Birdball Sweeps Non-Conference Slate Against URI And Bryant

Anyone who has ever spoken about sports in any form will tell you that defense wins ballgames, but damn, what’s more fun than some high-scoring baseball?

The Boston College Eagles (24-21, 9-14 ACC) topped the Bryant Bulldogs (17-18, 8-4 NEC) in the offense-minded contest 11-5 on Wednesday afternoon. Early on, it was obvious that the game was going to be all about the teams’ offenses when the Bulldogs came out in the first inning with some fundamentally sound baseball. They ended up with a run on the board after a stolen base and a deep sacrifice fly.

BC wasted no time, however, answering in the bottom of the first and put up a staggering five runs on three hits that would set the tone for the rest of the day. This explosive attack forced Bulldog pitcher James Patterson to return to the dugout after only facing four batters on the day.

The Eagles found great success in getting men on base early in innings, having the leadoff man reach safely in six of the eight innings, and in baseball, men on base with no outs means a lot of RBI opportunities. Driving in runs became nearly second nature for catcher Stephen Sauter today, who finished the game with a career high four RBIs off of his three hits. After the game, he would note, “This week I worked on keeping my swing shorter and the guys in front of me did a good job with getting on base, and I just got some pitches to hit and connected.”

Humble words from someone who excelled both offensively and behind the plate for the Eagles. Sophomore Johnny Adams also hopped on board the RBI bandwagon, racking up two critical RBI’s in the fifth when Bryant started to answer back.

Despite all the success with the bats, there was a scary moment in the second inning when first baseman Joe Cronin left the game after an at-bat with an apparent shoulder injury. After the game, Coach Gambino commented that his non-throwing shoulder had been bothering him for some time, and that he will be listed as questionable for Friday’s game against Virginia Tech. Cronin was replaced today by Scott Braren, who doubled in the eighth and came around to score.

Offense was definitely a high point for the Eagles in this one, but the pitching effort brought forward by the bullpen was also nothing to scoff at. Starter Eric Stone snagged his fourth win of the year, pitching four innings while collecting five earned runs off six hits and striking out two along the way before being bailed out by Tyler Hinchliffe in the top of the fifth. Middle reliever Brian Rapp then retired the first five batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings, striking out two and setting his defense up to make easy ground ball outs.

John Nicklas came on in the seventh and after hitting his first batter and walking the second, retired the next three with ease, setting up Justin Dunn to close out the game. Dunn was not playing around, throwing heat from the second he graced the mound. The only three Bulldog batters he faced were obviously struggling to catch up with his 92 mph fastballs.

This game marks a second straight win for the Eagles after notching a win Tuesday over the University of Rhode Island (17-18-1, 10-5 A10). In that game, BC also got out to a hot start, scoring five runs in the first inning and creating an insurmountable six run lead by the start of the third inning.

Geoffrey Murphy looked strong out of the bullpen and let up only a single hit in his four inning stint while snagging his first win of the year. Michael Strem was a key factor for the Eagles offensively, going 3-of-4 with a double and an RBI in the 7th inning. When asked about his team’s performance yesterday, Coach Gambino was proud, but felt that they “relaxed” a little too much after creating a large lead. Today however he felt that the guys did a better job “in continuing to play and continuing to hit and continuing to score runs, which obviously made the difference.”

It sure did, Coach. It sure did.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Staff

April 30, 2015