Tar Heels Outscore BC by 24 Runs in Sunday Doubleheader

A Brian Rapp pitch struck Cody Roberts, and the North Carolina catcher trotted to first. Minutes later, Rapp walked Michael Busch. Before the junior pitcher knew it, two men were on base with only one out. It may have looked like a small second-inning jam, but it was the beginning of the end for Boston College baseball.

Logan Warmoth singled through the hole on the left side, scoring Cody Roberts. Immediately after that, Ashton McGee drew a walk, loading the bases. Then, Kyle Datres chopped one to third, which got underneath Brian Dempsey’s glove. The ball rolled into left field, giving the Tar Heels enough time to clear the bases. To make matters worse for BC, Brandon Riley followed up with a single into the left-center gap, scoring Datres and extending the UNC lead to seven.

Like the first game of the doubleheader, the Tar Heels distanced themselves from the Eagles in just a few innings of work. And BC’s deficit would only increase as the game went on. UNC tacked on eight more runs to cap off a 15-3 victory and a series sweep.

Having already used four pitchers in the first of Sunday’s two games, BC (9-20, 1-14 Atlantic Coast) turned to Brian Rapp to start the latter. But, right from the get-go, the No. 4 Tar Heels (26-6, 12-3) jumped out to a two-run lead.

Brian Miller started things off with a line drive directed Mitch Bigras’ way. The 6-foot-6 first baseman stretched to make the catch, but despite getting a glove on it, couldn’t come down with it. Instead the ball ricocheted off of his mit, allowing Miller to scamper to second. Warmoth and McGee played a little small ball to knock in Miller.

With two outs, Kevin Datres singled to center. Next, Brandon Riley hit a line drive over the head of Bigras. Now, with runners on the corners, Riley stole second. Eagles catcher Aaron Soucy took the bait and threw to second, but Jake Alu cut it off and, as Datres was on his way home, and zipped it back to Soucy. Yet, the tag was late, and Datres scored.

Meanwhile, Austin Bergner retired the side in his half of the frame. As a result, only minutes separated UNC’s first two plate appearances. To no one’s surprise, the Tar Heel’s continued to build momentum. Thanks to a few walks and clutch hits from both Datres and Riley, UNC widened its lead to seven.

Already in desperation mode, BC fired back. Well, sort of. Gian Martellini drew a walk, and Bigras shot one through the gap on the left side, moving a man into scoring position. Tactically, Alu grounded out to first, shifting the runners over. Jacob Yish also grounded out, but recorded the RBI on the play, as Martellini crossed the plate. Unlike the first game of the day, BC was on the board prior to the sixth inning, albeit one run. But it would take hours for head coach Mike Gambino’s crew to add anything else.

UNC wasn’t waiting. The Tar Heels rattled off three more runs in the next inning, forcing Gambino’s hand in the fourth. Jack Nelson—the first of three relievers—had to take the hill to slow the bleeding. But even he, who has had the hot hand of late, couldn’t get it done. Due to a combination of walks, an error, and a monster double by Roberts, the Tar Heels put together another three-run inning in the fifth, extending their lead to 12.

For the ensuing two innings, both sides traded scoreless frames. Donovan Casey offered Gambino some stability at the rubber, fanning two and holding the Tar Heels hitless. But as soon as Michael Strem came in for Casey, scoring resumed.

Roberts’ field day continued as he singled through the left side. He would then advance to second on a wild pitch. Busch and Miller scored Roberts on a pair of sacrifice flies. As soon as it looked like Strem was going to escape, Warmoth roped on over the left-field fence.

The Eagles retaliated with two runs of their own. After two quick outs, Dante Baldelli drew a walk. Anthony Maselli proceed to double down the right-field line. To complete the two-out “rally,” Strem singled up the middle, scoring both Baldelli and Maselli.

Neither team scored in the eighth, and due to the complexion of the game and the timing of the first game of the doubleheader, both sides agreed to end this one without a ninth inning of play.

There was a reason why the first game took so long. BC simply could not stop the UNC lineup.

At first it appeared that Dan Metzdorf would have an advantage against the left-handed heavy Tar Heels. But that wasn’t the case whatsoever. UNC tormented Metzdorf early and often, scoring five runs in the first four innings.

On the other hand, Tar Heels freshman Luca Dalatri was burning the Eagles. Literally. Rather than toying with breaking balls, Dalatri stuck to his fastball, and it payed off. He struck out five batters and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth and a run until the sixth.

UNC really broke loose offensively in the fourth inning. Warmoth laid down the perfect bunt right along the third-base line, which came to screeching halt as soon as it reached the end of the grass. With one man on, McGee rocketed a shot toward second. Jake Palomaki tried to backhand it, but the ball got by him. Datres brought them all home with a three-run shot to left field.

And the Tar Heels weren’t done.

Zack Gahagan and Riley reached base, singling to shortstop and drawing a walk, respectively. Once again, Roberts came through: the first baseman singled through the left side, scoring Gahagan. Adam Pate would walk, loading the bases. And even though Brandon Martorano grounded into a double-play, Riley still scored on the play.

UNC picked up another run—its 11th—before BC scored its first.  

In the sixth, Aaron Soucy doubled to left, notching the first hit of his collegiate career. Dempsey then grounded out to first, advancing Soucy to third. Yish, another freshman, singled through the right side, scoring his fellow classmate. One inning later, Yish tallied another RBI, scoring Alu with a sacrifice fly.

Still down 11-2, BC’s bullpen wasn’t doing itself any favors. After two relatively flawless innings, Jack Cunningham gave up three runs in the eighth, virtually erasing everything the Eagles accomplished in the previous two innings.

BC got two more back in the bottom half of the inning, but it didn’t matter—partially because of the deficit at hand, and also due to the fact that UNC would go to score two of its own in the ninth, rounding out its total at 16 on the day.

The 16-4 loss foreshadowed what was to come for the Eagles. And it probably could have been foreseen, as BC gave up a season-high 17 runs to the Tar Heels on Saturday. Before this weekend, the Eagles hadn’t given up more than 13 runs all season. But against UNC, the they conceded at least 15 in each game of the series.

When the team is down as much as it was against UNC, there’s only one thing it can do.

“[Keep your] head down, play the game, not the scoreboard,” Gambino said. “And if you do that, assuming you get some good at bats, then all of sudden you can kind of keep doing that, and then you can get back in the ball game.”

Only, the Eagles could not get back in the ball game. Every time they got some sort of offensive spark, it was quickly quelled by a Tar Heel outburst—extinguishing any chance BC had to grab a game this weekend.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff

April 10, 2017