Mitch Bigras laced a single into right field with Donovan Casey on second and Jake Palomaki on first. Casey rounded third and slid hard into home, the throw came in late, and Casey jumped to his feet and let out a yell. It was just one run in the first inning, but emotions were high. Boston College continued to ride on that energy as the Eagles went on to win the Sixth Annual ALS Awareness game 8-3 over NC State.
“Obviously, it’s an emotional day and I was proud of these boys,” said Gambino after the win. “There’s two ways that can go. You can let your emotion overtake you and become too emotional, or you can play with emotion and play good baseball. Today we played with emotion and played good baseball.”
The day began with multiple meaningful ceremonies. This was the sixth year BC has played the game honoring former BC baseball player Pete Frates, but the first time the event had been held at Fenway Park. However, this year’s game took on more significance as the NC State community has also been affected by the terrible disease. Chris Combs, former Second-Team All-ACC player for the Wolfpack, was diagnosed with ALS in May 2016. Combs was honored before the game and threw out the first pitch.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Gambino. “I would much rather be playing NC State and having Chris Combs just coming up and having fun with his family. But we know from what Pete did and what Chris has now taken on that this is going to lead to when there are no more ALS games.”
Once the game began, it was all Eagles. Sophomore Jacob Stevens made a fantastic start going six and two-thirds innings allowing just three runs and striking out four. Stevens’ efficiency was key in the Eagles’ success. Of his 90 pitches, 63 were strikes. Stevens thought that maybe most important to his success was his early hot start.
“It was huge. The first inning especially,” said Stevens. “The defense kept making plays which definitely aided the cause.”
Offensively the Eagles scratched out their eight runs on 16 hits. As a team without a ton of power, BC has to do that to score. Michael Strem, Jake Alu, Jacob Yish, and Brian Dempsey all had multi-hit games.
Yish, a freshman, has an extra connection to Frates as both went to St John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass. “It was my freshman year [of high school] before a football game I got the chance to meet Pete and he gave one of the best pregame speeches I’ve ever heard,” said Yish.
Two of Alu’s three hits went for extra bases, but the most surprising performance of the day came from Dempsey. The freshman infielder entered yesterday's game hitting just .217, and then served as the second leadoff hitter in Gambino’s lineup as he beat out three hits.
John Witkowski and Donovan Casey entered in relief for Stevens, not allowing a run despite a couple jams throughout their seven outs.
UP NEXT: Boston College will play a doubleheader against NC State starting at 10:30 on Sunday, looking to win an ACC series after taking game one.