Sports, Spring, Baseball

BC Notches First ACC Series Win, Downs No. 21 Florida State

On Friday night, it was the senior leadership of Gian Martellini and Dan Metzdorf that vaulted Boston College baseball to a series-opening win over No. 21 Florida State. Two days later, after the Eagles lost on a walk-off in the second game, it was a much more youthful crop that lifted BC to its first series win of the year—and first against the Seminoles since 2009.

Freshman Mason Pelio hurled seven shutout innings, classmate Sal Frelick hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the seventh, and the Eagles cruised to an 8-0 blowout of the ranked Seminoles. Pelio was practically unhittable, turning in his fourth quality start of the year, as he scattered two hits and a walk while striking out eight batters.

In his final inning of work, with BC (14-13, 5-7 Atlantic Coast) protecting a recently acquired 3-0 lead, Pelio hit an FSU (18-9, 6-6) batter with one out and then issued a walk. With the game-tying run at the plate, BC associate head coach Alex Trezza trotted out for a meeting with his young ace. The break settled down Pelio, as he struck out Cooper Swanson on three pitches—the last of which was a curveball that froze the Seminoles designated hitter.

The Eagles’ offense came alive behind him, although they were unable to do so until they got to the FSU bullpen. Seminoles starter Shane Drohan pitched into the sixth, allowing six hits but striking out eight and slipping out of jams. The same couldn’t be said about his replacements, as Conor Grady and Clayton Kwiatkowski—two of FSU’s most reliable arms—combined to allow seven runs.

BC found plenty of solid contact against Grady, with Chris Galland opening up the seventh with a double down the left field line. A batter later, Galland was trotting home with ease after Frelick deposited a 1-0 pitch beyond the right field fence for his fourth home run of the year. Frelick was fired up and greeted by a crowd of teammates at the dugout steps, and that energy quickly fed into an offensive outburst. Jake Alu followed with a double and scored when Martellini lined a base hit up the middle.

Grady gave way to Kwiatkowski in the eighth, but the results were similar. Galland singled, stole second, and scored on a Brian Dempsey single. Then, after an Alu single and a pinch-hit walk from Peter Burns, FSU dug itself into a deeper hole. Jack Cunningham grounded a ball to the third baseman Drew Mendoza, but Seminoles first baseman Carter Smith was unable to keep his foot on the bag on the ensuing throw. Dempsey and Alu alertly scored on the play to stretch the lead, and Cody Morissette followed with an RBI single. Dempsey capped the scoring in the ninth, adding an unnecessary insurance run with a sacrifice fly to score Galland.

It was a resilient performance from the Eagles, who lost a tough 4-3 decision the night prior. BC outhit its hosts, 11-4, and erased an early 3-0 deficit, but ultimately was handed defeat via a Mike Salvatore single in the bottom of the ninth.

Eagles’ starter Joe Mancini got off to a shaky start, quickly loading the bases with one out in the first after allowing a bunt single and issuing two walks. Robby Martin brought in one run with a groundout, then J.C. Flowers cleared the bases with a two-run single. That inning proved to largely be an outlier for the BC pitching staff, though, as Mancini followed with a pair of scoreless frames before handing the keys to the bullpen. Zach Stromberg, Sean Hughes, and Will Hesslink bridged the gap to the later innings, combining for three strikeouts in three innings of work.

Meanwhile, the Eagles’ lineup was struggling to find success against FSU starter C.J. Van Eyk, who worked around seven hits while striking out five in six innings. They were able to put the ball in play but struggled mightily with their chances, even leaving the bases loaded in the fifth. Eventually, BC broke through in an unexpected way. Van Eyk, who pounded the strike zone during the game and didn’t walk a batter, hurled a wild pitch with Dempsey standing on third base for the Eagles’ first run. Van Eyk was robbed of a deserved win after his quality start, though, as the Seminoles bullpen quickly ran into issues. Tasked with protecting a two-run lead, Jonah Scolaro immediately gave up the lead—a throwing error from Drew Mendoza brought in one, then Dempsey singled in another.

BC failed to capitalize on another bases-loaded situation in the top of the ninth, and reliever Joey Walsh—who came out in the bottom of the ninth for his third inning on the hill—quickly ran into trouble. He walked Tim Becker, who entered hitting just .182, then a sacrifice bunt pushed Becker into scoring position. Salvatore stepped up and evened the series with a game-winning single through the right side.

On Friday night, BC scored in each of the first four innings, building a healthy seven-run lead, but the bullpen made things interesting. After FSU clawed back within one after a four-run eighth inning, the Eagles tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the following frame and escaped Mike Martin Field with a 10-7 series-opening victory.

Metzdorf, save for three runs allowed in the fourth, worked six solid innings. The senior needed 109 pitches, but left having scattered six hits and three walks while matching his season-high in strikeouts with six. He was staked to an early lead—Martellini launched a three-run home run in the first inning—and immediately loaded the bases in the first, but escaped the jam.

BC’s lineup rewarded him, striking in a variety of ways the next three innings. Galland had a sacrifice fly in the second, and Frelick added an RBI single. Next, Dempsey got in on the action with a single that brought in a run, then Lucas Stalman grounded into a bases loaded double play but the run still scored.

Metzdorf’s hiccup came in the fourth inning, where he allowed a two-run double to Martin and an RBI single to Jonathan Foster. He followed with back-to-back scoreless innings, though, and Thomas Lane bridged the gap to the final two innings with a scoreless seventh. That’s when things got a little iffy for the Eagles, as Walsh started his weekend on the wrong foot. He allowed four runs, struggling with command as he loaded the bases with two walks and a wild pitch before Martin had a two-run single and Salvatore added a two-run double.

BC added two in the top of the ninth, however, and former starting pitcher Matt Gill—the team’s newly converted closer—shut the door. Gill allowed a pair of singles and the game-tying run was at the plate with just one out, but he got consecutive flyouts to seal the win.

It was a nearly perfect weekend for the Eagles, as taking two of three on the road from a top-25 team is no small feat. BC’s bullpen has been unable to turn in consistently good performances, but with Metzdorf and Pelio dealing and the lineup buzzing, the Eagles are in great shape. They’re just two games under .500 in conference play and have taken at least one game in each of their four ACC series thus far. Now, they’re rewarded with a 10-game homestand, which includes the Beanpot, three other non-conference games, and matchups with North Carolina State and Georgia Tech.

Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor

March 31, 2019

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