Even when the team has struggled this season, strikeouts have been easy to come by for Boston College baseball starter Emmet Sheehan. The righty entered Thursday’s series opener against Virginia with the third-most strikeouts of any ACC pitcher this season and has turned in some staggering K totals on the mound over the year.
In his last start, despite giving up three runs, Sheehan struck out 15 Pitt batsmen, surpassing his previous season-high of 12 Ks that he had set in early April against Virginia Tech.
Making what is likely his last start of the season, Sheehan was unable to find his normal swing-and-miss pattern against the Cavaliers (26-21, 17-17 Atlantic Coast) and surrendered five runs and 14 baserunners in a 7-1 loss for the Eagles (20-27, 9-22).
His five innings of work marked the first time he had not closed out at least six innings since early March, and his relatively low strikeout total of four was particularly notable, as it leaves Sheehan just one strikeout short of tying the program season record of 107. With the Eagles left out of the upcoming ACC Tournament due to their poor conference record, Sheehan would need a surprising call up in the final two games of the year to have a shot at Chris Lambert’s 2004 record.
Virginia was ready for Sheehan from the jump, stringing together four hits and a walk in the first inning to put an early four spot on the board. After Sheehan struck out Zack Gelof to open the game and got Max Cotier to fly out, the three-four hitters singled and walked respectively to mount a two-out rally.
Kyle Teel singled to put the first run on the board, and the next batter knocked in another with a double before Chris Newell capped off the hot start with a two-run single to left.
Working out of a four-run hole before they even got their first licks at the plate, the Eagles’ batters faced a tall test against one of the other top pitchers in the ACC, and Andrew Abbott more than pitched up to his billing.
Abbott allowed just three hits and struck out 11 in 6.2 scoreless innings, adding to his conference-best strikeout total of 126 and lowering his season ERA to 2.87. He caught Luke Gold looking on a high fastball to move into a tie for second place in the Virginia all-time strikeout rankings, and he claimed sole possession of the spot with a pair of strikeouts in the seventh.
Cody Morissette and Brian Dempsey were the only BC batters to have any success against Abbott, with both reaching base safely twice. Virginia quickly snuffed out the opportunities, however, as Morissette was promptly picked off to end the first inning after singling. No BC player made it to second base against Abbott.
With the Cavaliers threatening to add to their advantage in the fourth inning, first baseman Ramon Jimenez made a spectacular play to snag a rocket off the bat of Cotier and get Gelof out at first to complete an unassisted double play.
But the strong defensive effort was not enough to stop the bleeding for long, as Virginia started the fifth with four straight singles and put three more runs on the board.
BC earned its only run in the eighth when the result of the game was already beyond doubt and Abbott had been replaced on the mound. Sal Frelick hit a two-out ground-rule double, and Morissette continued his strong game with a single to right to bring him home.
Joe Vetrano and Max Gieg each pitched a pair of scoreless innings for the Eagles to close out the game, a welcome performance for a bullpen that has struggled this season.
Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff