BROCKTON, Mass. – Boston College coach Mik Aoki constantly reminds his team to never underestimate their local, mid-week opponents. The scrappy UMass Minutemen showed the Eagles why on Tuesday night, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to top BC 5-2 in the baseball Beanpot semifinals at Campanelli Stadium.
The Minutemen advance to Monday's championship game at Fenway Park with a chance to defend their Beanpot Title. They will face Northeastern, who defeated Harvard 16-5 earlier in the day. BC will meet the Crimson in the consolation game.
UMass overcame a strong pitching performance by BC sophomore Pat Dean (4-2), who was the hard-luck loser despite yielding just 3 runs on 8 hits while striking out 9 batters in 7+ innings of work.
"Give UMass credit. Pat probably made 3 or 4 mistakes all night, and they made him pay for them. They did a good job," said Aoki.
Dean hit a wall when he came out to pitch the eighth inning with the score tied 2-2. Adam Tempesta started the inning by rocking a Dean offering to the edge of the warning track in left field for a double. Brian Baudinet brought him home, dropping an RBI single into shallow center to give the Minutemen their first lead of the game.
"His pitch count was getting up there a little bit, but I think he pitched really well. Unfortunately, they pitched a little better than we did," Aoki said. "They really didn't give us many opportunities."
The winning RBI was part of a monster game for Baudinet, who went 3-for-4 with two triples, a double, and a walk.
"[Baudinet] has played well against us the past couple of years. He's one of their leaders… they have a good little 2-3-4 combination [in the middle of the lineup]. And [Baudinet] is great defensively, too… he had a really good game in center field," Aoki said.
Kevin Moran came in out of the bullpen to put out the fire for BC, but the Minutemen cracked him for two more in the ninth to expand the lead to 5-2.
The game started well for the Eagles, as Dean cruised through the first three innings, giving up one hit and striking out five.
In the home half of the second, BC's potent offense struck quickly. Mickey Wiswall led off the inning with a wind-aided home run that floated over the fence in right centerfield, clearing the Rocky Marciano retired number.
Mike Belfiore followed with a no-doubter, an absolute rocket to left field that ricocheted off the electronic scoreboard, giving BC a 2-0 lead.
UMass responded in the fourth inning with a blast of their own. Baudinet started the rally with a triple to left. Then, Jim MacDonald one-upped Belfiore's bomb with a shot over everything in left, instantly tying the game at 2.
"It was just a fastball that I left out over the plate," said Dean. "They really took advantage of my mistakes tonight."
After the Minutemen scored a run in the 8th to take the lead, BC showed promise in the bottom half, but their efforts ended in frustration.
Robbie Anston led off the inning with a slow grounder to short that Matt Gedman scooped and hummed to first just in time to get the out. Brad Zapenas then laced a single to center, setting up a sacrifice situation for Matt Hamlet.
Hamlet got the bunt down and appeared to successfully move Zapenas into scoring position, but the umpires ruled that the ball struck Hamlet while he was out of the batter's box – an automatic out. Zapenas was forced back to first base, and Wiswall was retired on a routine fly to left field to end the threat.
Charlie Benson pitched 5.1 dominant innings in relief to get the win for UMass, completely shutting down the Eagles after coming in for starter Jared Freni in the 4th inning. Benson allowed three hits – all singles – and struck out two.
"[Benson] is one of your touch-and-feel lefties, mixing it up, throwing in the curveball, mixing in the changeup, throwing an occasional fastball here and there. He kept us off balance."
Of greater concern for the Eagles than the loss is the health of catcher Tony Sanchez, who left the game in the 6th inning after jamming his wrist on a stolen base attempt. Sanchez, who was just named ACC player of the week, is BC's second leading hitter. He also leads all BC players with 12 home runs.
"He banged up his wrist a little bit," said Aoki. "We'll have to meet with the trainers to see how he's feeling tomorrow. We'll give him the day off if we need to, and hopefully we'll have him for the weekend."
The Eagles have a quick turnaround, as they host the University of Rhode Island tomorrow in their final midweek game before flying to Winston-Salem for a three game weekend set at Wake Forest.
"One of our strengths this year has been bouncing back from tough losses, and just moving on and being ready for the next game," said Dean.
UMass Tops Eagles in Beanpot
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