Spring, Sports, Baseball

Louisville Sweeps No. 9 Eagles as BC Drops First Series of Season

Boston College baseball’s program-record start has been a product of its resiliency. Entering Friday and Saturday’s games against No. 18 Louisville, the No. 9 Eagles had not lost two games in a row or a series all season.

Despite a ninth-inning rally in Thursday’s series opener against the Cardinals, BC (21–9, 8–7 Atlantic Coast) couldn’t carry that momentum into the win column for the rest of the series in Louisville, Ky., as the Eagles fell to Louisville (24–7, 7–5) 9–8 on Friday and 4–2 on Saturday.

“This is obviously a tough place to play, and it is a great place to play college baseball,” BC head coach Mike Gambino said. “But we’re used to that. Our guys are used to it, and enjoy it, and love it.”

With Louisville having already clinched the series, one inning ended up deciding Saturday’s contest. After the first three innings were scoreless, BC starting pitcher John West allowed a solo home run to Louisville’s first baseman Ryan McCoy in the bottom of the fourth inning. And then after a four-pitch walk to Patrick Forbes, West left the game with back tightness.

Reliever Eric Schroeder entered the game for West, but he failed to keep the damage minimal.

The Cardinals’ second run scored on a strikeout pitch that skipped off Peter Burns’ glove. JT Benson then singled on a ground ball that bounced high in the air to Sam McNulty, and Logan Beard followed with an RBI single. Christian Knapczyk, who had four hits in the first two games of the series, added a single up the middle to put Louisville up 4–0.

And while relief pitchers Ian Murphy and Andrew Roman allowed only two combined hits in the final three innings, the Eagles’ bats couldn’t get it done. Roman, however, threw two scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to a team-leading 0.90.

“It’s unbelievable, isn’t it?” Gambino said. “He’s been almost automatic, it’s felt like, when he’s come into the games. It gives us so much confidence. All three games we had a chance to win or tie at the end. Battling, and everyone knows if you can get that lead going into the ninth, Ro’s going to close this thing out.”

BC did have opportunities, as it scored two runs in the ninth inning to cut the deficit to two runs. The Eagles, however, ultimately left the tying run in scoring position when Patrick Roche hit a fly out, ending the series. 

Friday’s game, featuring BC ace Chris Flynn, was practically two different games, as BC started off hot and took a commanding 8–0 lead after 1.5 innings before the Cardinals eventually came storming back.

Louisville’s starting pitcher Greg Farone, a transfer from Herkimer and 2022’s NJCAA Division III Pitcher of the Year, sat down the first two BC batters in six pitches in the first inning. Two walks to Cameron Leary and Roche then set the table for Joe Vetrano, who entered the weekend leading the team in home runs and slugging percentage. Vetrano blasted Farone’s fastball over the centerfield wall, giving BC a 3–0 lead.

The Eagles loaded the bases on the next three batters with an Adonys Guzman single, a Nick Wang walk after a 12-pitch at-bat, and a Cohl Mercado walk. While no more runs scored—Vince Cimini struck out to end the inning—BC did damage, as Farone threw 46 pitches in the inning.

BC continued the scoring in the second inning, adding five more runs to sprint to an 8–0 lead. After he hit Burns with a pitch, Farone exited the game, and Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell put in relief pitcher Tucker Biven, who boasted a 1.17 ERA on the season heading into the game. Travis Honeyman, however, reached first base after Biven hit him with a pitch after a 13-pitch at-bat, and after a Leary line-drive double into right field, Roche scored Honeyman on an RBI single. 

Vetrano’s groundout added another run, and shortly after, Wang hit a two-run homer to left field to put the Eagles up eight.

Flynn, who earned Midseason All-American honors from D1Baseball this week, failed to hold the lead, as Louisville’s offense responded with three runs in the second inning and five in the third to tie the game. The eight earned runs that Flynn allowed on Friday matched the earned run total of his past seven starts combined.

“Chris Flynn has been unbelievable for us all year,” Gambino said. “Nobody’s perfect. Every once in a while you’re going to have an outing that’s not very good. He wasn’t very good this weekend. But I have full confidence and faith in Chris going forward.”

After 16 runs combined in the first three innings, only one more run scored in the remainder of the game.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Louisville’s Gavin Kilen hit a ground ball to second baseman Roche, but an errant throw allowed Beard to score from second base, just enough to win the game. Relievers Riley Phillips and Tate Kuehner pitched five one-hit innings, earning the series win for Louisville.

April 9, 2023