Sports, Spring, Baseball

Eagles Win One, Lose One Over Weekend, Drop Series to Duke in Front of Record Crowd

Despite boasting a record 13 games above .500, it has rarely been smooth sailing for No. 11 Boston College baseball this season. 

“I think not many of them have just been smooth sailing … it doesn’t seem like there were many, like, wire-to-wire, we’ve got the lead all the way through wins,” BC head coach Mike Gambino said.

The Eagles have seen everything from early deficits, midweek slugfests against nonconference opponents, and stunning comebacks. By weathering this adversity-ridden storm, a distinct identity, characterized by resilience, has emerged for this BC team. 

BC’s resiliency was again tested this past weekend against Duke, as the Eagles fell into early holes in both of their weekend contests. While BC (24–11, 9–9 Atlantic Coast) overcame a five-run deficit on Saturday to beat the Blue Devils (23–12, 9–8) 9–6, the Eagles couldn’t muster enough offensive firepower on Sunday, falling by a final score of 6–2. 

Sunday’s loss marked BC’s first home series of loss of the season, but the weekend came with another milestone. On Saturday, underneath a pristine spring sky, 2,535 fans packed the stands and lined the outfield hill—setting a Harrington Athletics Village attendance record, according to BC Athletics. 

“This has never happened here before,” BC head coach Mike Gambino said Saturday. “Their head coach talked about [how] this was a great college baseball atmosphere yesterday, and that it affected and rattled their players. There’s never been a real crowd home field advantage in the history of this program. And that’s because of the student body and alumni coming out. The students need to know how special and important that is.”

The Blue Devils wasted no time offensively on Sunday, as Alex Mooney launched a leadoff double. Alex Stone drove him in two at-bats later via an RBI groundout for a 1–0 Duke lead. 

BC starter John West ran into some more trouble in the fourth inning, surrendering a pair of runs to put the Blue Devils ahead 3–0. Duke’s starter Ryan Higgins, meanwhile, cruised through five innings of one-hit ball.

With Higgins out of the game, the Eagles’ bats finally started to warm up. BC notched a run in both the sixth and seventh innings, the latter of which came off a Cameron Leary homer—setting up the possibility of more late-game heroics. 

With one swing of the bat, however, Andrew Fischer ended those hopes. 

Duke, however, had other ideas. Facing Charlie Coon with two runners on in the top of the ninth inning, Fischer blasted a no-doubt moonshot over the right-field fence to put Duke ahead 6–2—all but ending BC’s attempt at a second-straight comeback victory. 

Unlike on Sunday, BC grabbed an early lead Saturday, thanks to a balk from Duke starter Alex Gow in the third inning. The Blue Devils punched right back in the next inning, however, and plated five runs off five hits and a pair of BC errors. Three of those fourth-inning runs were credited against Eagles’ starter Chris Flynn. 

“We defensively let Chris down,” Gambino said. “I think he threw better than what his line said.”

Duke added another run in the following inning when Luke Storm blasted a home run off of Flynn, putting the Blue Devils ahead 6–1 and deflating the spirits of the BC fans in attendance. 

But the Eagles’ bats came alive in the sixth inning, unleashing an offensive onslaught to reclaim an 8–6 lead. It started with a Nick Wang two-run RBI double down the left field line to cut Duke’s lead to three. Itv was Travis Honeyman who reclaimed the Eagles’ lead via a two-run RBI double of his own. Joe Vetrano hit a fly out for the final run of the inning.

After BC picked up another run in the seventh inning when Barry Walsh ripped a double to center field, Andrew Roman shut the door on the Blue Devils, recording three innings of clean relief. 

The comeback win was a fitting display of grit on a day that came exactly 10 years after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings—and BC was wearing its new Boston Marathon jersey’s in support.

“There’s a confidence,” Gambino said. “And they figure out ways to win baseball games and they know they’re gonna be able to do it.”

And despite the series loss, Gambino remains confident in the Eagles’ resilient identity. 

“When they get punched in the face, it’s like they just go,” Gambino said. “It’s a special group.”

April 16, 2023