In Battle of New England’s Best, Bryant Pummels Birdball

In baseball, pitchers are often advised to have a short-term memory. Whatever the results of your last outing might be, good or bad, it must be left in the past—there’s no time to dwell on what’s already happened. Boston College baseball (21-16, 7-12 Atlantic Coast) hosted Bryant University (30-7, 13-1 Northeast) on a beautiful afternoon Wednesday at Shea Field, but it was not such a beautiful game for Birdball, as it found itself on the receiving end of an 18-6 beatdown at the hands of the Bulldogs. While no one who attended the game would classify the contest as memorable, the Eagles are going to have a hard time trying to forget.

The Eagles’ pitching staff, which is held in high regard as the team’s backbone, was broken early beyond repair. The staff—which consisted of six freshmen and two sophomores—combined to allow 18 runs on 19 hits and eight walks. The run and hit totals allowed by the staff are the highest since April 3, 2011 when BC lost to the University of Miami, 19-4.

The onslaught began early with the Bulldogs tallying three runs before freshman BC starter Thomas Lane could record his first, and only, out of the game. They went on to score three more runs in the inning before the Eagles got a chance to rebut. The Eagles responded with one of their own before Bryant scored another two in the top of the second.

With the score at 8-1, it would’ve been easy for the Eagles to surrender, but they continued to fight. Birdball took advantage of a throwing error on a bunt by sophomore Jake Palomaki and well-placed sacrifices to scratch three runs across and keep the game competitive.

In the top of the fourth, however, Bryant continued to pile on the offense, putting up four runs and keeping BC at an arm’s length. But again, BC did not roll over. Birdball loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth, and it looked as though it had another chance to make the game competitive again.

Yet this time, it wasn’t meant to be. A strikeout and a lazy fly ball left the bases loaded for senior Scott Braren. On a 2-2 count junior Oliver Powers would dial up some velocity, getting Braren to swing through a high fastball, stranding three Eagles. It seemed as though once the pop of the catcher’s mitt was heard, the Eagles gave up the ghost.

Despite scoring two runs on walks in the bottom of the ninth, the most exciting moment of the final four innings came when a foul ball caromed off the Beacon Street garage into a garbage can behind the backstop, eliciting a halfhearted cheer from nearby fans. The Eagles got 13 hits, but never at the right times, and they left 13 men on base.

The high-powered Bryant offense scored in six of the nine innings, and had at least one batter reach base in every inning. It even took five innings for it to record its first strikeout of the day. It put on a masterful display of situational hitting, and strung together long chains of quality at bats. Seniors Zach Wood and Robby Rinn combined for seven hits and eight RBIs leading the offensive charge. It was truly a team effort, however, with eight of the nine starters collecting at least one hit and at least one RBI.

After an upset series win over No. 4 Louisville, such a bad loss will certainly stunt the Birdball’s momentum.

“We are built on pitching and defense,” head coach Mike Gambino said. “If we’re not pitching it, we’re not going to have a great chance.”

Birdball will welcome ACC opponent Virginia Tech this weekend in an important conference series, so there is no time to dwell on the loss. When asked what he is going to emphasize in the following 43 hours until the first pitch against the Hokies, Gambino summed it up concisely: “We’re not happy with what happened here. We’re going to learn from it. We’re going to regroup. The message is we are going to get back to doing what we do.”

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

April 28, 2016