Spring, Baseball

Eagles Hurl First Shutout of the Season Against UNC Asheville

It hasn’t exactly been the smoothest start for the Boston College baseball pitching staff. Over the course of its first nine games, it gave up 69 runs and lost four games by nine or more runs.

On Tuesday afternoon against UNC Asheville, though, the Eagles were practically unhittable. The trio of Matt Gill, Joey Walsh, and Sean Hughes combined to spin a five-hit shutout and the offense picked up the slack, coasting to an 8-0 win over the host Bulldogs.

BC (5-5) snapped a two-game losing streak with the win, its first shutout of the season. After losing to Army on Sunday, 11-1, the victory was a welcome sight for the Eagles. Granted, the win came against a spiraling UNC Asheville (2-9) team that has dropped seven straight, but it was an important momentum-building win entering a tough stretch.

Offensively, BC gradually built up a convincing lead. The Eagles led just 1-0 through four innings, but put together multi-run efforts in three of the final five frames to pull away for good. Backed by strong pitching, BC never really had a cause for concern.

After a rocky start to the season, Jacob Yish—making his first start on the season in right field to make room for the white-hot Chris Galland in left—erupted. The sophomore snapped an 0-for-6 skid over his last three games with a RBI double in the second inning, bringing in Jake Alu for the game’s first run. Yish would add another double in the sixth, finishing 2-for-3 with the lone RBI, his first multi-hit game of the season.

He wasn’t the only Eagles outfielder to break out, though. Dante Baldelli started the season with a pair of multi-hit games, including a four-hit day against Santa Clara, but had struggled in the games since. His average had dipped to .235 before he went 2-for-4 with a walk against the Bulldogs, driving in a pair of runs in the fifth inning to stretch the BC lead to 3-0.

Gian Martellini added an RBI single to bring Baldelli in, then two innings later, it was Galland’s turn. After a leadoff double from Scott Braren to open the seventh, Galland brought him in with a double of his own. The freshman, who enjoyed a 5-for-9 weekend at the U.S.A. Baseball Complex and has played his way into the starting lineup, then swiped a base and scored after an errant throw.

Galland tacked on another RBI double two innings later and eventually crossed the plate on a Jack Cunningham single to cap the scoring. From nearby Sudbury, Mass., Galland hasn’t shown signs of his youth in the early going. He’s driven in a pair of runs in three of his last five games and now is a perfect 5-for-5 on stolen base attempts.

Overall, it was an impressive eight-run output from the Eagles, who had every player in the starting lineup record a hit. Leadoff batter Jake Palomaki went 3-for-5 to lead the way, while Galland, Yish, Alu, Braren, and Brian Dempsey all had two hits apiece.

It was also more than enough for Gill and Co. Making his first start of the season, Gill threw 4 1/3 innings and worked around three hits, striking out three and walking three to earn the win. Walsh struck out five over 3 2/3 innings while pitching with a four-run lead, and Hughes locked it down in the ninth.

BC moved to 3-1 in true road games, and all things considered, holds an even record with conference play on the horizon. Yes, the last two weekends got away from them—the Eagles dropped two of three in both—but they have a chance to win back-to-back games entering their first ACC weekend series of the year, a three-game set against North Carolina State.

Featured Image by  Jake Catania / Heights Staff

March 6, 2018

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