Baseball, Spring, Sports

Irish Score in First Seven Innings, Sink Eagles in Regular Season Finale

The last five times Notre Dame has faced Boston College baseball on its home turf, it has gone poorly. There was the 2017 series, where the Eagles took all three games, with the last two narrow one-run victories. Then, there were the two prior meetings this weekend, a 10-1 drubbing on Thursday night followed by a 9-8 win for BC, despite the Irish taking the lead multiple times.

On Saturday afternoon, though, Notre Dame made sure to leave no doubt that it was going to send off the Eagles’ seniors with a defeat. The Irish scored in each of the first seven innings, pushing at least one run across the plate against all five of BC’s pitchers and cruising to an 11-5 victory in the teams’ regular season finale.

Notre Dame (24-28, 13-17 Atlantic Coast) piled up 15 hits, one shy of its season high, and saw each of the first five hitters in its lineup record multi-hit days. Daniel Jung went 3-for-6 out of the cleanup spot with two doubles, a home run, and four RBIs while teammate Niko Kavadas chipped in with a home run and three RBIs.

It was more than enough run support for Irish starter Cameron Brown, who allowed five runs—three earned—over six innings of work. Brown struggled at times against the BC (29-26, 12-18) lineup, but still struck out seven and spun his fourth quality start in his last five outings. His final inning of work was his shakiest, as he gave up four runs on three hits and an error.

The Eagles found themselves in a 5-0 hole before they could push across their first run in the third inning. Starter Joe Mancini walked Spencer Myers to open the game, then surrendered a two-run blast to right field from Kavadas. He gave up another run in the second, putting two runners on via walks before a groundout from Myers pushed across the third run of the game.

Mancini needed 44 pitches to get through two innings, and nearly half of them were balls. He gave way to Matt Gill, who has largely served as the Eagles’ closer since his move from the weekend rotation. His switch on Saturday backfired. Gill gave up an RBI double to the second batter he faced in Jung, and the Irish first baseman eventually scored on a single from Erich Gilgenbach.

Trailing by five, BC got a run back in the home half of the third—Cody Morissette doubled in Jake Alu—but Notre Dame was far from done. Myers singled with one out, stole second, and scored the first run of the fourth on a single up the middle from Kavadas. Gill got a crucial strikeout for the inning’s second out, but then allowed a two-run home run to right field from Jung that stretched the lead back to seven.

BC head coach Mike Gambino turned to Travis Lane in the fifth, hopeful to stop the bleeding, but he also ran into control issues. Lane walked the first two batters he faced, but it seemed as if he was nearly out of trouble by inducing a double play. That hope was squandered a moment later on an RBI double from Myers, who finished the day 3-for-5 with a trio of stolen bases. Lane exited after walking the next two batters he faced, and Zach Stromberg escaped the bases-loaded jam with a full count strikeout—stranding three of the 12 runners that the Irish left throughout the day.

Stromberg’s strong start wasn’t replicated the following inning, however, as a single and a hit batsmen put a runner in scoring position for Ryan Cole—who entered hitting a team-worst .167 in 66 at bats. Despite his numbers, Cole came up with a crucial RBI, his third of the season, lacing a single to left field.

The Eagles finally had an answer in the bottom of the frame against Brown, narrowing a nine-run deficit to to five. Morissette doubled in Alu for the second time of the game, Joe Suozzi had an infield single with the bases loaded, and Chris Galland reached on an error by Irish shortstop Jared Miller to bring in two more. Still, Notre Dame got one more back against reliever Emmet Sheehan in the seventh—Jung came through with an RBI double—and the Eagles would fail to score the rest of the way against the Irish bullpen combination of Evan Tenuta and Zack Martin.

It was a disappointing way to send out the BC seniors, who hadn’t lost to their conference rivals at home. Alu, Brian Dempsey, and Gian Martellini all scored runs, but the Eagles’ four-run sixth wasn’t nearly enough with the hole they’d already dug.

Yet, unlike last year when BC lost its last two games of the year against Miami—and had the regular season finale rained out—the team still has something to play for. That’s the ACC Tournament, which begins on Tuesday, May 21. BC is the last seed in the field, and will compete in pool play against No. 9 Louisville and a team to be determined.

Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff

May 18, 2019