Sports, Spring, Baseball

Eagles Rebound, Win Opening Series at Pepperdine with Saturday Shutout and Sunday Blowout 

After being shut out in its season opener Friday, Boston College baseball set the tone for the remainder of its series against Pepperdine with a 16-hit, 18-run win Sunday, and a 3–0 shut out win Saturday. With contributions up and down the lineup from returners and newcomers alike, BC’s offense was relentless in the latter two contests, but its pitching also came through—which it had failed to do in Friday’s matchup. 

On Sunday, BC (2–1) scored four runs off four different Pepperdine (1–2) pitchers. Seniors Vince Cimini and Barry Walsh—both opening-day starters on last year’s team—recorded three hits and three runs scored apiece. Freshman leadoff hitter Cohl Mercado—who didn’t play Friday—added a four-hit day at the plate with four RBIs, and sophomore Holy Cross transfer Nick Wang did not make an out in five plate appearances, walking three times and hitting two singles. 

Behind scoreless relief from Bobby Chicoine, Julian Tonghini, Joey Ryan and Matthew Nunan, the Eagles sealed an 18–6 victory and opening series win on Sunday in Malibu. 

BC starting pitcher Sean Hard and Pepperdine starter Trevor Kniskern each posted scoreless opening frames. But after that, each team’s offense told the rest of the story. Walsh began the scoring in the top of the second, scoring Wang and Cimini on an error by Pepperdine shortstop John Peck. Mercado added an RBI on a groundout, and Travis Honeyman scored Walsh on a double to left, making it a four-run second inning for the Eagles. The Waves added two of their own in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with one out and scoring two on Quin Landis’ RBI hit-by-pitch and Jack Goodman’s RBI sacrifice fly. 

Pepperdine took the lead in the third behind back-to-back home runs from first baseman Greg Mehlhaff and second baseman Ryan Johnson, making it 5–4 Waves. Bobby Chicoine took the mound for the Eagles, inducing a 4-6-3 double play and striking out Cole Sheehan to end the inning, however. 

The Eagles took control of the game in the fourth and did not relinquish their lead. Walsh began the inning with a solo home run, and after four walks and four singles, the Eagles held the lead again at 12–5. Pepperdine relievers Dylan Stewart and Gunnar Nichols had difficulty consistently throwing strikes, allowing four walks in the inning, including two with the bases loaded. 

BC added runs in the fifth, seventh, and eighth innings. In 58 plate appearances, the Eagles struck out a total of five times. Every one of BC’s starters scored at least once, and eight Eagles recorded a hit. Both offense and defense were fundamentally sound, with the defense committing no errors in the game and the offense hitting .407 with runners on base and .372 overall.

The Eagles tasked Chris Flynn—a graduate transfer from Roger Williams University—with bringing the series back to even on Saturday after Friday’s loss. A converted starter after four seasons of relief, Flynn posted a 2.21 ERA in 2022 for Roger Williams, striking out 95 batters in nine starts. 

Named to all-conference teams twice during his career at Roger Williams, Flynn began his career at BC as Saturday’s starter, and he lived up to Gambino’s expectations. With a three-run lead before he stepped on the mound, Flynn pitched six scoreless innings, striking out seven and earning the win in his debut. 

All three of BC’s runs in the low-scoring affair were captured in the top of the first. After being shut out on Friday, the Eagles ended their scoreless streak on the third batter of the game as Joe Vetrano drove in leadoff man Mercado, putting BC up 1–0. 

Mercado stole second after drawing a four-pitch walk, and Vetrano scored him with an RBI single to right field. Second baseman Patrick Roche stepped up next and blasted a two-run home run to make it 3–0 Eagles. Flynn struck out three Waves in the bottom of the inning, but allowed a single to Pepperdine’s all-WCC preseason team player John Peck. 

Flynn followed his first inning with four consecutive 1-2-3 innings, striking out three more Pepperdine hitters. The Eagles nearly added to their lead in the fifth after Travis Honeyman doubled down the left field line and Vetrano walked with no outs. But Roche and Cameron Leary were unable to score them. 

Flynn—with zero earned runs on 76 pitches—handed the ball over to reliever John West for the last three innings. West, utilizing the breaking ball, struck out three over three scoreless innings, earning the save and locking in the Eagles’ first win of the 2023 season. 

February 20, 2023