BC Baseball Ready For Miami

Boston College baseball is coming into the home stretch of the regular season. They have already surpassed last year's win total and are on the cusp of making the ACC Tournament. This weekend they face #13 Miami in a crucial series for both programs.

On Tuesday afternoon, the offense picked up the bullpen, when Harry Darling's go-ahead, RBI single in the bottom of the 8th broke a 10-10 tie en route to a 13-10 Boston College win over plucky Quinnipiac. The Eagles had blown a 9-3 lead in the game.

The very next day against Dartmouth, the opposite happened. The Eagles' vaunted offense did not put up their normal output, as they were limited to three runs – but freshman hurler Mike Dennhardt responded with his best outing of the season, tossing eight shutout innings as BC beat the Big Green 3-0 to improve to 28-17 on the season.

During the midweek games, BC surpassed last season's win total (26), showed the balance of their team, and perhaps most importantly, picked up some steam heading into a crucial 3-game ACC showdown with national powerhouse Miami.

"Our kids have been playing well, and it's nice to see that when the offense isn't getting what we're accustomed to, our staff can bail us out a little bit," said BC head coach Mik Aoki. "And on a couple of occasions this year, our offense has been able to bail out our pitching staff. For this midweek in particular going into a series against a very good team in Miami, it's nice to feel some momentum."

It's hard to overstate the importance of this series for the emerging BC program. The #13 Hurricanes are presently in a "rebuilding year" after losing such stars as Yonder Alonso and Jemile Weeks. But like USC football, Duke basketball, and BC hockey, "rebuilding" for Miami baseball usually still means competing at a national level.

The Hurricanes are 29-15 (13-11 ACC), with an impressive slate of out of conference games. They sit sixth in the overall ACC standings, while the Eagles lie in 8th – right on the ACC tournament bubble.

"They're obviously a really good team, with as rich a tradition that there is in all of college baseball," said Aoki. "Thankfully they don't have that unbelievable team they had last year… but it's nice when you can have a ‘rebuilding' year and still be as good as those guys are. They are a team that's capable of doing damage nationally, every year."

The series kicks off on Friday afternoon at 1:30 at Shea Field when BC's J.B. MacDonald (4-5, 3.95 ERA) squares off against Miami lefty Chris Hernandez (5-3, 5.07 ERA). The venue shifts to Brockton's Campanelli Stadium on Saturday night at 6 Pm, when John Leonard (1-2, 7.25 ERA) will face righty David Gutierrez (2-5, 4.62 ERA). The finale returns to Shea on Sunday at noon where Pat Deal (4-3, 3.82 ERA) will take on Iden Nazario (5-2, 6.00 ERA).

"I feel like with them in a bit of a rebuilding year, and us making the progress we have made this season, we have a good chance to go into this series and get some wins," said Aoki.

Getting ‘some' wins – and discussing the possibility of winning the series - indicates how ambitious this year's Eagles are. BC is 0-5 all-time against Miami.

"I feel like we're more prepared this year. We're in a better position to take them on," said Aoki.

"At the end of the series, I want to be able to say that we pitched it well and defended it well. That we played three, clean games. That'd be the big one," said Aoki. "Given what I think we've proven that we can do offensively, getting mistake-free defense and solid pitching gives us a really good chance to win."

Midweek highlights

-Dennhardt's effort against Dartmouth was a boost to the freshman's confidence after a few rough outings had him taken out of the weekend rotation. The talented righty is considered one of BC's best young pitchers.

"I want Dennhardt to get some innings. It's important for his development," said Aoki, explaining why they started him on Wednesday.

"He's been working really hard to clean up a few things and get a little bit more consistent in terms of his delivery," he continued. "He was in the strike zone yesterday with his fastball and his curveball. He didn't use the changeup much. He gets into trouble when he walks people. He avoided that. He forced contact and was able to get some outs. It shows what he can do when he's in the strike zone. It's nice to see, because you always want to see a kid rewarded for hard work."

-Sophomore Matt Hamlet had a career day against Quinnipiac, going 5-for-5.

"He has been really good all week, starting with the game against Duke on Sunday, when he got a hit and came around to score the go-ahead run. He had one seeing-eye ground ball in the win against Quinnipiac, but he went 5-for-5 and every other one was right on the button."

-Aoki was also thrilled that senior captain Harry Darling was able to come up with the game winning hit against Quinnipiac. Darling is highly respected in the Eagles' clubhouse, and his success on Tuesday boosted team morale.

"It was great to see Harry get a big hit like that. We're not as good a team as we are without our leaders, Harry Darling and JB MacDonald," said Aoki. "Without them ever contributing a single thing on the baseball field, they make us a better team. Those two guys are just great leaders. They have the unquestioned respect of every kid In our clubhouse. There's no doubt in my mind that we aren't where we are right now without Harry so it was gratifying to see him get the hit."

[DECK]Boston College baseball is coming into the home stretch of the regular season. They have already surpassed last year's win total and are on the cusp of making the ACC Tournament. This weekend they face #13 Miami in a crucial series for both programs.

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