Sports, Spring, Baseball

Eagles Kick off Season with Impressive Sweep of Jackson State

Last season, Boston College baseball didn’t record its third win until the sixth game of the season. This past weekend in Mississippi, though, the Eagles already reached that mark. They were nothing short of impressive, winning three straight games against Jackson State and even taking an early 6-0 lead in the series finale that was eventually ruled a no-contest due to rain. BC (3-0) registered its first series sweep since May 2017, dispatching the Tigers (0-3) with relative ease behind stellar freshman debuts from Sal Frelick and Cody Morissette in the lineup and impressive pitching performances from Dan Metzdorf and Matt Gill. It was a strong start to the year for the Eagles, as BC is a team that is looking to shake off a 2018 campaign that was defined by struggles and ended with just 17 wins.

The Eagles completed the series sweep on Saturday night, dispatching Jackson State, 9-5, in the second game of the doubleheader. It was another strong offensive showing for BC, as head coach Mike Gambino’s team scored seven runs in the first four frames before ultimately piling up 14 hits. The freshman duo of Morissette and Frelick led the charge, as Morissette went 3-for-4 out of the eight spot in the lineup, while Frelick went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs. Frelick’s day was highlighted by a two-run single in the fourth, giving the Eagles a 4-0 lead at the time. Jack Cunningham and Chris Galland both turned in multi-hit games, with the latter swiping two bases and scoring twice.

Pitching wise, it was a group effort for the Eagles, unlike the previous two games that featured lengthy starts. Starter Zach Stromberg went three and two-thirds innings, working around five walks and allowing two runs. Stromberg was relieved by Thomas Lane, who threw an inning-plus and got the win for the game. Sean Hughes ran into trouble, but the bullpen closed the game strong by shutting out Jackson State for the last three-plus innings of the game and spoiling any chance of a potential comeback.

The Eagles looked to build off their strong performance in the season opener versus Jackson State, and they did just that in the first game on Saturday: they followed their opening day win with a convincing 11-2 win. BC got off to a hot start early on offense and already boasted an 8-0 lead through five innings of play. The Eagles continued to keep the Jackson State bats at bay, as they only scratched across two runs. BC got a dominant pitching performance from righthander Matt Gill, as he tossed seven innings of one-run ball. The junior struck out three and allowed just two hits, both of which came after he lost a no-hit bid in the sixth.

The Eagles’ lineup, similar to Game One of the series, was able to provide a generous cushion for their pitchers. They broke the game open in the fourth when they scored six runs, an inning that was highlighted by Morissette doubling down the right-field line, driving in two—it was his first hit and RBI of his collegiate career. Another key offensive performer was Jake Alu, who went 3-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base, and an RBI. The Eagles were wreaking havoc on the basepaths as they stole eight bases in the game, including three from Frelick.

Ryan Smith looked shaky out of the Eagles’ bullpen in his debut, though, as he allowed Jackson State to score two runs, but the outcome was far from in doubt. Joe Mancini needed just 16 pitches to cruise through the ninth inning, however, striking out two of the three batters he faced in his first appearance.

The night prior, BC got the season started with a 7-3 Friday night win over Jackson State. The Eagles were holding onto a 2-1 lead until they exploded for a five-run eighth inning, quickly putting things out of question to avoid spoiling a strong pitching performance by southpaw Dan Metzdorf. The senior tossed seven innings of two-hit ball, allowing one run, which was unearned, and four strikeouts.

Offensively, the Eagles were able to back Metzdorf’s strong performance. Led by Frelick, who went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and two stolen bases in his first career collegiate game. This was likely expected by some, though, as Frelick had a successful season of summer ball playing for the North Shore Navigators of the Future Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL), where he was named the top pro prospect in the league. Galland looked to continue to build off his strong season last year, in which he was named to the All-ACC Third Team, and he got off on the right foot by going 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.

The game wasn’t without drama, however, as the Eagles faced some struggles in the bottom of the ninth. Reliever Will Hesslink faced four batters in the ninth but was unable to record a out, loading the bases before giving up a two-run single to Raul Hernandez. Gambino turned to the bullpen, and John Witkowski came in and shut the door, striking out the first batter he faced and getting the next batter to ground into a game-ending double play.

Story was updated on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 4:43 p.m. to correct a misspelling of Cody Morissette’s name. 

Featured Image by Boston College Athletics

February 18, 2019