Sports, Spring, Baseball

Eagles Keep Win Streak Alive, Leary Blasts Two Homers in 5–1 Win Over Kennesaw State

In 2022, only one player hit more than 15 home runs for Boston College baseball. It wasn’t Joe Vetrano or Travis Honeyman—the Eagles’ two projected MLB Draft first-rounders—and it wasn’t an upperclassman either. That player was Cameron Leary, BC’s then–sophomore outfielder who led BC’s 2022 roster with 16 home runs. 

Going into Sunday’s contest against Kennesaw State in the final matchup of a three-game series, Leary, a junior now, led BC with two home runs. In the second inning, Leary put the Eagles on the board with his third home run of the season and then notched his fourth home run of the season six innings later. 

“Leary, I mean, he’s the type of guy that every, like, you’re not gonna go to the concession stand when he’s coming to the plate ‘cause he can just do something exciting,” BC head coach Mike Gambino said. “I haven’t seen the tracking data yet—we’ll get that afterwards—but I think both of those home runs were well over 400 feet.”

On the backs of Leary’s batting and a shut-down pitching outing from freshman starter Bobby Chicoine and reliever Eric Schroeder, BC (8–1) coasted to a 5–1 victory over the Owls (5–5). The win marked a series sweep and BC’s best record in its first nine games of a season since 2016. 

Following a Patrick Roche strikeout in the top of the second inning, Leary stepped up to the plate and blasted his first home run of the game, thrusting the Eagles into the front seat with a 1–0 lead. Nick Wang singled through the left side as the next man up, but Peter Burns’ groundball forced a double play to end the inning. 

Chicoine—who tossed four scoreless innings before earning one run in the fifth—recorded a 1–2–3 inning in the third, tallying his third strikeout of the day on Kennesaw State’s Jamarie Brooks. 

Chicoine finished the game with five strikeouts while allowing just three hits and the Owls’ sole run.

“Bobby made a really nice adjustment coming off the last weekend,” Gambino said. “He was very good last weekend, if you looked at the first inning, he gave up three hits with the exit velocity and all three were like low 80s. He just kind of rolled over and rolled through, so we’re excited about him.” 

The top of the fourth inning didn’t go as smoothly for the Eagles, as BC’s heart of the order of Vetrano, Roche, and Leary all recorded an out. But in the bottom of the fourth, Chicoine picked up right where he started, knocking out the first batter on a 1–2 count and then forcing the next two batters to ground out.  

In the fifth inning, Kennesaw State’s Jackson Chirello clipped a home run off Chicoine’s then-clean performance, but the Eagles escaped the inning with only one run of damage. 

Schroeder came in to replace Chicoine on the mound in the sixth inning and put away the side.

“I do like where we are,” Gambino said of BC’s pitching corps. “I like the ability to have, you know, some of these guys give us some length from our bullpen.” 

The Eagles got the ball rolling again in the seventh inning, as Leary—who scored three times in the game—reached first base on a walk, proceeded to steal second, and then advanced to third on a catching error by Nick Hassan. Tyler Franks, who came in to replace the Owls’ starter Braden Osbolt, intentionally walked Wang, and then walked Burns to load the bases.

Kennesaw State’s dugout manager opted for another change from the bullpen, as right-handed pitcher Nolan Sliver came in to replace Franks. 

But Vince Cimini, up next, roped a sacrifice fly ball to right field, scoring Leary to put the Eagles up 2–1, igniting BC’s bats.

Barry Walsh scored Wang and advanced Burns to second base with a single to center field, and Cohl Mercado posted a single to score Burns and advance Walsh all the way to third after that. After Mercado stole second, Honeyman struck out looking to register the final out of the top of the inning and effectively end the Eagles’ short rally that put them up 4–1. 

Leary belted his second home run of the game in the top of the eighth inning to take a 5–1 lead for BC, and from there, Schroeder kept a steady rhythm on the mound, pitching lights out for the rest of the game to capture BC’s eighth straight win. 

“As far as the effect on the team, Tuesday’s the biggest game of the year because it’s the next one, that’s it” Gambino. “And then when we get to Wednesday, Wednesday’s the biggest game of the year. Honestly, we’re not concerned or care or talking

March 6, 2023