Boston College Eagles vs. Massachusetts Minutemen
First Pitch: 3 PM
When people speak of the Beanpot, they often talk about the time-honored hockey tradition. Four schools - Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, and Harvard - have an annual meeting of the clans to determine Boston bragging rights on the ice. The trophy dates back to the ancient days of college hockey, with families identifying at time more with the trophy than they did with national championships in their households.
Like hockey, four baseball teams meet annually for the right to compete for a Beanpot. The baseball Beanpot will never be mistaken for the hockey trophy; it dates back only to 1990 and since Boston University doesn't sponsor baseball, the tournament includes UMass instead of the Terriers.
But the trophy still means something to the teams involved. For Boston College, winning the Beanpot used to be an annual expectation. In 25 Beanpot tournaments, Boston College has 11 championships, winning last year's title at Fenway Park with a 2-0 victory over the Minutemen.
Last year's championship, however, broke a three-year drought in which BC hadn't won the trophy. It improved them to 33-16-1 in the tournament, but it was the first trophy for the players who were in the program to that point. Where the last few seasons hadn't been find to the BC baseball program, turning the corner included a stamp of putting a trophy in their case.
That's why this is important. The Beanpot is a chance to stamp BC, once again, ahead of Northeastern, Harvard, and UMass on the local radar. It's a chance to reclaim the Bay State for itself in a way nobody else can. For all of the knocks, the Beanpot is still special, and it means something to all parties involved.
Record: 7-13 (2-4 Atlantic-10)
Last Time Out: After a week-long layoff following the loss to Boston College, UMass returned to the field last weekend for a three-game series at St. Bonaventure. They lost two of three, dropping the second and third games after winning the first. They played the first two games of the series as a Friday doubleheader before playing on Sunday with a day in between.
UMass rebounded yesterday with a win in 10 innings, 6-5, over Central Connecticut at home.
Around The Horn
The middle of the lineup did some damage against Boston College when they met a couple of weeks ago. Dylan Morris and John Jennings both went yard for the Minutemen, ant both tallied two hits. But UMass as a team only mustered eight hits against the Eagles, scattering them throughout the middle and later innings. They were able to score three runs against BC pitching in the first three innings, but they wound up scoring one in the fifth and one in the seventh as the game got away from them.
UMass has to try and turn this into a low-scoring game. They're perfectly capable of scoring four or five runs, but they can't get into a slugfest with BC. Like the Eagles, their hitters need to pick their spots and do more with men on base. Last week against BC, they left seven men on base. Vinny Scifo, who hit in the leadoff spot, left a small village on the paths by stranding four as part of an 0-5 day.
This is a lineup that can cause some fits for BC pitching if they're not careful. At the same time, this is a lineup capable of being shut down.
On The Bump
Since this is the second midweek game for both teams, we're likely to see them go into the depth of their pitching staff. Boston College might have the advantage, having used the deeper guys like Jack Nelson for innings against Harvard, thereby saving guys like Thomas Lane for the Beanpot game.
In that regard, opponents really wrack around the Minutemen pitchers. UMass is currently at -27 in run differential with opponents batting .290 against their pitchers. Their team ERA is 4.85.
There isn't a whole lot else to break down about the Minutemen that we haven't already said.
Temperatures should be around 50 degrees at first pitch, which means it'll get cold sometime around the fourth or fifth inning as temperatures drop into the 40s. According to the forecast, though, it shouldn't drop too bad, so we should worry more about the wind kicking up.
As for the weather itself, bright sunny skies are in the forecast, so no rain like what hit Boston on Tuesday.
After two postponements, this game was moved from Earl Lorden Field in Amherst to Shea Field in Chestnut Hill. That means the Beanpot first round game, which was supposed to be on the road, will now have home field advantage for BC.
Music to play when you realize you didn't go to Amherst
The Standells - Dirty Water.
Sorry, UMass, but Amherst is not Eastern Massachusetts. The Beanpot reflects Boston, not Western Mass. The 413 area code can be given to New York or Connecticut for all we care. But this is our city, the Beanpot reflects our town, and this isn't your title to win.
You might tout yourself as the flagship campus of the Massachusetts public higher education system, but Boston is the flagship of the state. And Boston College is Boston's college baseball team (well unless Northeastern or Harvard win it all. Then I got nothing).
That said, you do have Antonio's pizza so we tip our cap to you anyways.
Random Fact(s) of the Week
UMass won the first Beanpot they ever competed in, though they didn't compete in the tournament until 1996. Boston University dropped baseball after the 1995 season (never finishing better than fourth in the Beanpot with the exception of a second place finish in 1994, when they beat BC in the first round), necessitating the addition of the Minutemen.
UMass actually won the Beanpot in 1996 and 1997, then retained the trophy in 1998 when the championship game was rained out.
This will be the 12th meeting in the Beanpot between BC and UMass, with the Eagles holding a 6-5 edge after last year's championship game.
Holy Cross actually played in the Beanpot consolation game in 2007 despite never losing a first round game. BC beat Harvard at Fraser Field, 6-3, in the First Round. Due to play UMass in the consolation game, the Crimson had a scheduling conflict, which necessitated adding Holy Cross for one game. Holy Cross won, 8-3.
I really try to avoid being snobby about BC baseball, simply because there's plenty within the ACC to keep me busy - namely the facilities discussion that creates a gigantic chasm between the Eagles and literally the worst four other teams in the conference.
But this is one of those times where I'm going to allow myself. There are times that BC loses in the Beanpot, and that's fine because it encourages competition. But the Eagles should win this game, and in the grand scheme of the season, it's okay to expect that to happen.