In the fourth inning of Saturday’s game, Boston College baseball was enjoying a 4-1 lead backed by a dominant showing from starter Emmet Sheehan. When Joey Walsh relieved him in the seventh inning with runners on the corners after allowing just one run, the flood gates opened, and the Wolfpack (13-11, 10-7) broke out for three more runs in the inning to secure a 5-4 lead that would hold for the rest of the game.
Allowing leads to slip away late in the game ishas not been entirely foreign to the Eagles (14-15, 4-13 Atlantic Coast), who gave up leads in two games at Virginia Tech last weekend to similarly suffer one-run defeats in each.
“We have to do a better job of cleaning up some of these small things to be able to flip these one-run decisions,” BC head coach Mike Gambino said in his postgame press conference. “It doesn’t always come down to one at-bat. There’s things throughout the game, and I need to make sure we’re doing a better job of all of that.”
After racking up a career-high 12 strikeouts last weekend, Sheehan pitched six or more innings for the fifth straight time. Sam Highfill got the call to start on the bump for NC State, and he was also durable, pitching seven innings. After giving up his fourth run in the fourth inning, the freshman pitcher found his composure and retired 10 straight batters.
As BC has done consistently this season, the lineup jabbed at the scoreboard in the first inning thanks to a walk and a pair of singles. Cody Morissette was thrown out at second attempting to stretch his hit into a double, but Luke Gold scored a previously walked Sal Frelick with his single to put the Eagles up 1-0.
NC State promptly responded with a run of its own in the third after Devonte Brown led off the inning by crushing a home run to left field early in the count.
The Eagles chipped away more at the score in their half of the third inning to regain the lead. A pair of singles to start the inning plus a double from Morissette scored two more runs, giving BC a 3-1 lead. Morissette struggled mightily to open the season, but the highly regarded prospect has been hitting much more consistently as of recently. He went 2-for-4 on the day with an RBI.
After the Eagles added one more run to their lead in the fourth, both starting pitchers cruised in the latter half of their starts, posting hitless fifth and sixth innings. Gambino pulled Sheehan after he opened the seventh with a walk and a pair of singles. Walsh entered for relief in a tough spot with runners on the corners and the go-ahead run at the plate. On Walsh’s very first pitch of the game, Tyler McDonough drove a double to left field to bring NC State’s deficit within one.
When asked about his decision to keep Sheehan in the game for the seventh, Gambino expressed faith in the young starter.
“He’s earned the right with the way that kid has pitched,” Gambino said. “He’s earned the right to try to get that one more inning and get himself out of a little bit of jam.”
Through 6.1 innings, Sheehan gave up four runs and five hits while striking out six batters and walking four.
Luca Tresh grounded to third in the next at-bat, but a costly throwing error allowed him to reach second. The error also scored the runners from third and second base, giving the Wolfpack its first advantage of the game.
Gold hit a leadoff double in the ninth in hopes of sparking a comeback rally for the Eagles, but they could not muster the momentum to score the pinch-runner, Dante Baldelli, and dropped yet another heartbreaker.
Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics