Top Story, Spring, Baseball

Eagles Grab 11th Beanpot Championship Behind Cronin’s Homer

“Being a Red Sox fan, getting to play at Fenway, winning a championship at Fenway, no one else can say they’ve done that. It’s great.”

-Joe Cronin

BOSTON—Tom Cheek leaned close to the microphone. Bottom of the ninth, two runners on, the Toronto Blue Jays down 6-5 to the Philadelphia Phillies, leading three games to two in the 1993 World Series, and Joe Carter stepped to the plate—a dream situation for both the batter and the announcer.

Carter delivered with one swing, sneaking a three-run home run into the left field corner of the Skydome, giving the Jays their second championship in as many years.

As the slugger rounded the bases, leaping up in excitement, Cheek burst out in joy. “Touch ‘em all, Joe!” Cheek screamed for television sets across North America to hear and remember for generations. “You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!”

It’s too early in the baseball career of Boston College’s own Joe—first baseman Joe Cronin—to know if his home run on Wednesday will be the biggest in his life.

But this wasn’t your average home run.

This was the game-winning run for the Eagles (22-18, 9-11 ACC) in a 2-0 victory over the University of Massachusetts (11-16, 7-8 A-10) to clinch BC’s 11th Beanpot Championship in the country’s most famous stadium: the Boston Red Sox’ Fenway Park.

In the bottom of the first inning, Cronin lofted a pitch from pitcher Mike Geannelis into deep left-center. Although it would have been a gimme shot at any other park, Sox fans like Cronin know that the 37-foot tall Green Monster looms in Fenway’s outfield, aiming on this day to gobble fly balls from bright-eyed baseball hopefuls.

Fortunately for Cronin, he hit Geannelis’ fastball on the sweet spot of the bat and, with some help from powerful gusts of wind, the ball clanked the empty seats. With that swing, BC’s bench exploded in cheers.

“It’s great to finally catch up to some fastballs,” Cronin said. “[Outfielder] Chris [Shaw] told me, obviously, as he always does every at bat, to hit one over the wall. That was the most excited I’ve seen them.”

And Cronin wasn’t done smacking balls toward left. He also clanged a double off the Monster in the second, two or three feet away from a second home run, as well as a loud line drive in the seventh just a few inches shy of fair territory.

“He might have hit the second one harder,” BC head coach Mike Gambino said. “It was just on a line and ran into the wall.”

Cronin’s huge offensive game may help him get back into a groove this season. The junior had a batting average of .229 entering today’s game—second-lowest among team starters—and has only hit three home runs in his career. Yet his teammates aren’t surprised by his burst of power.

“Where he hit it was just incredible,” said starting pitcher Nick Poore, who tossed four innings while allowing two doubles and four strikeouts. “Joe’s got some power.”

Outside of Cronin, Gambino did not like what he saw from his offense. The Eagles struggled with situational hitting, failing to get down bunts in critical spots, leaving eight runners on base, and striking out nine times.

“We won the ballgame, we won a Beanpot, and I’m excited and that’s awesome, but I’m not happy with what we did offensively today,” Gambino said.

Regardless, the Beanpot victory extends the team’s win streak to six games. Many on the team believe this gives the Eagles momentum as they head into a crucial three-game weekend series in Chapel Hill, N.C. against ACC opponent North Carolina. In addition, it gives this class of BC players their first Beanpot victory.

“To say [after this game] that you’re one of the best Northeastern teams, it just reasserts our dominance,” said left fielder Logan Hoggarth, who had two hits and a walk in the win.

The team will share the memories of taking home a Beanpot title in a game at Fenway. But for Cronin, a New England kid who grew up rooting for the Red Sox, it was a dream situation: hitting a game-winning RBI over the world’s most famous outfield fence to help BC win a championship and defeat its biggest rivals. “I never thought I’d hit a home run over the Green Monster,” Cronin said. “It’s something that I’ll have forever.”

When you add in those factors, that home run might be tough for him to beat.

Featured Image by Daniella Fasciano / Heights Editor

April 23, 2015