Sports, Top Story, Spring, Baseball

After 11 Innings, Eagles Stopped Short of Beanpot Final

Thirty minutes before first pitch between Boston College baseball and Harvard, the game itself was in doubt. Heavy intermittent showers and winds sent both teams to their dugouts during warmups, and foreshadowed what was to be a long, cold day for the Eagles—they ultimately fell to Harvard, 7-4, in 11 innings in the Beanpot Semifinals.

Although BC (9-17, 4-8 Atlantic Coast) completed two successful comeback attempts over the course of the game, the Eagles faltered for the third time this season in extra innings. With one out in the top of the 11th, Patrick McColl was hit by a pitch, and Jake Suddleson walked to bring up cleanup hitter Patrick Robinson. Already 3-for-5 on the day, the left-hander crushed a ball to right field, silencing what was left of a dedicated BC fanbase, and electrifying the Harvard (9-13, 1-2 Ivy League) dugout.

The rain managed to die down significantly before the first pitch, but things didn’t get much better for BC starter Matt Gill from there. A first-pitch single straight up the middle for Ben Skinner set the tone for the Crimson, and after advancing to third, he crossed the plate on a Jake Goodreau passed ball—the sophomore was starting his first game at catcher, with Gian Martinelli getting the day off. A line-drive single by Jake Forte went over the head of Jake Alu for another run, followed by a Buddy Mrowka RBI single through the hole at second base. By the inning’s end, Harvard had tallied three runs on five hits.

While BC was unable to get anything going in the bottom half, Gill settled down the very next inning. He retired the side in the second frame with just 10 pitches, recording his first strikeout of the game. After Mrowka’s RBI single in the first, the 6-foot-5 lefty would go on to retire 11 of Harvard’s next 12 batters.

Jake Alu reached on a walk in the second, but was thrown out by a mile trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt to Goodreau. The next swing from the backup catcher sent a ball off the center field wall for a double, and surely would have scored BC’s first run, had Alu remained on the basepaths.

Kevin Stone relieved starter Hunter Bigge after four strong innings, and the Eagles still couldn’t get anything going after the change. Goodreau kept his solid day at the plate going with a walk, but without any hits in the inning he was stranded on base once again. The 255-pounder made his name known in the bottom of the inning as well, making up for his first-inning mistake with a tremendous diving catch off a weak foul ball from Forte.

In the bottom of the sixth, a hard fought 10-pitch at-bat for Dante Baldelli ended in a walk, and single-handedly jumpstarted the BC offense. A liner up the middle for Scott Braren, followed by an Alu base on balls, juiced the bases for Goodreau, who would log his first career RBI on a four-pitch walk.

Yet with pinch hitter Jacob Yish taking three-straight strikes and nine-hole hitter Mitch Bigras caught looking at a full-count fastball, the Eagles were unable to get more than the one run.

The next inning, BC cashed in on another scoring chance. With Chris Galland on first base, Brian Dempsey sent a shallow fly ball to left that would have dropped if not for an incredible diving stop by left fielder Tommy Seidl. Even then, Palomaki’s second walk of the day brought the clean up hitter Baldelli to the plate, who stood in for a successful double steal attempt and then reached on an error that scored Galland.

Next up was Braren, who hit a weak ground ball to short that was still enough to score Palomaki and tie the game.

It only took the top of the next inning for Harvard to retake the lead. A sacrifice bunt and a hit back to the mound that Stromberg couldn’t control brought up pinch hitter Matt Rothenberg. Joey Walsh was next to take the mound but immediately let up an RBI single into right field.

In the bottom of the ninth, the game nearly ended on one swing of the bat. With Dempsey on first, Palomaki crushed a ball to deep center that looked like it was gone only before Skinner settled underneath it at the warning track. Despite the out, the Eagles were able to send the game into extras.

The disastrous 11th inning for the Eagles, though, finally put things out of reach, as they couldn’t overcome a three-run deficit, falling to 0-3 on the year in extra innings and short of a chance to win an unprecedented fourth-straight Beanpot.

Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Editor

April 5, 2018