For its ACC home opener, No. 16 Boston College baseball was treated to passionate crowds throughout the stands and the outfield hill at Harrington Athletics Village. The BC community came out strong to support the Eagles in their contest against No. 24 NC State on Friday afternoon.
“The boys noticed, we all noticed,” BC head coach Mike Gambino said. “I mean, this place was packed, the hill. … I also want to win baseball games, but we want to give the students especially and the fans, we want to give them something they’ll want to be excited about for the spring. It’s important to us. So when they come out and recognize that it’s really cool, and they’re a part of this thing, they affected the game and they got the boys going.”
With a rowdy atmosphere behind it, BC (16–4, 5–2 Atlantic Coast) took a 3–0 lead in the bottom of the third inning and never looked back, responding to adversity with poise to get its first home conference victory of the season with a 4–1 win against the Wolfpack (16–6, 2–5).
“To start this at home and give you a chance to win another series against a really good ranked opponent,” Gambino said. “The season is about putting together a resume so at the end of the year when the selection committee looks at you they, they put you in the 64 or like, as we continue to go on, hopefully we can start talking about being hosts, so, the more ranked wins you can put together and the more series you can win, the better chance you have to be in those things.”
The Eagles escaped danger in the top of the second inning to keep the game scoreless. Carter Trice hit a single to left field to get on base for NC State, and BC starter Henry Leake then walked the next batter to give the Wolfpack two baserunners. A wild pitch allowed the runners to advance to second and third, but Leake struck out the next batter, Eli Serrano III, to get BC out of the jam.
BC got on the board first in the bottom of the third inning with a Travis Honeyman three-run home run. Honeyman sat out for BC’s first home game of the year with an undisclosed injury on Wednesday.
Nick Wang got on base by hitting a blooper over the pitcher for a single, and NC State pitcher Logan Whitaker hit Cohl Mercado by a pitch to put runners on first and second for the Eagles. Honeyman stepped up to the plate and—on the first pitch of his at-bat—clobbered a home run to left field to give BC a 3–0 lead.
The Wolfpack responded in the top of the fourth inning, however, as Jacob Cozart hit a double to the right field corner to open the inning. Cozart advanced to third on a groundout by Payton Green, and Will Marcy also grounded out to drive Cozart home, making the score 3–1.
The Eagles extended their lead to 4–1 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Patrick Roche annihilated a ball to right-center field for a double, and a Peter Burns’ single to center field scored Roche.
“This is game one of the series, the difference today was to see [Leake] throw the ball like he did,” Gambino said. “Generally he gives a really good outing and a chance to win and he just kept getting us back in the dugout and giving us a chance. They scored in the fourth, Travis goes up in the third, three-run home run, got the boys going, then they respond, and then we respond, which was huge.”
After six innings, right-hander Joey Ryan came in relief for Leake in the top of the seventh inning. NC State again threatened to score, getting two runners on base, but Ryan finished the seventh inning without giving up a run and recorded two strikeouts in the process.
In the eighth inning, Andrew Roman—who closed out Wednesday’s game against Sacred Heart—replaced Ryan on the mound for the Eagles. Despite NC State’s rally, BC escaped the inning unscathed. On a fielder’s choice, Wang threw out LuJames Groover III at home, preventing the Wolfpack from getting another run.
The eighth inning found BC unable to score another run, despite getting close. Honeyman blasted a double to left-center to start the inning. NC State pitcher Andrew Shaffner tried to pick Honeyman off but threw the ball into the outfield, allowing Honeyman to advance to third. After Sam McNulty walked, Cameron Leary hit a pop fly to the catcher that turned into a double play as NC State catcher Cozart tagged Honeyman out at the plate as he tried to come home.
In the top of the ninth inning—NC State’s last chance at redemption—pinch hitter Chase Nixon singled to right field to start things off, and Roman hit two batters to let the Wolfpack load the bases with the tying run on first. Roman was not fazed, though, notching two clutch strikeouts to end the game at 4–1.
“Obviously, it’s not exactly how you’d draw it up with a three-run lead in the ninth to hit two guys,” Gambino said. “But then for [Roman] to regroup and go punch out punch out … he looks like a veteran.”