King, Eagles Take Rubber Match Over Virginia Tech

When head coach Mike Gambino took the Boston College baseball job six years ago, he brought with him a special formula which he thought BC could utilize to win games in the incredibly strong ACC. Understanding that BC doesn’t attract the same-caliber talent as the southern schools, Gambino knew he had to attract the perfect combination of hard-working players, and build up a pitching staff and defense that could quiet the talented bats of the ACC.

“Our team is built to pitch, play D, and then have a lineup that can fight and scrap for runs,” Gambino said after the game today.

In the rubber match of a three game series against Virginia Tech (15-30, 5-19 Atlantic Coast) on Sunday morning, BC (23-17, 9-13) played its ideal form of Birdball on its way to an impressive 4-1 victory in a game that barely took over two hours to finish.

Junior starting pitcher Mike King had an outstanding game for the Eagles as he went the distance, allowing just five hits and one run with six strikeouts while only throwing 110 pitches. His two-seam fastball was touching just 90 miles per hour but showed incredible movement for the eager scouts sitting behind home plate, as he impressed in a different way from Saturday’s flame-throwing starter, Justin Dunn, who tops out at 98 miles per hour.

“You can throw the radar gun away when King is on the mound because his fastball is unhittable with its late-life movement,” Gambino said.

While he didn’t strike out batters with blazing heat like Dunn, King forced 12 groundouts with pitches that pounded the lower half of the zone. Junior shortstop, Johnny Adams, was a machine behind King, with seven assists recorded.

Virginia Tech’s only run came in the fourth inning to make it a 4-1 game. The Hokies had runners on second and third with no outs, but King stuck to his game plan of forcing ground balls and it enabled him to get out of the jam with just one run coming on an RBI ground out to the BC shortstop Adams. For King, keeping the ball down in the zone was the difference.

“In the past two weeks you could see that I had more fly balls than ground balls. Today, getting a lot of ground-ball outs felt good—it enabled me to get back to my former self,” King said.

King cruised after his one blip in the fourth, in an otherwise near-perfect outing, allowing three singles spread out over the final five innings. Right through the end of the game, King showed remarkable consistency with his placement of pitches, as Virginia Tech failed to make any sort of solid contact with the ball.  

As King mowed down the Hokies’ lineup, the Eagles were able to avoid falling behind early like they did on Friday against the Hokies in their 5-0 loss. This enabled BC to play exactly the brand of baseball it wanted to on the offensive side. Gambino called for a sacrifice bunt to BC’s advantage three different times to move base runners along into scoring position, before Adams, Mitch Bigras, and Dominic Hardaway each delivered timely singles to knock in the Eagles’ four runs. All four runs for the Eagles were scored with two outs, underscoring how BC executed its game plan of scrapping for runs.

For the Hokies, Nic Enright, an inexperienced freshman starter who came in sporting a 7.93 earned run average through four starts, was on the mound. Enright lasted five innings for Virginia Tech allowing seven hits and all four runs. Just two of them, however, were earned as a result of two errors by the Hokies’ middle infield. The Eagles did not hit Enright particularly hard, getting only one extra-base hit—a second-inning double by Gian Martellini—off him.

BC was at its best today in a crucial conference game, putting forth an exciting and complete team effort. Great pitching was bolstered by timely hits and outstanding fielding, as well as catcher Nick Sciortino’s 15th time catching a runner stealing. When Birdball plays the way Gambino gameplans, it’s a fascinating sight. The Eagles’ combination of strategy, talent, and enthusiasm brought light to a cold and rainy Sunday morning.

Featured Image by Taylor Perison / Heights Staff

May 1, 2016

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