Sports, Spring, Baseball

Eagles Rebound, Capture Back-to-Back Victories to Earn Series Win at No. 21 Florida State

Whether it’s starting pitching, bullpen performance, batting, base running, or situational hitting, it’s standard to blame one of those elements of a baseball team if it loses repeatedly. In 2022, for instance, Boston College baseball’s pitching identity was at the root of the Eagles’ troubles, as BC registered the lowest-ranked ERA in the ACC. 

But BC head coach Mike Gambino has not been faced with that type of dilemma this season—where one element of the team is so wayward that it affects the outcome of most games.

After the Eagles’ (14–3, 5–2 Atlantic Coast) 13th and 14th wins of the season—a 4–2 and 8–2 victory over No. 21 Florida State (12–8, 3–3) on Saturday and Sunday, and their fourth and fifth win against a ranked opponent this year—Gambino cited BC’s learning experience in 2022 as a gateway for consistent success in 2023. 

“The lessons weren’t wasted,” Gambino said. “So you’re seeing that all the way through. Now you got guys with another year of experience, another year of growth and development and maturity. In a lot of ways, last year was part of this year’s learning process.”

After having to utilize six pitchers en route to a 19–8 loss against the Seminoles on Friday, BC sent out just five pitchers in the latter two games of the series combined—two on Saturday and three on Sunday. 

“[Flynn] did a great job, [West] did a great job, Leake did a great job, and they kept getting us back in the dugout which is critical for keeping up the offense,” Gambino said of BC’s weekend rotation. “When you get a little something going and then you go to defense and then you’re right back in the dugout, it feels like a rally at times.”

Sunday’s game in Tallahassee, Fla. featured right-handers John West and Henry Leake for four innings each. West struck out five batters and earned zero runs in the first four innings of the game, and Leake registered seven strikeouts and earned zero runs in the next four innings. Despite allowing three hits and one run in the ninth inning, relief pitcher Julian Tonghini safely exited the game without a deep cut into the Eagles’ lead. 

Heading into the fifth inning up 2–1, BC fired off another three runs, starting the rally with a Cameron Leary single. Despite facing two outs with Leary only advancing to second base stealing, the Eagles didn’t let the situation faze them. 

After Vince Cimini reached first on a fielding error by Florida State third baseman Nander De Sedas, shifting Leary to third base, Cohl Mercado stepped up to the plate and singled through the middle of the infield. Leary safely trotted home and Cimini flew into the bag seconds later, barely avoiding the tag and adding a second run.

“It was a really, really big inning,” Gambino said. “Picking up a few runs with two outs and again, it’s part of the personality of this club a little bit. Like you’re gonna fight and scrap all the way to the end, each inning, each pitch, each game all the way through.”

Mercado began tip-toeing on the base bath with Barry Walsh up next, and then started ferociously running to third base attempting to steal. Florida State catcher Colton Vincent flung the ball to third, but it missed wide right, and Mercado captured the third run of the inning, making the score 5–1 in BC’s favor.  

The Eagles added three insurance in the eighth inning—sparked by Travis Honeyman and Joe Vetrano reaching base as the first two batters—extending the lead to 8–1. Tonghini avoided extensive run damage in the ninth inning as the Eagles secured the win.  

Saturday’s matchup against the Seminoles was all Chris Flynn, as BC’s leader in ERA (0.91) and strikeouts (41) struck out nine batters and earned only one run in seven innings. 

In the third inning, the first four Eagles to step up to the plate got on base. After Cimini walked, Adonys Guzman fired a single to right field, and Walsh—who leads BC in batting average with a .383—doubled down the right field line as well, scoring Cimini and advancing Guzman to third. 

Florida State pitcher Jamie Arnold threw a wild pitch on the next at-bat, scoring Guzman and advancing Walsh to third, and Honeyman was then hit by a pitch, reaching first. Vetrano flew out but recorded an RBI by scoring Walsh for the final run of the inning to put BC up 3–0.  

Flynn gave up his only run of the game in the fourth inning, but both teams split runs in the fifth, and Flynn continued his shut-down performance all the way through the seventh inning. Andrew Roman—coming in relief for Flynn—threw the final two innings scoreless, notching the 4–2 victory. 

“Expectations are external,” Gambino said. “It’s cool and I’m excited and people will start to talk about our program and all that stuff, but internally, it’s just go back to business as usual and doing our job and taking care of our thing.”

Across the Eagles’ 14 wins of the season, BC’s offense has accumulated 102 total runs. 

“We wanna give the students something fun and exciting to cheer about,” Gambino said. “It’s obvious we all love what lacrosse does every season, and I’m so proud of our students, the way they have been, and our fans going to lacrosse games. The more fun things that we can give our students to do, the better.”

March 19, 2023