Alexa Kirby / Gavel Media

Birdball Drops Two of Three to No. 1 NC State

The Boston College Eagles put together an impressive stretch of baseball these past couple weeks. In March, the Eagles put up five wins against ranked ACC opponents as well as a dominant victory against a strong SEC opponent in Kentucky.

However, heading into April, the Eagles could not continue that momentum against two opponents they should have beaten in UMass and Hartford. With an ACC series against the No. 1 ranked team in NC State (29-4, 12-3 ACC), the Eagles (15-17, 6-9 ACC) needed all the momentum they could get.

In a weekend three-game series in Chestnut Hill, BC Birdball put up a fight in each contest, but ultimately dropped the series against the top-ranked Wolfpack. The Eagles lost the first two games of the series, giving up a combined 22 runs, but recorded an impressive win on Sunday afternoon thanks to another shutdown performance from freshman Mason Pelio.

In the series opener on Friday, the Eagles battled neck-and-neck with the Wolfpack up until the ninth inning, overcoming multiple deficits. They wound up falling 6-5.

Dan Metzdorf got the nod for the Eagles, giving up three runs on six hits in 6.1 solid innings, his third straight outing going at least six innings. He has also recorded 18 strikeouts in that span. 

The Wolfpack got on the board in the second inning first thanks to an RBI single from David Vazquez through the infield, plating Brad Debo to put NC State up one. 

After loading the bases in the third inning, the Wolfpack only managed one run off an RBI groundout from Evan Edwards. In what could’ve been a game-deciding inning, Metzdorf did all he could to limit the Wolfpack’s offensive attack and hold them to just one run. 

After adding another off a Will Wilson double, NC State held a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning heading into the home stretch of the game. 

However, the Eagles would rally in the bottom half of the seventh and eighth to tie the game up at three a piece, thanks to timely situational hitting from Peter Burns, Brian Dempsey, and Ramon Jimenez. The score was knotted up at three going into the ninth.

Still, the NC State offense proved to be too much for the Eagles. Off reliever Joe Mancini, the top-ranked Wolfpack plated three more runs off a double, single, and groundout. The Eagles fought back in the bottom half with runs off a couple fielder’s choices, but couldn’t continue the inning after an unfortunate double play ended the game.

It was a career day from Jimenez, who hit his first triple of the season after starting his first game at first base, recording two hits and one RBI on the afternoon. 

The Eagles fared much worse against NC State on Saturday, losing by a whopping score of 16-4. The game also extended their losing streak to four games, dating back to last Tuesday’s loss against UMass. 

After getting their first lead of the game in the second inning, going up 2-1 on a Jack Cunningham triple and Gian Martellini single, it was all NC State afterwards. 

The Wolfpack put together a couple of fantastic innings, highlighted by a five-run third inning with a couple of RBI singles as well as a six-run sixth inning off five hits and a BC error off the passed ball. After the sixth inning, they lead 14-2. 

The Wolfpack’s Evan Edwards collected three base hits during this stretch, including a home-run and four RBIs on the afternoon. Edwards extended his on-base streak to 32 games and has continued an impressive hit streak to 13 games. 

Not much was going right for the BC bullpen. The Eagles used six relievers out of the pen, who gave up a combined twelve earned runs and nine walks in seven innings of work. The Eagles only recorded six strikeouts on the day from four pitchers. Additionally, the relievers were overworked, but one threw at least 25 pitches in at least one of their innings.

The Eagles would tack on two more in the sixth and eighth inning, highlighted by Jack Cunningham’s team-leading fifth home-run of the year and 10th multi-hit game this season. He also recorded the first triple of his career in the bottom half of the first.

It was too little too late for the Eagles against an insurmountable comeback, ultimately losing by the twelve-run margin. It was the second most runs they’ve given up in a game, behind a 22-run drubbing against Wake Forest on March 16.

However, the Eagles responded with a fantastic performance on Sunday, taking the series finale and snapping their four-game losing streak with a 3-1 win on a beautiful day in Chestnut Hill. 

Freshman starter Mason Pelio led the way on the mound, going 7.2 strong innings, striking out seven, and only allowing two hits with two walks.

Pelio would be relieved in the eighth by RHP Thomas Lane, who came through and shut the door in the top half of the eighth inning. 

The game was knotted at one after a BC’s Chris Galland tagged up on a Jack Cunningham foul out and NC State’s Patrick Bailey homered to straight-away center field. It would stay in a lock until the eighth inning, when the Eagles finally broke through.

After a Dempsey sacrifice bunt moved Galland to second base, Jake Alu came through with a clutch single to send Galland racing home and give BC the 2-1 advantage.

Cunningham then advanced Alu to third with a single of his own and Sal Frelick brought him back home with a sacrifice fly to center field, giving BC a 3-1 lead. 

Lane shut down the door in the ninth, escaping with the win after putting the first two runners on and getting the next three hitters out. Against the best team in the NCAA, the Eagles pulled off a 3-1 victory.

It was Pelio’s seventh start of the season and, despite coming away with a no-decision, he has proven his value to the squad. In the last six games he has started, the Eagles have gone 5-1; Pelio himself has gone 40 innings in that stretch, recording 36 strikeouts and owning a 1.64 ERA.

With the victory on Sunday, the Eagles have a little bit of momentum heading into an easier slate of games against non-conference opponents Rhode Island and Quinnipiac, before going into a home series next weekend against Georgia Tech.

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