At this point, Boston College baseball fans should feel pretty confident when 6-foot-4 freshman Mason Pelio takes the mound.
On Saturday afternoon, No. 3 North Carolina State, fresh off back-to-back wins to open the weekend series, was just the latest entry in Pelio’s log of impressive starts. Behind yet another quality start from the San Diego, Calif., native, the Eagles pulled off a huge upset of the Wolfpack, winning, 3-1, and snapping a four-game skid in the process.
The story of the game was Pelio’s continued dominance against top competition. Pelio locked down the Wolfpack (29-4, 4-3 Atlantic Coast) hitters, posting a final line of 7 2/3 innings, two hits, one earned run, two walks, and seven strikeouts. He has certainly ascended to the top of the BC (15-17, 6-9) pitching staff, posting a 1.64 ERA—good for 15th in the ACC—while holding opponents to a .172 batting average in seven starts.
The gem by Pelio marks his fourth quality start against a ranked opponent—the previous three opponents were No. 8 Louisville, No. 20 Clemson, and No. 19 Florida State.
“He’s a special one,” head coach Mike Gambino remarked, praising Pelio’s composure and attack mentality. “He doesn’t look like a freshman out there. He loves the chance to pitch against the No. 1 team in the country, he loves the chance to pitch in a big spotlight.”
In what seemed like a prime scoring opportunity in the bottom of the first, the BC lineup came away with just one run. Wolfpack starter Andrew Blake had thrown just 15 2/3 innings coming into this matchup. His lack of experience was apparent, as he was pulled after two walks and a hit batsman. Jack Cunningham was able to deliver the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly to the left field corner that scored Chris Galland. The Eagles loaded the bases again after Cody Morissette was hit, but BC ended the frame stranding three runners.
N.C. State’s Canaan Silver was able to silence the BC offense in relief of Blake. Silver went six innings, limiting the Eagles to two hits and no runs while striking out three.
Pelio surrendered his first run in the fourth inning on a home run by Patrick Bailey. The sophomore’s laser shot to right center evened the score at 1-1 while also snapping Pelio’s streak of 15 straight scoreless innings. The freshman righthander has given up an earned run in just three of his last 38 innings pitched.
The Eagles pulled ahead in the bottom of the eighth, thanks to some clutch hitting. On a 2-2 pitch, Jake Alu pulled through with a single up the middle to score Galland from second. Alu was then able to advance from first to third on a base hit up the middle by Cunningham. Sal Frelick, who has been sidelined with a leg injury, came in to pinch hit. He contributed a sacrifice fly to score Alu, putting BC up, 3-1. Situational hitting has been key for this team all season, and its ability to execute on Sunday helped decide the outcome.
“Sal’s sac-fly … that happens with Jake Alu going first to third in a big spot,” Gambino said, explaining that situational hitting and baserunning are a major part of the BC offense. “We did pretty well today and won the game.”
Thomas Lane came up big in relief of Pelio today—he entered in the eighth and picked up the victory. The Wolfpack threatened with runners on second and third with one out, but Lane got out of the jam to record the four-out save.
Quality pitching and good situational hitting allowed BC to close out the weekend on a high note yet again. Pelio is more than pulling his weight in his first year on campus, as he’s helped bookend multiple weekend series this season. While that success has often dissipated in the midweek non-conference games, the victory still proved that, with Mason Pelio on the hill, the Eagles can beat anybody.
Featured Image by Kayla Brandt / For The Heights