Despite a strong performance from senior right-hander Brian Rapp over seven innings Sunday, the bullpen simply could not keep the Fighting Irish at bay over the next three outs.
When Rapp left the game, the Eagles held a slight lead at 4-3 following a tie-breaking sacrifice fly off the bat of Jake Alu back in the fifth inning. However, a messy combination of hit batters, walks, passed balls, bloop singles, and errors in the eight allowed the Irish to plate two runs and steal the series.
Sunday’s 5-4 defeat marked the second time in just three games that the Birds fell by a single run. Although BC outscored the Irish 14-10 over the weekend, the disappointing results mirrors a season where young talent has failed to translate into the win column.
With the victory, Notre Dame improves to 20-24 overall and 10-14 in the ACC, sitting just one spot above the Eagles in the Atlantic side of the ACC. On the other hand, BC has now dropped seven of their last ten games, pushing their cumulative record to 15-28 on the year. Birdball also sits in the cellar of the entire ACC conference at 6-18 this season.
In the series’s first game Friday at Frank Eck Stadium in South Bend, heartbreak once again permeated the Eagles’ dugout following the loss.
Heading into the bottom half of the seventh, BC held a run lead after catcher Gian Martellini launched his second career grand slam. The standout junior that broke out last season behind a .302 batting average and 58 hits has seen his offensive production drop this year, but the defense has not missed a beat. Martellini threw out his 14th runner caught stealing on Friday, placing him second in the ACC behind only ND’s David LaManna.
Yet, the Birdball pitching staff relinquished the lead in almost the exact same fashion as Sunday’s affair, eventually falling to the Irish 5-4 in ten innings. Extra innings have not treated the Eagles well this season, as Friday’s loss gave BC their sixth defeat in extras this year.
On Saturday, the Maroon and Gold bounced back with a 6-0 shutout victory. Lefty slinger Dan Metzdorf blanked the Irish over eight innings of two hit ball. This time, the BC bullpen rewarded the dominant starting effort with a quick ninth to tie the series at a game a piece.
On the offensive end, the Eagles’ were lead by freshman phenom Chris Galland. Galland recorded two hits and an RBI to help the Birds plate six runs, but his most impressive accomplishment came on the base paths. The young outfielder stole his 27th bag of the season, tying the all-time Birdball record.
The key 6-0 win left BC with a chance to take their first three game series since the Birds won two out of three against the Virginia Tech Hokies back in late March. Nevertheless, Sunday’s loss kept the season-long struggles in place.
The Eagles will look to rebound this Tuesday in Brighton against Holy Cross at 5:30 p.m.
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