Before Friday, 2016 was the last time Boston College baseball was in the tournament field. Back then, the Eagles swept the Oxford Regional as the No. 3 seed with wins over Tulane, Utah, and a rematch with the Green Wave, but went on to drop a rubber-match game against ACC rival Miami that ended their tournament hopes.
Seven years later, those hopes are looking much thinner after just one game.
BC started right-handed pitcher John West—who recorded a 1.63 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, and 6.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio since April 28—but a two-hour rain delay forced the Shrewsberry, MA. native off the mound after a 1-2-3 top of the second inning.
Despite a ninth-inning rally attempt and Joe Vetrano’s two home runs, BC (35–19, 16–14 Atlantic Coast) dropped its first game of the 2023 Tuscaloosa Regional 11–10 to Troy (40–20, 18–12 Sun Belt). Relief pitcher Joey Ryan’s five earned runs in a pivotal seventh inning left the Eagles too stunned to complete the comeback.
Despite going into the game scorching-hot, West uncharacteristically walked the first batter he faced—leadoff man Kole Myers. It didn’t take long for Meyers, the leader in stolen bases for the Trojans, to reach third base as Ethan Kavanagh singled, and Caleb Bortorelo knocked the two runs in with a single.
Donavan Whibbs hit a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 3–0, but that was all the Trojans would get as West struck out two of the final three batters.
If West’s head was hanging low in the dugout, a spark was found in Barry Walsh as the BC leadoff hitter blasted a double to left center. Walsh scored on an error in the infield to make it 3–1.
After his laborious top of the first inning with 29 total pitches, West picked up a huge head of steam in the top of the second with a quick 1-2-3 appearance. That 1-2-3 inning style is typical for West, who is known to be economical with his pitches and hasn’t pitched over 80 pitches in a game this season.
Sam McNulty turned on the first ball he saw in the bottom of the second inning for a one-out standup double, and just one batter later, Walsh nuked a ball to right-center to tie the game 3–3. Walsh hit the ball at the perfect time, too, as the next batter was forced to go back to the dugout for the rain delay, where BC head coach Mike Gambino could be seen helping pull out the tarp.
When the game finally resumed at 6:05 p.m., Troy right-hander Ben Thompson took the mound, and walked the first two BC batters he faced with two outs. Nevertheless, Thompson stopped the damage with an inning-ending strikeout of the top Eagles’ hitter, Vetrano.
BC made a replacement on the rubber as well, giving the ball to Eric Schroeder—who owns the best strike percentage in BC’s bullpen—and he put the Trojans down 1-2-3.
Just after Schroeder threw another 1-2-3 inning with a slew of sliders in the top of the fifth, Vetrano went deep for the 19th time this season in the bottom of the inning. The ball cleared the center-field wall at Sewell-Thomas Stadium and the batter’s eye, landing at 448 feet to put the Eagles up 4–3.
Despite everything Schroeder did—he finished with three strikeouts and one earned run in 4.1 innings—reliever Joey Ryan came into the game and gave up a three-RBI homer in the top of the seventh inning, which silenced BC. Ryan then let up another home run to Bortorelo which made it 8–4 Trojans.
BC picked up another two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Troy added two more in the top of the eighth to keep the same score differential. That was until Vetrano pummeled his second home run of the night in the bottom of the eighth, scoring Walsh and Burns to cut the deficit to 10–9.
Relief pitcher Charlie Coon let up a gut-wrenching solo home run in the top of the ninth inning, however, and although the Eagles put four men on base in the bottom of the ninth, they could only muster one run, falling 11–10 to the Trojans. BC left 13 runners in scoring position in the contest, in what might have turned out to be the defining moment of the season.