Top Story, Spring, Baseball

Birdball Finishes Weekend With Sweep Of Duke

There’s a certain amount of discrepancy about the longest home run ever hit. It stands as a disputed issue because it’s impossible to know for sure—the colorful tracking systems currently employed today in the Major Leagues, and most prominently in the Home Run Derby, have existed for a mere fragment of baseball’s history. According to estimations in the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest home run travelled 634 feet, blasted clear out of Detroit’s Briggs Stadium by Mickey Mantle in 1960. Some estimations have Mantle blasting balls over 700 feet, but it’s hard to trust the blind eye of sports reporters.

Unfortunately for fans of college baseball, not all games are professionally recorded and streamed as they are in professional leagues. Estimating distance is once again wrenched from the hands of the mathematician and returned to the on-scene observer. Those who stayed long enough for Boston College’s baseball game on Saturday had their own chance to awe over a shot hit by the Eagles’ Chris Shaw.

“It was one of the farthest home runs I’ve ever seen,” BC head coach Mike Gambino said. “If we were playing at Yankee Stadium, it would have been in the upper deck. If we were playing at Fenway, it would have been deep into the bleachers.”

Duke closer Kenny Koplove had entered a tie game in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday. His team had just come back from a 3-1 deficit in the top of the frame, while his predecessor, Ryan Day, had allowed a base hit and a sacrifice bunt. With one down, Koplove walked Michael Strem, bringing Shaw to the plate. Koplove left a 1-0 fastball up in the zone, Shaw swung, and Boston College (11-13, 4-7 ACC) had suddenly won its second game of the series. On Sunday, the Eagles completed the three-game sweep, taking down Duke (19-9, 4-8 ACC), 5-4, in the finale.

As a New England school that doesn’t have the baseball facilities to deal adequately with New England’s climate, BC has yet to make an appearance on its home field. Instead, Birdball began its second should-be home series at another neutral location (Bob Hannah Stadium in Newark, Del., home of the Fightin‘ Blue Hens).

In this series, building off two non-conference wins during the week against Northeastern University and the College of Holy Cross, the Eagles finally looked at home. Jeff Burke continued to be a solid Friday-afternoon starter for BC, hurling five shutout innings. Justin Dunn came in to pitch the final four innings—he allowed just one run on on two hits and a walk, striking out four in a save reminiscent of Lee Smith or Dennis Eckersley.

Mike King, who has dazzled of-late in the bullpen, made his first start of the season, allowing just one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings. Although Jesse Adams and John Nicklas would combine to blow the lead in the ninth, an error to start the inning made both runs unearned.

John Gorman didn’t have his best stuff on Sunday in the series finale—he allowed seven hits and four earned runs in six innings’ work—but he pitched just well enough for his team to hold the lead, and Adams, Nicklas, and Dunn strung together a quick seventh, eighth, and ninth.

This strong pitching is perhaps an even better sign than the 22-1 win BC had over Northeastern on Tuesday. The team has had the ability to score runs all season long—now that the pitching is getting on board for the Eagles (and the fact that they don’t have any ranked teams left on their schedule), the team is looking in better and better shape for a strong run for the postseason in April.

Featured Image by Michael Sullivan / Heights Editor

March 30, 2015

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