BC Salvages Game Three Of Miami Series

Boston College baseball won game three of their series with Miami on Sunday. The win prevented a sweep and added a much needed quality win to the record. The Eagles are now in the final stretch of the season, fighting for both a spot in the ACC Tournament and a spot in the NCAA's.

Last week, BC salvaged game three of a 3-game set at Duke with a dramatic 7-6, 11-inning win. Head coach Mik Aoki was not shy in speaking of the importance of that game, calling it one of the Eagles' most important wins of the season. It kept BC at .500 in the ACC, and preserved their NCAA hopes.

This week, facing a similar situation against the University of Miami, the Eagles came up big again, scoring a critical 13-3 win over the Hurricanes in front of a chilly but enthusiastic crowd of 872 at Shea Field.

The win improves BC's record to 29-19 (12-13 ACC). The #13 Hurricanes are now 31-16 (15-12 ACC). The Eagles still cling to the 8th and final ACC tournament spot, two full games clear of Virginia Tech.

The Eagles came into the game a solid 37th in the RPI rankings, but losing 5-of-6 and falling three games below .500 in conference play would have put the Eagles' NCAA hopes in jeopardy – particularly with BC's final series coming against ACC Coastal-leading North Carolina.

After being stymied on Friday and Saturday, the Eagles hammered the Hurricanes early and often, jumping out to a 7-0 lead after four innings of play.

That was more than enough run support for starting pitcher Pat Dean (W, 5-3). The sophomore left-hander – promoted just three weeks ago from his spot as a mid-week starter – posted seven shutout innings, scattering four hits and striking out seven Miami batters.

Mike Belfiore trudged his way through the final two innings to close it out, giving up three unearned runs on five hits.

BC touched up Miami starter Iden Nazario (L, 5-3) for four runs in the second inning and never looked back. Jason Santana fared no better for Miami, giving up four more runs in 2.1 innings of work.

After Miami scored three off of Belfiore in the top of the 8th, BC responded with a resounding 5-run outburst in the bottom of the 8th to lock down the win. Belfiore helped his own cause with a 2-RBI double, driving home Tony Sanchez and Matt Hamlet. Barry Butera followed him with another 2-run double, plating Belfiore and Mickey Wiswall. John Spatola finished off the scoring with a single to right, bringing home Butera.

Despite his precarious 8th inning on the hill, Belfiore's day was a good one, as he went 2-for-5 with three runs batted in on the afternoon. Butera had a great afternoon at the plate as well, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two runs batted in.

10 different Eagles registered base hits, including all nine starters, as part of a 14-hit attack.

The win will likely boost BC in the RPI, as Miami came into the game ranked #4. Even in defeat, BC moved up in the RPI on Friday and Saturday.

Boydsworld.com, a leading college baseball statistics website, projects that BC must now go just 1-5 in the final six games to finish in the top 45 in RPI, considered a magic number for an at-large bid. This is optimistic, obviously. Most observers think that a record in the 4-2 range will be enough to earn a bid, regardless of performance in the ACC tournament.

"I think they need to go 3-3," says Brian Foley, head editor of The College Baseball Blog. "Even if they lose the three to UNC, their RPI is going to get better no matter what. Just make sure they win the other three (two against LeMoyne and one against UConn) and they're in good shape."

Either way, the final two weeks present a great opportunity for the Eagles, who have not qualified for the NCAA tournament since 1967.

The situation looked bleak for BC after the first two games of the series. On Friday, BC was shut down by Miami starter Chris Hernandez, who gave up one run in seven innings of work en route to a 5-1 win. BC had a chance to narrow a 4-1 deficit in the bottom of the fourth inning, loading the bases with two outs for Mike Sudol, but Hernandez came up with the timely K to defuse BC's threat.

On Saturday night at Brockton's Campanelli Stadium, Miami hit five home runs in the fourth and fifth innings to outpace BC 7-5 and secure the series victory.

The Eagles have no mid-week games this week due to final exams. They wrap up their non-conference schedule with two games against LeMoyne this weekend and a game against UConn on Tuesday. Then they finish the season with a three game set against UNC – currently #1 in the RPI.

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