One year ago, the Boston College Eagles took on the Connecticut Huskies in a largely meaningless game in the season's final week. The game was a wild one, with BC winning 11-8 in come-from-behind fashion.
The story couldn't have been any different this year, as BC took on UConn with nothing less than their NCAA resume on the line. A win could have helped solidify BC's claim on a spot in the dance, but it was not to be, as the Eagles fell to the Huskies 3-2 in a pitcher's duel at Shea Field.
The loss capped a disappointing weekend, on the heels of a weekend split against unheralded LeMoyne College. The 1-2 weekend puts the Eagles (30-21) in a pressure-filled spot going into their final weekend series against UNC on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Mike Dennhardt took his first career loss (5-1), giving up three runs in 5+ innings against the Huskies. Nate Bayuk and Kevin Moran held down the fort during BC's comeback attempt, tossing four shutout innings of relief.
UConn scored two runs in the second inning to put Dennhardt on the ropes early. Mike Olt's RBI triple to right field got the scoring started. Matt Burnett doubled the UConn advantage with a base hit up the middle to plate Olt.
The Huskies chased Dennhardt in the sixth as Olt came through again, knocking an RBI base hit to left after Dennhardt walked the first two UConn batters.
BC's comeback bid began in the seventh inning against reliever Dan Mahoney. With one out, Barry Butera rocked a double. Then, Matt Hamlet brought him home with a double to right.
After Sudol walked, Mahoney threw a wild pitch, putting two runners in scoring position for Brad Zapenas. Zapenas hit a deep fly to right, plating Hamlet to bring BC within one.
Dusty Odenbach came in to relieve Mahoney and promptly got Rob Anston to ground out, ending the threat.
Odenbach wriggled his way out of a jam in the eighth. He struck out Andrew Lawrence to start the inning, but he was able to scamper to first on a dropped third strike. He reached second and third via two straight ground-outs before Odenbach intentionally walked Mike Belfiore. With a chance to plate the tying run, Butera struck out swinging, ending the rally.
BC had no luck against UConn closer David Erickson, who sent the Eagles down 1-2-3 in the home half of the ninth – striking out Hamlet and getting Mike Sudol and John Spatola to fly out.
Coming in to the game, BC's RPI was 35th – sure to take a fall after a loss to #86 UConn. But while BC's recent cool down (8-10 in their last 18) has fans sweating a bit going into the final weekend, they should take heart: in this morning's ESPN NCAA baseball bracketology, BC, listed as a #3 seed in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was not listed as one of the "last nine in" – and three games against UNC, no matter what the result, should improve BC's RPI.
Still, it will be important for BC to at least take one game against the Tar Heels, in order to lock down an ACC tournament spot and send a message to the committee that they are ready for tournament baseball.
BC's magic number over both Virginia Tech and North Carolina State is one – so one loss by each team would clinch the Eagles' place in the ACC tournament in Durham, N.C.
Wild series vs. LeMoyne
Ninth inning magic on Sunday kept BC from coming up empty-handed on the weekend. After a stinging 5-4 loss on Saturday, in which LeMoyne scored an unearned run in the ninth to win it, the Eagles trailed 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday.
That's when the Eagles conjured up their own Mother's Day Miracle.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Tony Sanchez poked a base hit to score Zapenas and Sudol to tie the game. That chased LeMoyne reliever Brandon Otto, who left in favor of Tom McDermott. But McDermott would have no more luck against the potent BC offense.
The first man he faced, Wiswall, walked to re-load the bases; then, Mike Belfiore sent the Shea Field crowd home happy with a walk-off grand slam to left, giving BC a dramatic 10-6 win.
Sophomore Kevin Moran got the win (4-2) with two shutout innings in relief of Pat Dean, who give up six unearned runs in seven innings.
BC finishes the season with three games against North Carolina on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at Shea Field. The first two games will start at 1:30 PM., with the final game played at 1:00 PM.
Then, should the Eagles clinch a berth in the ACC tournament, they will begin play on Wednesday, May 20, at the Durham Bulls' stadium in North Carolina.
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