Don’t call it a comeback.
Or, on second thought, maybe do call it a comeback.
Down 9-1 heading into the top of the ninth inning, No. 18 Boston College baseball (8-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) had its back to the wall against No. 25/22 Auburn (7-4, 0-0 SEC). Even worse, Auburn quickly put up two outs, making the Eagles’ chances look even bleaker. But in the direst of circumstances, the Eagles rallied for eight runs to force extra innings, despite being down to their last strike four times in the ninth.
BC swung its momentum into the 10th, and BC relief pitcher Joey Walsh shut down the Tigers, handing BC the deciding rubber match victory 11-9.
The road to extra innings was paved with heroics, namely off the bat of center fielder Sal Frelick. On an 0-1 pitch, still down by three runs and with runners on second and third, BC’s Frelick lifted a belt-high fastball over the wall in right-center field to even the game at nine apiece. As soon as the ball reached exit velocity, he raised his bat in triumph and turned to his dugout as he began his trot, signaling to his team that the game was far from over.
After forcing extra innings, the momentum was all in the Eagles’ favor. Second baseman Luke Gold rocketed a changeup from Auburn pitcher Peyton Glavine over the high left-field fence for the go-ahead two-run homer. First baseman Jack Cunningham came in for the score, giving BC its first lead since the second inning.
Walsh, who came in as relief in the bottom of the ninth inning, struck out Auburn center fielder Kason Howell in the bottom of the 10th inning to finish off the game, stunning the Tigers at home. The win marked the first series win over an SEC opponent in program history.
The final score gives no indication of the truth of Sunday’s game. Prior to the last two frames, it was all Tigers, all the time. In the second inning, Auburn designated hitter Cam Hill stood at the plate, facing a 1-2 count with his teammate, right fielder Bryson Ware, standing on first base. BC freshman left-hander Joe Vetrano delivered a changeup but missed his spot low and inside, making it a pitch any lefty hitter would salivate at.
Hill made Vetrano pay, as he drove the ball deep to right field and over the fence for a two-run homer, giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the second inning. Auburn put up five more runs in the fourth inning to break the game open, but it proved not to be enough insurance against the red-hot Eagles.
Cameron Leary was responsible for the Eagles’ lone run prior to the ninth. In the second inning, he doubled into left-center field to score Cunningham from first.
Gold singled to right-center to bring in Frelick for BC’s second run of the ballgame, bringing the score to 9-2. The hits kept coming, as Leary singled in shortstop Brian Dempsey. Right fielder Dante Baldelli drew a walk with the bases loaded before center fielder Chris Galland doubled in two more runs for the Eagles, cutting the score to 9-6 and bringing Frelick to the plate for his heroic opportunity.
Vetrano started on the bump for the Eagles, lasting just 1.1 innings and surrendering two runs. He was relieved by Alex Stiegler, who was responsible for Auburn’s five-run rally in the fourth inning. Max Gieg got three innings of work, giving up two earned runs. Walsh and freshman Charlie Coon combined for three innings of vital shutdown relief to close out the ballgame.
Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics