struggled the most at the plate with runners in scoring position (RISP). Most recently, in the 15-inning marathon on Saturday, the Eagles picked up 11 hits and stranded 15 runners (resulting in a loss). On Tuesday, BC blasted 22 hits, and totalled 20 RBIs.

Overshadowed by the offensive explosion were the pitching performances by BC. John Gorman entered Tuesday with a 50-pitch limit designed to keep him available for the upcoming weekend. He shined in four innings of work, garnering three perfect innings. His only spot of trouble came in the third, when Northeastern used two singles and a fielder’s choice to manufacture a run. Gorman picked up the two other outs on swinging Ks en route to a win (by declaring the limit before the game, Gorman was eligible for a win without pitching a full five innings.)

The bullpen picked up where Gorman left off. While the Huskies began a rally against Geoffrey Murphy, he buckled down, allowing no runs and retiring the final five batters he faced. Trever Massey and Bobby Skogsbergh, who entered the game with a combined five earned runs allowed in an inning and two-thirds, allowed just one hit in a quick final three innings.

In many ways, it just wasn’t Northeastern’s day. But BC refused to let up. The team continually battered the Huskies with punches until Maselli stepped up to deliver the biggest blow.

“I don’t even remember it,” Maselli said of his grand slam after the game, cracking a smile. “I just stepped in there, saw a fastball, and just hit it.”

Maselli got a second at-bat later in the game, another appearance with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth. This time, he didn’t send the ball to the roof of the right field press box, but rolled over and pulled a ground ball to the first baseman, who took the fielders’ choice at second. He picked up his fifth RBI of the game, as well as the 22nd and final run for BC, but he also came down to Earth.

Maselli did not play his way into the starting lineup, although Gambino admitted he is excited about his future. Maselli will likely continue to sit on the bench for the course of this season. In truth, he had little to no impact on the course of the game.

But, for a little while on Tuesday, Anthony Maselli was somebody.

March 25, 2015

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