Even mediocre pitching can win games if your hitting is strong enough. That balance has been the story of the season so far for Boston College baseball this year. While the Eagles’ team ERA sat at 5.01 coming into Saturday afternoon’s game against Louisville, a mark that ranked No. 12 in the ACC, BC’s offense had racked up an average of over eight runs per game.
The numbers stop adding up when those hot bats go quiet, which is just what happened in BC’s Saturday afternoon clash against Louisville. The No. 13/17 Eagles managed just two hits and six total baserunners in their 5-0 loss to the No. 15/10 Cardinals.
BC has now lost the first two games of the series to Louisville, as the Cardinals won 7-3 on Friday night.
Overall, BC starter Emmet Sheehan pitched well, but his command slipped twice during his six innings on the mound, and the Cardinals capitalized. Sheehan walked the first batter of the game, Louisville second baseman Cooper Bowman, and then, after striking out Levi Usher, walked Henry Davis. Bowman and Davis executed a double steal to get to second and third, but it didn’t end up mattering as clean-up hitter Alex Binelas smacked a three-run home run.
In the fourth, Christian Knapczyk singled through the right side, and Bowman brought him home with a two-run shot to left.
The two home runs aside, Sheehan was strong for the Eagles and tallied seven strikeouts.
In a postgame audio message to The Heights, Eagles manager Mike Gambino described Sheehan’s performance postgame as “overall encouraging, even though it was shaky to start, but to have him right the ship like he did was awesome.”
A number of strong plays from BC in the field also aided his performance. With one man out in the third, BC second baseman Vance Cimini made a great diving catch to rob Binelas of a hit up the middle. Later on, right fielder Dante Baldelli closed out the fifth inning with a sliding grab as he crossed into foul territory.
Sal Frelick was also up to his usual spectaculars in center field. With reliever Charlie Coon in for Sheehan in the seventh, Bowman roped a gapper into left-center and Frelick made an incredible diving catch to prevent extra bases.
Starting pitcher Glenn Albanese was masterful on the mound for the Cardinals, tossing 4.1 innings of one-hit ball and notching five strikeouts. Two of the strikeouts were looking as Albanese’s off-speed pitches confounded BC’s batters. The strong outing continues what has been an impressive season for Albanese, as the hurler threw five innings and gave up just one run in his first start of the year last month against Bellarmine.
Offense was destined to be a struggle for the Eagles from the start, as both Cody Morissette and Jack Cunningham were left out of the Eagles’ lineup. Both players have been mainstays in the middle of BC’s order, with a combined 15 RBIs between the two, and each holding an OBP over .400. Luke Gold slid up into Morissette’s normal spot in the three hole, and Ramon Jimenez took over the clean-up duties and Cunningham’s spot at first base.
“You take one of the best first basemen in the ACC and the best second basemen in the ACC-Cody is arguably the best pure hitter in the country-you take those guys out of your lineup, there’s gonna be a dropoff,” Gambino said.
The Eagles’ first major opportunity to get on the board came in the fifth inning. After Albanese struck out Cimini to open the inning, Louisville skipper Dan McDonnell opted to turn the pitching duties over to lefty Tate Kuehner.
Kuehner was wild from the get-go, nearly hitting designated hitter Joe Vetrano with his first three pitches before walking him, and then walking catcher Peter Burns on four straight pitches. Evan Webster came in for Kuehner and got Baldelli to ground into a double play to end the threat.
While Baldelli ended BC’s hopes of getting anything going in the fifth, he gave the Eagles their only other good opportunity to score, knocking a double to left-center in the eighth. The opportunity was short lived as Brian Dempsey hit a lazy fly ball to right field on the first pitch of his at-bat.
The Eagles had Frelick, Gold, and Jimenez up in the ninth against Louisville reliever Kaleb Corbett but went down quietly. Frelick and Gold both popped out, and, after Jimenez reached on a fielding error from Knapczyk, Cameron Leary came up empty on a huge swing to end the game.
Featured Image Courtesy of Louisville Athletics