Rapp Tosses Shutout to Complete Sweep of NC State

Boston College baseball won a pitcher’s duel led by a complete-game shutout from Brian Rapp in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader against North Carolina State. The Eagles (15-22, 6-15 Atlantic Coast) finished off the sweep of the Wolfpack (20-20, 8-13) with a 1-0 victory, for their second ACC series win and their first sweep of the season.

Rapp pitched lights out, allowing only three hits, two singles from NC State’s Stephen Pitarra in the first and sixth innings, and another single from Josh McLain in the ninth. Rapp was on fire, and head coach Mike Gambino trusted him enough to allow Rapp to pitch the full nine innings. Rapp finished with six strikeouts and earned his first win of the season on a complete game shutout.

Birdball struck quickly, and in the first inning Jake Palomaki hit a one out double to jump on starter Michael Bienlien early. Palomaki then advanced to third base on Michael Strem’s groundout to shortstop, and Gian Martellini followed up with a walk to place runners on the corners. Bigras flied out to centerfield for the third out, and the Eagles left two runners on base to start what looked to be a potential offensive matchup.

After letting up a single in the first, Rapp started mowing down batters, only allowing one baserunner in the next four innings on a walk. BC’s offense had a difficult time stringing together any offense, until Johnny Adams bunted himself safe with two outs in the fifth inning. Brian Dempsey then hit a chopper to the Wolfpack shortstop, whose throw pulled the first baseman off the bag, and allowed Adams to advance to second and left Dempsey safe at first. Donovan Casey hit a shot to centerfield, which seemed like it was going to drop and allow runners to score, until the centerfielder McLain made a fantastic catch on the run to end the inning.

Birdball’s offense came back to life again in the sixth inning as Martellini hit a double with two outs, followed by a Mitch Bigras walk. Jake Alu was up next, and pounded a single into center, where McLain fielded the ball. Martellini rounded third and headed for home as McLain gunned the ball in from center. Catcher Brad Debo caught the throw and made a great play to tag Martellini at home and end the inning without a BC run.

Rapp made quick work of the first three batters he saw in the seventh inning and the Eagles were back up again. Jacob Yish was scraped by a ball that was thrown a little too far inside by Bienlien, and Bienlien was pulled from the game after pitching six scoreless innings. Pitcher Dalton Feeney relieved Bienlien, and Dominic Hardaway was sent in to pinch run for Yish. Hardaway took off for second base, and was called safe as Adams laid down a sacrifice bunt. Brian Dempsey grounded out back to Feeney, who took it to first himself, and Hardaway advanced to third base with two outs and nobody else on. Feeney let loose a wild pitch in the dirt while pitching to Casey, and Hardaway strolled to home on what would be the only run scored of the game. Casey grounded out to the third baseman, and the Eagles scored what would be the winning run on zero hits in the seventh.

Rapp came back out for the eighth inning, and retired the first two batters who both flied out to Strem. After a questionable ball-four call, Rapp got the next batter to groundout to second, which ended the inning. Rapp returned yet again in the ninth and faced Pitarra, who had the only two hits for the Wolfpack at the time. Pitarra hit a heater on the ground past second base, but Palomaki made an excellent diving stop to rob Pitarra of his third hit of the day. Rapp struck out the next man, but allowed a two-out single to McLain. This proved to be no problem, as the cleanup hitter grounded out to Adams at shortstop and the Eagles held on to win the game and complete the sweep of NC State.

 Birdball won with a small ball philosophy that was only made possible by Rapp. With Rapp’s dominant performance, the Eagles did not need to score any more than one run, and they are able to ride a three-game win streak into their matchup with UMass Lowell this Tuesday. This was an important win for BC, and the players showed no complacency after wins earlier in the morning and the day before at Fenway Park. It is getting close to crunch time as there is less than a month remaining in the regular season, and the Eagles will need to remain hot as a critical series against Miami looms over next weekend.

Featured Image by Josh Mentzer / Heights Staff

April 24, 2017