Survive and advance. That has been Boston College baseball’s only option if it wants to keep its regional hopes—and season—alive.
And that is exactly what the Eagles did in their second elimination game of the 2023 Tuscaloosa Regional behind a pitching clinic with a trip to the Regional Final on the line.
The Eagles (37–19, 16–14 Atlantic Coast) shut down Troy’s (40–22, 18–12 Sunbelt) offense behind performances from John West and Eric Schroeder who allowed just one run on eight hits through a combined nine innings. The Eagles took an early one-run lead in the first inning and piled on three more runs in the top of the eighth to eventually take down the Trojans 4–1 after dropping their first game of the Regional to Troy two days earlier.
It took three pitches for BC to find itself on the scoreboard. On a 1–1 count, Barry Walsh continued the Eagles’ offensive power with a towering opposite-field home run over the right-field wall to give BC an early 1–0 lead.
It looked as though BC would break the game wide open when Peter Burns roped a single and Patrick Roche added a third BC hit with no outs, but Burns was thrown out at third and the momentum of the inning was lost. Troy’s starting pitcher, Grayson Stewart, escaped the inning with just one BC run crossing the plate in what could have been a disastrous start for the Trojans.
The Eagles’ offense went silent after the opening inning, but John West and the BC defense contained Troy to no runs. A Nick Wang “bang-bang play” throw to home prevented Kole Meyers from tying the game in the bottom of the first, and in the second, a West strikeout left two Trojan base runners stranded.
After a scoreless third and fourth inning for BC, the defense continued to hold the Trojans scoreless and maintained the Eagles’ one-run lead. West started the bottom of the fourth with five straight balls, but BC escaped yet another inning behind a highlight-reel 4-6-3 double play and an emphatic strikeout from West.
Following a high-intensity bottom of the fourth inning, BC’s offense failed to match that energy, going down in 1-2-3 fashion for the second time in the game.
Troy, on the other hand, found itself in striking position in the bottom of the fifth inning. After two back-to-back fielding miscues from Sam McNulty and Vince Cimini, and a hit by pitch to load the bases, BC head coach Mike Gambino pulled West from the mound in favor of reliever Eric Schroeder with just one out.
A ground ball which led to a force out at home followed by a strikeout for Schroeder left three Trojans stranded on base, as the heart of BC’s lineup was coming up in the start of the sixth—Patrick Roche, Vetrano, and Nick Wang.
But the third 1-2-3 inning silenced the Eagles’ hopes of extending their lead. Roche struck out looking, and Vetrano and Wang were both caught up in a double play to bring yet another inning to a quick close.
Schroeder responded with two 1-2-3 innings of his own, and BC entered the top of the eighth clinging to its 1–0 lead from the first inning.
After a first-pitch strike, relief pitcher Zach Fruit followed with eight straight balls to put runners on first and second with no outs. Burns stepped up to the plate and hit into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners with one out. Next up was Roche, who bunted directly into the pitcher, but a poor throw from Fruit allowed Daniel Baruch to dive across home plate to make it 2–0 BC with runners on first and second.
Wang then stepped up and hit a chopper up the middle which scored Burns while Roche rounded second without hesitation to beat the force out. Roche sprinted around third, ultimately avoiding the tag at home to make it 4–0 BC.
Troy was not going down without a fight, however, and with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning the Trojans loaded the bases. But with another 4-6-3 double play, the Eagles and Schroeder escaped another inning without letting up a run.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Troy avoided the shutout—what would have been its first of the year—with a solo home run to left field, but that was the only run they could muster as BC advanced to the Regional Final against Alabama.