Spring, Baseball

Conference Woes Continue for BC in Weekend Series With Rival Notre Dame

Simply put, weekend series have not been kind to Boston College baseball this season. Entering Friday, the Eagles were a woeful 7-17 in three-game sets and had dropped their previous six such contests, getting swept by both Florida State and Wake Forest. Things were better this weekend, although not much, as the Eagles managed to win just one of three when they traveled to South Bend to take on Holy War rival Notre Dame.

This series was of the utmost importance for both sides, who have each struggled mightily this season. BC (15-28, 6-18 Atlantic Coast) is stuck in the conference cellar, while Notre Dame (20-24, 10-14) holds the spot above them, an almost equally bad 12th overall. Both teams are still mathematically in contention to make the conference tournament, but each identified this series as pivotal to have a chance.

Then, with a chance to take the series, the Eagles suffered another disappointing loss in the rubber match on Sunday. Despite leading for most of the game, a disastrous eighth inning and 12 men left on base cost BC in the 5-4 defeat.

Notre Dame got on the board in the first inning, when junior Nick Podkul’s double into the gap scored Jake Johnson. It was a welcome sight for Irish freshman pitcher Tommy Vail, who was making his first start of the season. He looked to be dealing early, striking out four of the first six batters he faced, but struggled from then on.

BC got to Vail in the third inning, using a string of hits from the top of its batting order to take a 3-1 lead. An RBI single and stolen base by Chris Galland and another run-scoring single from Jack Cunningham gave the Eagles the lead, and Cunningham would eventually score on a bases-loaded walk of Brian Dempsey. The stolen base by Galland—only a freshman—was his 28th this season, setting a new program record for the Eagles. Despite chasing Vail after just three innings, BC couldn’t further its lead, leaving the bases loaded.

Notre Dame equalized in the fourth, tying the game on a Eric Gilgenbach two-run home run. Gilgenbach went deep on the first pitch of the at-bat from BC starter Brian Rapp, who quickly settled down and worked a three a masterful additional innings.

BC’s offense, however, could only muster another run to aid him when Jake Alu hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth. The Eagles would lead the game all the way until the bottom of the eighth inning, when everything quickly unravelled. BC would use three relievers in the inning and watched the lead, and potential series win, dissipate.

Zach Stromberg and Thomas Lane allowed the bases to fill up with one out, prompting Eagles coach Mike Gambino to opt for Joey Walsh out of the pen. He was greeted rudely, as Niko Kavadas tied the game with a single to left field. Gilgenbach followed and reached base on a fielder’s choice, which brought in Vierling after an error by Dempsey—and proved to be the decisive run.

The Saturday game was a bounceback victory for the Eagles, aided by a fantastic performance from junior pitcher Dan Metzdorf in a 6-0 win. Metzdorf earned his first win of the season, going eight innings—tying a career-high—without giving up a run. While he tallied just two strikeouts, the junior only gave up two hits and two walks.

BC’s offense was also firing on all cylinders in the Saturday game. Galland paced the lineup with a multi-hit effort, also driving in a run. Designated hitter Anthony Maselli led all players with three runs—scoring on a sacrifice fly, a wild pitch, and an error in an unconventional manner. Overall, it was a dominant performance from BC, who was desperately seeking to get a weekend win under its belt.

The Friday game was a heartbreaking loss for the Eagles, as they were vanquished on a walkoff hit from Notre Dame’s Kavadas in the 10th inning to give the Irish the victory, 5-4.

After going down 3-0 in the third inning, the Eagles looked to have been done and dusted. They came roaring back, however, in a crazy seventh inning that was capped by a grand slam from junior Gian Martellini to give BC a 4-3 lead.

It didn’t last long, however. In the bottom half of the seventh, the Irish managed to pull one back on a wild pitch that allowed Daniel Jung to score from third. The mistake was costly, as it kept the game going into extras, and eventually, the Kavdas liner into right field off of a 2-2 pitch from Lane ended the game.

Dropping another weekend series is a bad sign for BC, especially in terms of general frustration—the Eagles were a bullpen breakdown away from winning their first since March. Last season, the Notre Dame series was a huge win for BC, earning them a place in the postseason conference tournament. This season, it’s left them with more questions than answers, as they stare down two more weekend conference series with the chance of missing out on postseason play.

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor

April 29, 2018