Oklahoma’s Walkoff Spoils Birdball’s Weekend Success

Coming off a three-game sweep by Bethune-Cookman, Boston College baseball looked for a change of momentum this weekend. It appears that a trip west was just what was need for the Eagles, as Birdball headed to Norman, Okla. for the 19 Ways Invitational to face off against Oklahoma, Northern Illinois, and Villanova.

BC (2-4) finished out the weekend against Oklahoma (8-1). The first-ever meeting with the Sooners started out strong for the Eagles. In the top of the second, BC took the early lead when a groundout to second by Mitch Bigras allowed Gian Martellini to score the first run of the day. The Sooners quickly responded, tying up the game with a Brandon Zaragoza single RBI.

From this point, BC quickly took the momentum of the game, spurred on by the strong play of sophomore pitcher Dan Metzdorf. Over the course of the next four innings, BC drove in three more runs to go up 3-1 thanks to a Michael Strem walk, a Martellini single, and an Oklahoma fielding error that allowed Palomaki to score. During this same period, Metzdorf allowed only three hits, struck out four, and retired the last 11 batters that he faced.

Going into the bottom of the eighth, BC led 4-1. The commanding lead prompted BC to make a pitching change as Zach Stromberg came in the close out the game. A walk and a single put Sooners on first and second, and a second single brought in a run for Oklahoma. This quick score by Oklahoma caused BC to switch in Bobby Skogsbergh for Stromberg midway through the bottom of the eighth. This choice proved disastrous, as a single loaded the bases which set up an easy score for the Sooners on a fielder’s choice. A passed ball by the Eagles let the tying run in for Oklahoma.

With a tie score going into the ninth, it was time for BC to step up and take back control of the game. The Eagles managed to get one hit, but they failed to gain any tangible traction as three quick outs did little to minimize the momentum gained by Oklahoma.

In the top of the ninth, Ben Hollas singled up the middle, scoring Renae Martinez and walking off with the three-run comeback win.

This game was won and lost on account of pitching. Metzdorf shined in his first game of the season as he managed only one run in seven innings and recorded a career high six strikeouts. But the Sooners quickly made up and take the lead once Metzdorf came out after the seventh inning. A pitching change at the top of the eighth had the opposite effect for Oklahoma as BC struggled to get hits late in the game when they needed them most. This game is a story of closing pitching letting the offense down, but it also shows how the batting was not able to support the pitching late when it was most needed.

The Eagles were confident going into their matchup against Villanova (0-7). This confidence appeared to be misplaced by the end of the first inning. While BC failed to register a single hit, Villanova managed five hits and three runs against Matt Gill. Going into the second inning, the Eagles could have let themselves get flustered and throw away the game, but instead they remained calm in both facets of the game. The pitching staff chose to leave Gill in the game, proving to be the correct choice in the end. The Wildcats only managed to get one more hit out of Gill and scored no more runs for the rest of the game. The offense responded in the third inning as an RBI from Bigras finally put the Eagles on the board and a double from Martellini added three more runs to the Eagles’ total, giving them the lead for the first time in the game.

The Eagles continued to dominate, scoring two more in the sixth, one in the seventh, and three in the eighth. Despite a slow start, the Eagles were able to persevere and come away with a big 10-3 win against the Wildcats.

The week started out in a very sunny way for the Eagles as they won their first game of the invitational against Northern Illinois (2-5). The end score of 9-1 would suggest that the Eagles dominated the game throughout, but this was not the case. It was Northern Illinois who scored the first run of the game at the top of the second. It seems that this run finally woke up the Eagles, as they responded with four runs in the bottom of the second and five more in the eighth. The Huskies failed to register any more hits for the rest of the game as the Eagles turned what was at first a concerning game into a convincing game.

Just as was the case for the game against Oklahoma, pitching is what set BC apart in this game. Right-handed pitcher Jacob Stevens dominated the day as he allowed just two hits in a career high seven innings of play. Stevens’ stock has been on the rise so far this season, as he has yet to give up an earned run in 13 innings of play over two games.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

February 27, 2017