But BC (9–12, 1–6 Atlantic Coast) couldn’t stop the ACC-leading Cardinals (17–5, 3–0) and opened its first home series of the season with a 6–1 loss.
To kick off the weekend series, the Eagles trotted out right-hander Joe Mancini to take on left-hander Tate Kuehner of the Cardinals. Both pitchers came into the game undefeated, with Mancini sporting a 4.62 ERA and Kuehner a 3.04 ERA. Neither one gave up a run through the first four innings.
A wild throw on a pick-off attempt in the second inning left Mancini with a runner on third and two outs. After a long at-bat by Levi Usher, Mancini finally struck him out for the third out of the inning.
Mancini continued rolling in the fourth inning by striking out three of the four batters he faced. He finished the game with five strikeouts and only two runs given up in five innings.
Kuehner matched Mancini’s performance. Although he faced base traffic in the third and fourth innings, Kurhner got out of both situations with well-placed breaking balls to BC’s hitters.
After Kuehner cruised through the third, BC quickly put runners on base in the fourth, with a walk for Luke Gold and a bunt by catcher Peter Burns. Kuehner once again got himself out of the jam, however, by striking out Patrick Roche in three pitches. Kuehner finished the game with only one run given up in 5.2 innings pitched.
In the top of the fifth inning, Louisville’s bottom of the order broke the scoreless tie. After getting a strikeout, Mancini gave up singles to Logan Beard and Issac Humphrey with just one out. Benny Bianco hit a chopper into left field for an RBI single. With two outs, Ben Metzinger took a pitch to the right-center gap for a two-RBI single, bringing in Bianco and Humphrey to make it a 2–0 game.
The Eagles came right back in the bottom of the sixth inning, however. Leary first got on base after being hit in the back by Kuehner. Then, Joe Vetrano and Parker Landwehr hit back-to-back singles, with Landwehr’s single bringing in Leary to make it 2–1.
But just when it seemed like the Eagles’ offense was gaining some momentum, Vetrano tried stealing third and was picked off in a run down.
“It was a dirt ball read on a breaking ball,” BC head coach Mike Gambino said after the game. “He started to go and then stopped and hesitated. It was really hard to read.”
Right hander Henry Leake, who replaced Mancini, was rolling with two outs in the seventh inning until Bianco hit a moon shot to center making it a 3–1 game. Metzinger then hit a two-run shot to give the Cardinals a 5–1 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, with Sam McNulty and Barry Walsh on base, leadoff man Travis Honeyman hit what looked like a foul ball off his foot. The umpire called it fair, however, and it turned into a double-play, stunting another Eagles’ run.
“Obviously it was a big part of the game and it’s not one of those calls that’s reviewable,” Gambino said. “We would say it’s bad luck but they [the Cardinals] would say they got the call right.”
After a one-two-three inning by Charlie Coon to start the eighth, the Eagles looked to cut into the deficit once again. And after a leadoff double by Gold, it seemed that they might. But Louisville brought in left-handed pitcher Gerrett Schmeltz to retire the 4–6 hitters in order. Louisville scored one more in the ninth to make it 6–1.
“I thought we had really good at-bats, … probably for or five hits that we just missed,” Gambino said. “We did make the two base-running mistakes, and against a team like that, when you have those chances, you need to capitalize.”
Featured Image by Nicole Wei / Heights Staff