Eagles Strong Pitching Helps to Clinch Series Against Duke

BC defeats a ranked team, and wins two out of three in Durham
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The Boston College Eagles got their second straight series win this weekend, clinching the rubber match on Sunday with a 5-2 win over the #11/#25 Duke Blue Devils. 

The Eagles jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second with a 1 out RBI by Peter Burns driving home Luke Gold after he smacked a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. The run was crucial for the Eagles as, after a leadoff single, Jack Cunningham surrendered the first out of the inning trying to score on Gold’s double. The relay was executed beautifully by Duke getting Cunningham at home for the first out, but it should not dampen his day, which saw a career high four hits. 

In the bottom half of the inning, Duke was able to get to Eagles starter Emmett Sheehan producing a couple of doubles with Blue Devil first baseman Chad Knight picking up an RBI. A failed double steal ended the Duke threat after a walk put runners on first and second. Both teams were scoreless in the third, but BC added 2 runs after a Cunningham double and Luke Gold homerun over the left field wall. Gold’s performance was part of a torrid start to the season where he owns the most RBIs for the Eagles with 9 and is slugging an impressive .720. 

Duke responded once more to the Eagles' runs with a homerun of their own by left fielder RJ Schreck who had a two-hit day. Schreck gave the Eagles’ pitching staff troubles all weekend long including 3 RBIs in game two of the series and 4 RBIs in the opener. Both teams went scoreless in the 5th with the Eagles leaving Dante Baldelli stranded after a lead-off double. 

The game stayed 3-2 through six frames with BC starter Emmett Sheehan finishing his day retiring six of the last seven Duke batters he faced. Sheehan now has pitched 12 frames for the Eagles surrendering only 2 earned runs and picking up a pair of wins. Sheehan’s performance will be something to keep an eye on going forward as he has made massive strides already this season following a 8.16 ERA in last year’s shortened campaign. 

The Eagles added two more runs in the top half of the seventh with a 1 out homerun off the bat of Sal Frelick. The two-run shot was Frelick’s first of the season as he has lived up to his projected first round billing coming into the season. Frelick tallied six hits in the series including a three-hit game in the series opening win. The Eagles held the Blue Devils at bay the rest of the way, but not without some drama. Graduate right hander Alex Stiegler relieved Sheehan in the seventh and got Duke center fielder Joey Loperfido to go down looking to end the threat with two guys on. A leadoff double by Cunningham chased Duke reliever Matt Dockman out of the game but Blue Devil freshman Nick Conte got out of it with no harm done. 

Duke again threatened Stiegler in the eighth inning with two straight hits, but three straight outs ended the frame with runners left on first and third. The Eagles went quietly in the top half of the ninth going down in order. Stiegler stayed in to finish the job in the bottom half and got the job done despite a leadoff double by Blue Devil third baseman Erikson Nichols getting pinch hitter Chris Dutra to strike out for the first out and getting another K to conclude the contest from Joey Loperfido once more going down looking.

The win helped improve the Eagles to 5-1 on the season and with a strong weekend performance, Mike Gambino’s squad made a case to be ranked next week. Boston College will hit the road again for a weekend series with conference foe Wake Forest who will come into the series following a set with Notre Dame in which they dropped the final two games. With a win in the rubber match, BC claimed its first series win against a ranked opponent since 2019. 

Photo courtesy of BCeagles.com