After three games in two days and a flight from North Carolina, you could forgive the Boston College baseball team for being a little tired. But the Eagles shook off the fatigue and picked up their fourth win in five games, downing the Harvard Crimson 9-5 in the Beanpot consolation game at Fenway Park.
Mike Belfiore put the Eagles up for good in the bottom of the fifth inning, lacing a double off of the famed Green Monster to drive home Tony Sanchez and Mickey Wiswall and break a 3-3 tie. Garret Smith cracked another hit off the Monster to plate Belfiore to make it 6-3, capping off a three run inning that gave BC all they would need to get the win.
"I actually [hit one off the Monster] my freshman year, too," said Belfiore. "But this one was nicer because we actually got the win."
In that game two years ago, the Eagles lost to the Northeastern Huskies in the final. The Beanpot has not been kind to BC the past three years. BC dropped the final game two years in a row – to NU in 2007, and UMass in 2008 – before being bounced by the Minutemen in the first round this year.
"I thought our team did a pretty good job today of staying focused and getting the win despite probably being a little tired," said coach Mik Aoki after the game. "We looked a little sloppy out there a few times, and ran ourselves out of a couple of innings, but I thought it was pretty good overall."
Freshman hurler Mike Dennhardt, who made his first midweek start after struggling against ACC foes, bounced back with a strong effort to score his third win of the season (3-0). Dennhardt allowed four runs on three hits in 5.1 innings, while striking out five.
"You'll get that with freshmen sometimes, where they're up and down," said Aoki. "But I thought it was good for [Dennhardt] today to get the win. He's a talented kid."
Dennhardt was particularly impressive in the early innings, giving up no hits through the first three, which bodes well for a possible bullpen outing against Virginia. The Eagles have customarily used their midweek starter Pat Dean as a reliever in ACC games. With Dean moved into the number 3 spot in the starting rotation, Dennhardt will be called upon to pitch important relief innings.
"We'd like to get him in some over the weekend," said Aoki. "Obviously you always need all the arms to get through a weekend series."
Dave Laufer relieved Dennhardt in the sixth and allowed an inherited runner to score on a sacrifice fly by Harry Douglas, but did not allow a hit in 1.2 innings of work.
BC made it comfortable with another three-run inning in the sixth. Robbie Anston led it off by rocking a stand-up triple to deep centerfield before scoring on a wild pitch by Ryan Watson. Belfiore and Smith then picked up RBIs to increase BC's lead to 9-4.
Harvard picked up a run off of reliever Matt Brazis in the ninth to make the final score 9-5. Brazis pitched the final two innings, giving up one run on two hits.
It was another big day for the BC offense, pouring in nine more runs on 13 hits after scoring 40 runs in their last four games.
"We've got a lot of confidence right now, and we're picking each other up on offense," said Belfiore. "We've got a really strong lineup… and we're all really focused this year on getting the job done. We know we've got a good team that can do some damage and we're all working hard."
"They've been sticking to the game plan, and that's helped the offense," said Aoki. "We don't try to do too much with the baseball… when guys stray from that, we have trouble, but when they're sticking to it, they hit the ball really well."
With the victory, the Eagles are now 23-12 – approaching the magic 30 win number , which is generally what it takes for an ACC team to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
"We know these [midweek] games are important," said Belfiore. "No matter who we play, we're focused on getting the win."
Next up for BC is a game at UMass on Wednesday. The Minutemen are coming off an appearance in the Beanpot championship game.
It will be a "staff day" for the bullpen, similar to last Wednesday against Rhode Island when six relievers combined to shut out the Rams en route to a 10-0 victory.
"It's something that's worked well for us in a few games recently, and lets us get guys some work," said Aoki.
The game was played in front of 3,100 fans, with many small children and parents in attendance taking advantage of $5 general admission tickets.
"It's great for college baseball in the Northeast," said Aoki. "The Red Sox did a great job marketing the event. The crowd this year was probably better than the last three years combined."
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