Sports, Spring, Baseball

From Rivals to Roommates: How Chris Flynn and Andrew Roman Went From Division III Competitors to Dominant ACC Pitchers 

It’s the top of the ninth inning, and there’s just one player who can carry No. 3-seed Roger Williams baseball to another round of conference tournament play in its 2022 season. It’s Chris Flynn. 

Flynn is no ordinary ballplayer. A batter-pitcher hybrid, Flynn held the second-best batting average on Roger Williams’ 2022 roster with a .322 and second-best ERA at 2.21. That’s no fluke. Flynn is highly skilled, with abilities to not only play on both sides of the ball, but excel in both. 

After collecting a win over No. 4-seed Nichols and a loss to No. 2-seed Endicott in the 2022 Commonwealth Coast Conference Tournament, Roger Williams went on to face top-seeded Salve Regina to either make or break its season depending on the outcome of the game. If the Hawks won, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee would likely have selected Roger Williams to host a regional. But thanks to Salve Regina’s closer, Andrew Roman, they did not. 

In four previous appearances at the plate before his final at-bat in the ninth inning, Flynn flew out, was hit by a pitch, singled, and then struck out at the hands of Roman. Roman locked down from there, sitting down the side in the top of the eighth and striking out the first batter he faced in the top of the ninth. 

After letting up two singles and a walk, however, it was up to Flynn to tie the game up—down 5–1 with three runners in scoring position, a home run could do just that. But the Hawks’ tournament run would go no further, as Roman forced Flynn to fly out in what would become Flynn’s last plate appearance as a member of Roger Williams’ program. 

Fast forward to the summer of 2022—just weeks after Salve Regina’s season came to an end as well—and Flynn and Roman were meeting up once again. Only this time, they were discussing next steps in their careers, respectively, while competing in the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s summer season. 

“It was crazy when we both committed to BC,” Flynn said. “I knew who he was, and we played each other in the summer. I went up to him, I was like, ‘what’s up.’ You know, I love talking to DIII guys who are playing NECBL—which is mainly all DI—so I go up to talk to him.” 

Flynn didn’t just want to know what was up with Roman, though. He wanted to know if Roman was getting the same attention from Division I programs that were scouting in the area, just like he was. 

“Of course I knew who he was,” Flynn said. “We were rivals. So we’re just talking, I’m like, ‘how’s it going? Like, you know, how’s everything working out, what are your plans?’ And he’s like a beast, he’s actually talking to me. I’m like, ‘damn, crazy,’ because then, you know, Coach Vance told me that he committed and then a week later I committed. It was really cool.” 

After an abysmal year in terms of pitching for No. 14 Boston College baseball—the Eagles ranked last in ERA in the ACC in 2022—BC head coach Mike Gambino and pitching coach Kevin Vance, who was added to the staff in 2022, looked toward the prospect portal. Vance, with duties as both a pitching coach and a recruiting coordinator, was highly responsible for bringing Flynn and Roman to the Heights as graduate transfers for the 2023 season. 

“I ended up touring the Pete Frates Center first with Coach Vance,” Roman said. “And what I really liked about my visit is that he was just straight up with me. They, like, laid it out for me that you had to work really hard in order to be in a situation. I looked at myself and was like, ‘this is something I want to do and I think I can.’”

Flynn said it was also a matter of helping the Eagles bounce back from a season in which they captured only five conference wins and uplift the rotation. 

“And coming off the year they had—I know I wasn’t there—but I know there was a lot of talks about, you know, the pitching staff not getting it done,” Flynn said. “I feel like I automatically took that personally.” 

While Flynn had been recruited to be a sure-fire starter for BC, Roman’s assignment was less visible at the time.

“They would label me as the closer at Salve [Regina],” Roman said. “I think the biggest difference between there and here was that Vance told me straight out that they didn’t want to have a closer role. We have a bunch of guys that can fill that position.”

But 26 games into the 2023 season, and with BC notching its highest rank in program history, Flynn and Roman have solidified themselves as the Eagles’ top starter and closer, respectively. 

“Both of those guys are very focused,” Gambino said. “There’s a very professional feel about it, and they’re coming into a program that they didn’t have any of the facilities resources that we have. There’s humility and there’s a gratitude, which I feel is really important to our program.” 

From rivals to roommates, Flynn and Roman did not only climb the ranks of Division III baseball to make mere contributions to a Division I program. They’ve become two of the best pitchers in the ACC in their respective fields and are prime reasons for BC’s success this season. 

“The way they’re going about your business, you’re earning the respect of your teammates, and you can start to take a leadership role towards the end of the fall,” Gambino said of what he told the two of them during preseason. “They weren’t afraid to say, ‘even though I’ve had success with this in the past, I understand I might have to make adjustments and change things.’” 

While Flynn has stamped his name on the Saturday starter role, Roman has appeared in all types of high-leverage situations this year. He’s best known for closing out games and posting consecutive zeros across the scoreboard while doing so. 

“They basically said that we need you in high-leverage, doesn’t matter if it’s the fifth inning, sixth inning, seventh inning,” Roman said. “That was good prep for my brain for positions like that. So that even if I’m closing or we’re going into the 10th tied, it doesn’t matter—get your outs.” 

In 10 appearances this season, Roman has contributed six saves. His 1.08 ERA in 16.2 innings pitched is the lowest among all BC relievers by a wide margin. 

Flynn’s 1.76 ERA is good for first on the team for starters and eighth in the entire ACC. In 41.0 innings, the 6-foot-4 right-hander has registered 53 strikeouts to just 14 walks. 

For both pitchers, the numbers jump right off the page. But they put up those numbers so differently.   

“In different ways, they bring maturity, confidence, and like a chip on their shoulder,” Gambino said. “We as a program want all three of those things for all of our guys, right? Flynny’s is louder, more boisterous. Ro’s is more of a quiet confidence. But yeah, the confidence, the maturity, the competitiveness, and the chip on their shoulder.”

Saturday’s 3–1 victory over Georgia Tech—in which Flynn pitched six innings, earning just one run and striking out nine batters and Roman closed the game, earning zero runs in 1.1 innings—showcased exactly what Gambino was talking about. When Gambino said that Flynn throws with a chip on his shoulder, it really shows. 

“Angry but in control,” Flynn said of his pitching style. “Pitching’s personal, you know what I mean? It’s me versus the batter, you know, for as many batters as I face in the game. It didn’t take long for me to take identity with this pitching staff.” 

After throwing strikes, Flynn remains tranquil but keeps his composure, glaring down every batter he faces. But after ending an inning, Flynn explodes with fiery pride, curling his fists into a strength pose before strutting to the dugout with a stomp in his step. He is what the Eagles lacked in 2022—a recognizable identity

“You have the opportunity to own it—to own the game—to dictate what happens,” Flynn said. “Some people see that and don’t think anything of it. Some people see it and nerves get to them. Some people see it as an opportunity to prove themselves. I love it. I rise up to it.”

Roman’s style, like Gambino expressed, is silent but game-deciding. Sporting a mustache and standing at 6-feet tall, Roman will quietly put a lineup to sleep without missing a beat, but will do it with grace. His professionalism is glowing, and his slider, with a menacing hook on the ball, fools batters with its precision.

“I would say I had the confidence and was getting the pitch in the zone, but I’d have days where I’m backing it up and I’m trying to figure it out mechanically,” Roman said of his development at Salve Regina. “So I think coming here, there’s been some cues that I picked up that have really helped me with putting the ball in certain spots in certain counts, and then being able to work away from each of those pitches.”

With those two on the mound, Gambino said he feels a kind of stability he’s lacked in years prior.  

“The combination of those two basically shuts down the run game,” Gambino said. “You know, Adonys [Guzman] said to me the other day, he’s like, ‘Coach, I haven’t thrown anybody out in a while.’ Well, Flynny’s controlling the runners and everybody sees what you can do behind the plate. They just can’t go—you are stopping them. So it’s just a really good combination, with Roman as well.” 

And if it weren’t for Gambino’s style of coaching, the two of them—who room together along with right-handed reliever Ian Murphy—probably wouldn’t have come to BC in the first place.

“I’ve been around college baseball to know that you’re not committing to the bells and whistles,” Flynn said. “At the end of the day, you’re committing to a coaching staff. I felt like from the beginning, Coach Gambino was really honest with me. This is where I wanna be.”


April 2, 2023