Following an exhilarating two-out, eight-run, ninth-inning comeback in the final game of its series at Auburn last week, No. 17/13 Boston College baseball could not provide the same intensity at No. 10/15 Louisville, getting swept for the first time this season. BC’s series concluded with an 8-6 loss to the Cardinals, a disappointing end to what looked like a promising game.
BC (9-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast), however, showed signs of life in the series, jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the closer, but the Eagles couldn’t finish the job, and BC’s pitchers couldn’t handle the hot bats of the Cardinals (11-4, 4-2).
After the Eagles jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the second inning, the Cardinals rallied back to tie it at four a piece, scoring one run in the third and three in the fifth. BC quickly responded with two runs in the top of the seventh to take a 6-4 lead, but costly BC errors and timely hitting gave way to four Louisville runs in the bottom of the eighth for an advantage that held for the remainder of the game.
“I told the guys, ‘Hey, it’s a long season, there’s still a long way to go, just keep doing what we’re doing,’” BC head coach Mike Gambino said after the game. “And honestly after this weekend I still told them, ‘there’s still a lot of season left, it’s a long season, keep doing what we’re doing.’”
Birdball struggled to finish out innings on a high note and take advantage of runners on base. BC bats went a measly 0-for-10 on two-out hitting compared to Louisville’s 8-for-15. The Eagles also left 11 runners on base and squeaked out only one extra-base hit, while the Cardinals posted six.
BC bats came out ready to put the ball in play, notching three singles in just the first inning alone. With two on, Luke Gold brought Brian Dempsey home with a sacrifice fly to center field to put the Eagles on the scoreboard first, and Jack Cunningham then ripped an RBI single to right field that brought Sal Frelick home. Cunningham went 3-for-4 on the day.
“Jack [Cunningham] gives you good at-bats, he gives you good situational hitting, and there’s thump there, so it was really good having him back in the lineup,” Gambino said.
Down 2-0 entering the top of the second, Louisville’s Christian Knapczyk made a crucial throwing error on a ground ball by Frelick, allowing BC to add two more runs to its lead.
BC right-hander Alex Stiegler came in to relieve lefty Joe Vetrano in the third, and he gave up two hits but no walks and no runs over his two innings.
After reaching on a fielder’s choice, BC catcher Peter Burns caught Luke Brown stealing. In the same at-bat, Louisville’s Henry Davis homered to left field, cutting the gap to 4-1. Davis went 4-for-5 with two runs and a double.
Stiegler seemed to be finding his groove after going three-up, three-down on 10 pitches in the fourth.
The fifth inning, however, told a different story. He earned the first two outs of the inning, but Cooper Bowman sparked a two-out rally for the Cardinals with a double down the left-field line. Bowman’s was the first of four hits in a row for Louisville, which concluded with a two-RBI double by Alex Binelas, bringing home Brown and Davis to tie the game up at four.
Left-hander Garrett Schmeltz entered the game in the fourth to relieve Luke Smith and gave up four runs—two of them earned—on seven hits in three innings.
BC left two runners on base in the top of the sixth after Dante Baldelli bunted and Dempsey singled to center. Jack Perkins came in to relieve Schmeltz and posted three strikeouts, two hits, and a walk while leaving the Eagles scoreless over 2.2 innings.
On the other side of the ball, right-hander Max Gieg entered the game in the bottom of the sixth to relieve Stiegler following his three-run fifth inning. Stiegler struck out two but gave up four runs on six hits over his three innings.
BC escaped the stalemate in the seventh after Cunningham led off with a single and Ramon Jimenez drew a 3-2 walk in the next at-bat. Cameron Leary then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners. Vince Cimini ripped a two-RBI double down the right-field line on the very first pitch to give the Eagles a 6-4 lead. Gieg had another productive inning, this time only throwing nine pitches, and BC appeared to be headed toward victory.
But BC’s luck quickly changed. With two on base, Gieg made a wild throw to first base, allowing Cameron Masterman to score from second and Lucas Dunn to advance to third. The Eagles still held a 6-5 lead following the error but were cornered into a dangerous situation with runners in scoring position. Knapczyk then crushed a triple to the right-center gap to bring both runners home, giving the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 7-6.
Following the error, Gieg hit another batter on the first pitch, and Gambino pulled him for lefty Joey Walsh. Knapczyk then scored due to another throwing error. With two runners on, Walsh escaped the jam by getting Davis to ground out into a double play.
Kaleb Corbett earned the save for Louisville, only giving up one walk to BC in the ninth and punching out two of the other three batters.
Featured Image Courtesy of Louisville Athletics