Jackets baseball swept by BC in three games

Freshman infielder and shortstop Brett Denby took to the mound as a reliever in the final game of the series the Jackets played. // Photo courtesy of Knox Lingenfelter Student Publications

After a hard-fought series, the Jackets fell to the Boston College Eagles on home turf. It has been a tumultuous season for the Jackets with a 16-10 overall record and a 3-6 conference record, respectively. Big wins against North Carolina State University (NC State), Cornell and Georgia State are interspersed with heartbreaking losses to the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Georgia. To kick off the ACC matchup, game one took place on Thursday, March 28 with the Eagles defeating the Jackets 10-3. The Eagles hit the ground running to put up the first points but the Jackets came back blazing on their tails. 

It was a slow start for the Jackets despite the sunny and warm conditions, with the first points of the game put up in the fifth inning. The Eagles put up two runs in four of the first five innings to start the game, giving them an early advantage. The Jackets came alive in the fifth inning, with sophomore outfielder Parker Brosius reeling in the first points of the evening and senior first baseman Cam Jones sealing the deal for freshman outfielder Drew Burress with an RBI single. Jones and senior outfielder Trey Yunger finished the evening with two hits each. 

Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher (RHP) Carson Ballard allowed three runs in the first and early second inning, with junior RHP Mason Patel allowing four runs. Senior RHP Dawson Brown, freshman RHP Michal Kovala, junior LHP Camron Hill, juniorRHP Terry Busse, and sophomore RHP Demitri Diamant regained control of the mound, only letting one run during their combined time in the game. 

The series continued in a Friday evening night game that the Jackets lost in the clutch by a score of 5-3. Tech and Boston College took a 2-2 tie into extra innings, but the Eagles mounted a final surge with two late runs in the 10th inning. This time, Tech took early control of the game  with two runs in the second inning. Freshman catcher Vahn Lackey and Yunger put up the first two points before Brosius scored the third and final run. RHP Aeden Finateri went five innings, allowing one home run and inducing six strikeouts. 

Finateri has emerged as one of Tech’s most reliable arms and used his command to great effect against a hapless Eagles lineup. Senior RHP Ben King picked up where Finateri finished, allowing only two runners on base. Unfortunately, the bullpen could not cover the game in extra innings as the Eagles offense figured out Tech’s pitching in the clutch. 

With a series loss already in the cards, the Jackets could not avoid the sweep in the series finale on Saturday, March 30. The final score of 16-7 encapsulated the story of this series — moments of brilliance punctuated by ultimately falling short due to errors. 

The Eagles scored five runs in the first inning, giving them an early advantage to begin the game. As a result, the bullpen needed to cover eight innings of work after starting pitcher Logan McGuire allowed four runs in the inning. Nine of the Jackets had hits in this game. At the plate, junior shortstop Payton Green led the Jackets with a double and a triple as Burress and Brosius brought  hits of their own to a largely successful performance from the offense. 

Late in the game, true freshman infielder Ryan Jaros hit his first career home run — a two-run shot — before sophomore outfielder Jett Lovett launched two doubles in the eighth inning. Ultimately, the offense could not make up for an overtaxed bullpen that was already reeling from the previous day’s extra-innings game. Fortunately, the Jackets also hosted the Presbyterian College Blue Hose on Tuesday, April 2, with a 9-8 win in 10 innings to break their losing streak. After Presbyterian took a 5-1 lead, it looked like another rough outing for Tech’s pitching staff. Fortunately, Green launched a runs-batted-in (RBI) double before true freshman infielder Carson Kerce sent a RBI-double of his own two innings later to make it a 7-3 game. Although Presbyterian scored another run, their pitchers struggled with command, and the Jackets capitalized. Brosius, Jaros and Yunger all had quality at-bats and recorded hits that cut the lead to one before Burress drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game in the ninth. On the mound, Brown mowed through the Blue Hose’s hitters to the tune of five straight strikeouts, setting up Brosius for the game-winning bunt to drive the last run home and pull out the clutch victory.

The next ACC faceoff for the Jackets will be on the road against the Pittsburgh Panthers, with a three-game series starting on Friday, April 5 and continuing
through the weekend. 

Though the Jackets have faced some challenges with pitching, the offense has continued to produce this season. Burress, Jones, Green and Ellis all have more than 90 at-bats this season alone and the Jackets have the second-highest batting average in the ACC. 

The ACC playoffs begin May 21, with just under two months left in the regular season. With games against ACC rivals Virginia Tech, Virginia, Miami, Clemson, Duke and Florida State on the horizon, the Jackets are hoping to shake things up in the conference and prove to be a challenging opponent
across nine innings.