Birdball Clinches a Spot in the ACC Tournament Semifinals
The BC baseball team won Pool A of the ACC Tournament in Durham, NC this week. After barely making the tournament sitting at the bottom as the 12th seed, they faced off against 8 seed Clemson and 1 seed Louisville. They got wins over both clinching a spot in the semifinals Saturday at 1, which will be their first appearance there since 2009.
On Tuesday, the Eagles took down Clemson 7-5 in 11 innings, their first win in the tournament since 2010, and Wednesday they beat Louisville 5-1.
Tuesday’s Clemson game brought a lot of action from two-thirds of BC’s freshman trio of Sal Frelick (RF), Cody Morissette (2B), and Mason Pelio (RHP).
With freshman phenom Sal Frelick out with a knee injury since the Duke series, the Eagles have managed to win 9 of 11 games with the help of junior OF Joe Suozzi. Frelick batted .367 this season and led the ACC in stolen bases. Once BC clinched the 12th seed in the tournament, it seemed that Frelick’s absence would be an issue, but with Suozzi filling his void in the right field, it has been no Frelick, no problem for the Eagles. Suozzi belted his 4th career HR early in the Clemson game Tuesday and scored the second run in the Louisville game Wednesday.
Cody Morissette has also proved to be a vital player for the Eagles. The freshman showed improvement from the regular season to the tournament with less fielding errors and 2 home runs, doubling his total HRs for the season. Morissette’s impact is shown at the plate with a .327 average in the tournament; he’s thriving when he has 2 strikes against him.
Freshman RHP Mason Pelio ended the regular season on a low note only pitching a combined 7 innings against Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. Off to a slow start with 40 pitches in the first two innings, Pelio pitched 6 of the 11 innings, with 1 ER and 3 strikeouts. Although Joey Walsh got the win for the Clemson game, Pelio’s strong fastball and growing confidence on the mound give Eagles fans a lot to look forward to in the coming seasons. Pelio has consistently been one of the top pitchers for the Eagles and has been vital to ACC wins both in the regular season and tournament.
In the 11th inning of the Clemson game, BC’s top hitter against ACC opponents, senior DH Gian Martellini singled to right. Freshman Lucas Stalman pinch ran for Martellini and secured a 6-5 lead for the Eagles off C Peter Burns’ grounder to first.
After four hours, BC finally clinched the win over Clemson with outstanding performances at the plate from Martellini, Baldelli, Galland, and Burns in the 11th.
Wednesday, senior LHP Dan Metzdorf threw his first complete game. He threw 120 pitches and yielded only 1 unearned run and 2 hits with 6 total strikeouts against the ACC’s top offense. Metzdorf’s performance was backed by incredible fielding behind him, especially from junior 1B Jack Cunningham. Cunningham was able to prevent the few batters who got hits from making it to first by being quick and using his range, something unusual for that position.
The 7th inning brought a lot of action at the plate for BC hitters furthering the lead by 2 runs. After an error by Louisville INF Justin Lavey, SS Brian Dempsey was able to advance to second, stealing the 22nd base of his career. With bases loaded and 2 outs, Martellini continued his hot hitting with a long single to right, plating two Eagles.
With strong offensive performances from Martellini, Morissette, Dempsey, and Suozzi in the first two games of the ACC Tournament and notable pitching from Pelio and Metzdorf, the Eagles are in a good position moving forward. Consistent fielding performances from 3B Jake Alu and CF Dante Baldelli were vital factors to the wins over Clemson and Louisville and must be maintained.
The Eagles were the underdogs in this tournament, clinching the 12th seed at the last minute, and only winning 12 of 30 ACC games, but this week proved that they’re worthy of their position in the semifinals.
BC got hot at the right time and needs to keep this momentum going into Saturday’s semifinal game where they will be facing the winner of Pool D, which includes Miami (FL), UNC, and UVA. Of these teams, this season the Eagles have only faced UNC where the Tar Heels swept them.
First pitch is at 1 on Saturday and the ACC Network broadcast will be available on WatchESPN.