Spring, Baseball

Five-Run Seventh Paces Eagles to Third Win in a Row

In the early going of Wednesday’s game, Boston College baseball head coach Mike Gambino watched his team fall behind to visiting Quinnipiac early and didn’t have a great feeling about the mood of his dugout. Sensing a particular flatness, Gambino—already with a warning under his belt from earlier—proceeded to charge out in the sixth inning after a questionable call on a foul tip, forcing home plate umpire Joseph Caraco to eject the eighth-year coach.

Two innings later, the Eagles erased a 4-2 deficit on the strength of a five-run seventh inning, riding the momentum of Gambino’s tossing to their third-straight win, 9-5.

For Gambino? Mission accomplished.

“It’s a little bit of a gamble, but I just felt like the boys needed a bit of a spark,” he said after spending the game’s final three-and-a-half innings watching from his car beyond the left field fence. “I went out there and just decided I would go. The boys responded well.”

“It kind of opened our eyes a little bit,” said BC (12-19, 5-10 Atlantic Coast) catcher Gian Martellini, who went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. “Once he got dumped, it was like, alright, we have to start rolling a little bit.”

Eagles outfielders Chris Galland and Dante Baldelli combined for five stolen bases and four runs, Jake Alu drove in two RBIs, and relievers Joey Walsh and Thomas Lane didn’t allow an earned run over the final four innings to secure the win.

The visiting Wildcats (14-17, 6-0 Metro Athletic) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against BC starter Matt Gill, who had an up-and-down start, struggling to get out of jams. After the first two batters reached via a walk and a single, Gill got two quick outs, but then coughed up a two-run double to Kyle Horton that Galland couldn’t come up with in deep left field.

Martellini sparked an answer for BC, as an inning later, he led off with a triple to right-center. Scott Braren brought him in with a groundout to the first baseman. That was all the Eagles would get against Quinnipiac starter Chris Enns in the early going, though, as he retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced.

Baldelli cracked him in the fourth, roping a single to right before swiping second. Martellini brought him in with a single through the right side, evening the game up. It was impressive contact throughout for the catcher, who’s heated up as of late: he finished off his third multi-hit game in his last four appearances.

“If anybody is paying attention to what Gian’s doing the past three or four games, he’s starting to look like Gian,” Gambino said afterward. “He can carry a team and he’s starting to do it—it’s going to be a fun ride in the second half of the year watching him play.”

The Wildcats had an immediate answer, as Gill—who stranded runners in all three of the previous innings—would run into two-out trouble, again. After two quick flyouts, Evan Vulgamore hit a single, stole second, and came home on Horton’s second double. Horton would then cross the plate on Ben Gibson’s single, doubling up BC.

An inning later, with Ian Ostberg at the plate, Gambino saw his chance to get his team a bit of a “spark” when a potential strikeout on a foul tip was nullified. After he left, Gill worked a quick 1-2-3 inning and Jake Palomaki started things up in the home half. He singled, stole second, moved to third on an error, and scored on Jack Cunningham’s sacrifice fly. Quinnipiac would answer against Walsh after a strange sequence: a hit batsmen, a hit-and-run groundout, a dropped third strike, and a passed ball would score a run.

The two-run lead quickly disappeared. The Eagles sent nine batters to the plate in the ensuing seventh inning, chasing reliever Joe Preciado after piling up five singles and a walk in the frame alone. BC found every gap in the Wildcats infield, lacing hits that would frustrate Preciado and reverse the course of the game. Alu and Palomaki both singled in runs, Baldelli had a two-run single, and Martellini capped the five-run frame with a sacrifice fly.

Alu would bring in another run an inning later with a fielder’s choice, but it was insurance the Eagles wouldn’t need. Walsh allowed a lone hit over his two and two-thirds innings of work, and Lane recorded his third save, polishing off the win with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

It was a prompt reversal for the BC lineup—but a much needed one. Entering an important conference weekend series against Wake Forest, the Eagles are looking to make up ground in the ACC standings. Winning three straight certainly helps, but carrying it over to the games that matter most is the next step.

For Martellini, it hasn’t been a matter of the team struggling a lot—it’s more of just sticking with it because the roster BC has is fully capable of making a run.

“Honestly, we’ve felt good all year, we just haven’t had many games go in our favor which is just how baseball is,” he said.

“We just have to play good, hard, clean baseball and keep going and having fun with it.”

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor

April 11, 2018

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