Top Story, Spring

Birdball Pummels Northeastern for Second-Straight Beanpot Title

NORTHBOROUGH, MASS. — After two at bats on Wednesday night, it just didn’t seem like Nick Sciortino’s day. Boston College’s catcher, who was moved up in the lineup to bat second this past weekend, drove the second pitch he saw to the right-center gap. It looked like a double off the bat, until center fielder Mason Koppens ranged over to make a nice running play. But that paled in comparison to the next one.

In Sciortino’s second time up, he led off the top of the fourth by crushing a deep fly ball to dead center, easily the deepest part of the park. The shot should have given BC a 1-0 lead over Northeastern, but Koppens didn’t just turn and watch it go. Instead, he got a great running jump toward the wall, put one foot up on the side, and snagged the ball just as it was about to sail into the woods beyond the New England Baseball Complex.

“We were talking in the dugout, that might have been the best play I’ve ever seen live,” Sciortino said. “Hats off to him, it was an amazing play.”

Awed as he was, Sciortino didn’t let it get to him. In his next three at bats, Sciortino knocked a double off of the left-field wall, hit a homer out to right, and lined a base hit to right—an eventual 3-5 day that easily could have been 5-5. His teammates joined in on the show, smacking two more home runs and 14 total hits in an 8-2 rout of Northeastern (19-16, 7-4 Colonial Athletic) to capture BC’s 12th overall and second consecutive Beanpot Championship.

This unusual power boost from BC (19-14, 5-11 Atlantic Coast), which ranks last in the ACC in home runs, came after a weekend where the Eagles started by scoring just two runs in two games against Notre Dame. On Sunday morning, head coach Mike Gambino decided his guys needed something a little sweet to get them going.

Specifically, sugar cookies.

In the early 2000s, after Gambino had graduated from BC and was playing for a farm team of the Red Sox, he roomed with Brady Williams, the son of Jimy Williams, who managed the Sox from 1997 to 2001. Both Gambino and Brady were going through rough stretches at the plate, and one day Brady told his father of their respective slumps. Jimmy’s answer?

“‘Go get sugar cookies from a bakery, there’s hits in sugar cookies,’” Gambino recalled him telling the pair over the phone. “‘You can’t go to it all the time, but it’ll get you going.’”

It worked then, so when Gambino saw his team struggling to get hits off the Fighting Irish, he decided to turn to it again. On Sunday afternoon, after he had gotten the guys cookies before the game, BC came firing out of the gates, plating seven runs in the first two innings. The pen slipped down the stretch, and the Eagles took the sweep in the final game in South Bend, Ind., but they finished with nine runs and 10 hits—numbers that, with the way the pitching staff’s success this season, will get them a win far more often than not.

On Wednesday, BC proved just that. Ten different men picked up a hit for the Eagles, almost all of which came on solid contact off the bat. While Sciortino clearly led the way, Logan Hoggarth wasn’t far behind, going 2-3 with a three-run homer and four total RBIs on the day in the senior’s final Beanpot game. Gian Martellini also had a long home run, his first since homering in his first collegiate game on Feb. 19.

The staff, meanwhile, cruised through eight scoreless innings before Bobby Skogsbergh ran into a bit of trouble in the ninth. Thomas Lane, Zach Stromberg, Sean Hughes, and John Witkowski—all freshmen—were especially impressive, combining to allow just three hits in the first six frames.

“We’re trying to get these guys as much experience as we can,” Gambino said. “And we believe in them, we believe it gives us a chance to win—it’s not where you’re worried about not winning the game, we think we can win the game by getting these young freshmen in the game, get them the work, and get them ready for the weekend.”

Although it might not have the same type of grandeur that the every-other-year venue of Fenway Park provides, keeping the Beanpot trophy for another year means a lot to the guys—especially those who have seen this team rise from an uncharacteristic three-year drought.

“I know they’ll keep winning the Beanpot,” Hoggarth said. “We’ll never give it back.”

Featured Image by Alec Greaney / Heights Editor

April 20, 2016