The Florida State Seminoles took care of the Boston College Eagles on Saturday afternoon, taking a 13-7 victory. But despite losing on Saturday and being swept in the series, Birdball knew that something more important surrounded Saturday’s game.
The two teams traveled to Fenway Park for the seventh annual ALS Awareness Game. Former BC outfielder Pete Frates, who served as team captain in 2007, was diagnosed with ALS in 2012.
A well-known figure around Boston College and in the greater baseball community, Frates has created a national movement raising awareness of ALS and funds for researching treatment for the disease. He started the ice bucket challenge, which raised national awareness of ALS.
Frates and his family were in attendance at Fenway on Saturday. He was introduced before the game, and received a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd of 5,433 - the largest in the game's history.
On the diamond, however, the Eagles didn’t fare so well.
BC held the lead after scoring five runs in the first two innings, but couldn’t get much going for the rest of the game. The Eagles struck first on a two-out, two-run single from Dante Baldelli in the first inning.
From the beginning, the game seemed bound to be a matchup charged with offense. The two teams were coming off of the previous night’s 11-inning affair that saw Florida State take the 13-12 victory, and there was no shortage of baserunners on Saturday afternoon. Pitchers from both sides combined to allow 19 walks.
The game remained close until the fifth, when Florida State broke it open with four runs. Eagles pitcher Dan Metzdorf was pulled after allowing two straight baserunners.
Looking back, Head Coach Mike Gambino realized that he should have made the move to the pen at the start of the inning.
“I should have gone to Joey Walsh at the start of the fifth,” said Coach Gambino. “It was a big part in the game.”
The Seminoles didn’t look back, adding three more runs in the sixth and then coasting to victory. Cobi Johnson powered the Seminoles’ offense, tallying three RBI. Despite allowing BC to take the lead early, Florida State’s pitching staff settled in after the second inning. Tyler Ahearn eventually earned the win.
There were some bright spots on the diamond for the Eagles. Freshman Chris Galland walked twice to extend his on-base streak to 13 games. Dante Baldelli and Jack Cunningham each drove in two runs.
All those in attendance at Fenway realized the deeper significance of the matchup. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Both coaches spoke about Pete Frates and ALS awareness following the game.
“For us to be invited to participate in this event is very meaningful to us,” said Florida State Coach Mike Martin. “We’re proud to be a part of this.”
Mike Gambino also stressed that raising support for Pete Frates’ mission is the goal of playing the game at Fenway. The fact that the seventh annual awareness game drew a larger crowd than ever before shows that the movement Frates has started is not slowing down.
BC dropped both of the other games in the series on home turf. On Friday, the Eagles were able to erase a seven-run deficit, but eventually fell, 13-12, in 11 innings. The Seminoles left Chestnut Hill with a sweep following their 6-1 victory on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles now sit at 13-26 on the season.
One day, Gambino hopes that the need to play an ALS Awareness game will be gone.
“That’s the mission,” said Gambino. “One day, we’ll play a game at Fenway Park… talking about when there once was this disease.”
Visit www.petefrates.com to learn more about ALS, Frates’ mission, and how to support the cause.
Birdball will hit the road on Tuesday, April 24 to play UMass Lowell, but return back home on Wednesday for a 4 PM start against Bryant.