With two runners on base and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Sal Frelick stepped up to bat. As if on cue, Rhode Island head coach Raphael Cerrato left the dugout to talk to pitcher Addison Kopack.
A matchup between a right-handed pitcher and a left-handed batter is risky for the defensive team, especially considering Frelick’s tendency to make things interesting at the end of the game. Case in point: during Boston College baseball’s extra innings—comeback win against Auburn on March 7, Frelick hit a three-run homerun to tie the game at nine.
This Wednesday, however, was different. Frelick sent a ball into left center. It was only a single, but it was enough to advance teammates Daniel Baruch and Dante Baldelli to second and third, loading the bases. That was where the excitement ended. A successive strikeout and lineout destroyed any hopes of a comeback for BC (15-19), as Rhode Island (14-15-1) left the field with a 6-4 win.
Despite winning its most recent game against Florida State on Sunday, the Eagles are 2-8 in their last 10 contests. BC squared off against Rhode Island in desperate need of a win, but between outstanding pitching from the Rams and intermittent rain delays, the Eagles could not get their offense going.
Mason Pelio, BC’s usual primetime starter, opened the game up for the Eagles on Wednesday. BC got off to a tough start, as Rhode Island’s first three batters all punched Pelio’s pitches into the outfield, earning the Rams an early 2-0 lead.
“We gave him a little bit of a tune up today,” BC head coach Mike Gambino said of Pelio in his postgame press conference.
Pelio has been out of commission recently after being quarantined due to contact tracing, according to Gambino.
The Eagles responded in the bottom of the first, as Jack Cunningham noticed Rhode Island’s shift and sent a ground ball into the outfield. Cunningham’s hit was enough to send Brian Dempsey from second to home plate, bringing the score within one.
Right-handed pitcher Joe Mancini replaced Pelio in the top of the second, putting three quick outs on the board. Mancini pitched three solid innings, working his way out of a fourth-inning jam and striking out Rhode Island’s leadoff batter. He found strikes in both his curveballs and fastballs and pounded the strike zone for weak contact.
“[In the fourth] there was that one little kind of glitch where he just kind of lost concentration and went two quick outs, four-pitch walk,” Gabmino said of Mancini. “Then he settled right back in and he threw the ball great. Really good command, and [he] got his pitches going, and his stuff was really, really good. It was a really good outing.”
Dempsey answered again in the bottom of the second, crushing a fastball into left field as the Eagles erupted in cheers. He sent teammate Parker Landwehr to home plate, where he beat the throw and tied the game at two apiece.
The Eagles took their first and only lead of the game in the third inning with a groundout from Ramon Jimenez which scored Cunningham for a 3-2 advantage.
But, things took a turn for the worse when the Eagles entered the sixth inning. As freshman Joe Vetrano took the mound, Rhode Island’s Mark Coley stepped up to bat. Coley ripped a fastball into center field, sending Frelick diving to just miss the catch. Coley made it to third by the time the ball was back in Vetrano’s hands, with Rhode Island’s Xavier Vargas finding home and tying the game back up.
The scoring didn’t stop there, as the Rams continued to find contact with Vetrano’s pitches, bringing the score to 5-3 in their favor. Charlie Coon replaced Vetrano with two outs and runners on first and third and forced an out to end an inning that felt longer than all the previous innings combined.
Following a brief rain delay, Joey Ryan took the mound for the Eagles and dug a hole for himself, loading the bases with just one out. He managed to stop the bleeding, however, by striking out back-to-back batters.
Despite a strong start, the Eagles struggled greatly in the middle of the game. From the fourth to the eighth inning, they only recorded three hits and didn’t find home once.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Senior Staff