Ten days before No. 14 Boston College baseball faced off against Georgia Tech in the first of a three-game series on Friday, the Eagles defeated Sacred Heart in their first home game of the year on a walk-off single from Vince Cimini. Five days later, BC walked off again—that time, in the 10th inning against then-No. 24 NC State.
Despite being in a similar position against the Yellow Jackets on Friday—down 5–4 with the tying runner on first base and the potential game-winning runner at the plate—the Eagles (18–6, 6–4 Atlantic Coast) failed to overcome the one-run deficit and fell to Georgia Tech (17–9, 6–4) 5–4.
“If you tell me every game the rest of the year [that] I’ll have Travis Honeyman at the plate with a chance to win the game, I will take my chances,” BC head coach Mike Gambino said. “He got them last time and didn’t get it done today.”
In BC’s 8–7, extra innings victory over the Wolfpack last Sunday, Honeyman knocked home the winning run. Honeyman was in a position once again on Friday to score the game-saving run, but couldn’t muster the same result, striking out to end the game.
BC didn’t post a run on the board for the first five innings of the game, and didn’t record a hit until the bottom of the fourth inning. That is because the Yellow Jackets’ starter, Luke Schmolke, effectively shut down the Eagles’ lineup for the first half of the game, pitching the first five innings allowing only two hits. Schmolke, with an over-the-top swoop motion, notched four strikeouts and four walks in the affair.
“He’s got a deceptive fastball,” Gambino said of Schmolke. “We knew it. It’s the thing with his fastball is there are times it’s got some carry, there’s times it’s got a little bit of cut. There’s some inconsistency in a good way in what the ball does.”
BC’s starting pitcher, Henry Leake, earned five runs on five hits in only four innings of action.
The Yellow Jackets quickly jumped to a 3–0 lead in the top of the first inning with RBIs from Jackson Finley and Drew Compton, and then added to their lead in the third with two more runs.
Kristian Campbell—who registered two hits and two runs in the contest—singled to kickstart the top of the third, and advanced to second base on the next batter’s groundout. Angelo Dispigna then advanced Campbell to third base with a flyout to deep right center field.
After Leake hit Finley with a pitch, Compton doubled down the left field line to score both runners, making it 5–0.
“People get caught up in rankings, especially in this league,” Gambino said. “Haven’t seen that team in a while, but you can pick it up—they’re a really good team. But we’ve been in this spot before where we lost game one. We have to play them out tomorrow and still have a chance to win the series.”
Left-hander Matthew Nunan replaced Leake in the top of the fifth inning, though, and silenced Georgia Tech’s lineup for two innings before BC finally got its first run in the bottom of the sixth.
“I was very happy with their fight,” Gambino said of BC’s relief pitchers. “I was very happy with what we did in the second half of the game. I’m really happy with our arms in the second half of the game.”
Honeyman and Joe Vetrano walked back-to-back to start off the bottom of the sixth inning, and after a first-pitch ball to Patrick Roche, the Yellow Jackets’ elected to replace Schmolke with Ben King. Honeyman reached third base on a dropped pitch and eventually trekked his way home with Roche grounding out into a double play, picking up BC’s first run.
The Eagles tallied two more runs in the seventh inning to make it 5–3 with RBIs from Nick Wang and Barry Walsh, and rallied for another run in the eighth to make it 5–4.
After relief pitcher Ian Murphy put the Yellow Jackets’ side away in the top of the eighth inning, left-handed pitcher Camron Hill took the mound for Georgia Tech. In quick succession, Vetrano and Roche lit Hill up, piping back-to-back doubles. Roche’s double scored Vetrano to cut the deficit to one.
But right-hander Demitri Diamant lowered the Eagles’ hopes, getting through a runner-on-second, no-out situation to keep the one-run lead.
Although BC’s relief pitchers—Nunan, Murphy, and Julian Tonghini—combined for zero earned runs and just three hits, the Eagles’ offense fell just short of pulling off another fairy tale ending.
“Really good ACC baseball game, and when those things happen, it comes down to a couple of two-out hits,” Gambino said. “They got today. But it’s a one-run ball game in the ACC—that’s how these things go.”