Boston College Eagles vs. Miami Hurricanes
Friday First Pitch: 5 PM
Saturday First Pitch: 12 PM
Sunday First Pitch: 12 PM (if necessary)
In the postseason, numbers really don't matter. A hot pitcher, a hot hitter, a hot team? They can do things that were only possible in their dreams. It can belie all numbers, all trends, anything you want to believe gives your team an edge.
Boston College heads to Miami for their first ever Super Regional series. On paper, Miami has the better bullpen, the better lineup, the better facilities, and the better pedigree. They have it all, and there's no reason to believe they won't win at least two games this weekend and advance to the College World Series, even against the one area where the Eagles have an advantage - starting pitching.
But this isn't about who is better. This is about who can win, and who can win on this day, on this weekend. You don't have to be the more talented team; you simply have to play better in the right areas to win the game. And for a team like Boston College, that's all they need for a chance.
Anyone who is a Miami fan is allowed to feel confident, but they should be scared. No matter how good their team is, they're going up against a team that defines the very textbook meaning of "chemistry." There's 35 guys who will run through a wall for each other, a genuine love and bond between them.
Miami might have the talent, but they don't have that. They might have great team chemistry, but they don't have the bond shared in the Boston College clubhouse.
So maybe numbers do matter. The numbers one and two are what the focus is on. All you have to be is one run better for two games. Miami might be the more talented team, but for Boston College, they have the chance.
And, really, that's all they need.
Overall Record: 48-11 (21-7 ACC)
Last Time Out: The Hurricanes swept an incredible regional hosted at Coral Gables, defeated in-state rival Stetson, 4-2, in the first round before defeating Long Beach State, 4-3, in 11 innings in the second round. After the Dirtbags won their elimination game, the Hurricanes jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the Regional Final, only to see it evaporate to an 8-8 tie. Miami wound up winning, 9-8, eliminating Long Beach State and ensuring a Super Regional played at home at The Light.
Around The Horn
Miami has a lineup that is fatally dangerous. They hit .297 as a team, scoring an absurd 409 runs this year. They hit 96 doubles, 11 triples, 43 homers, and amassed 829 total bases. They struck out a heck of a lot more (437) than they walked (276), but that doesn't take away from the absolute damage they can and most likely will inflict on any pitcher.
The most dangerous hitter in the lineup is First Team All America selection Zack Collins. Yet amazingly, he's not the top statistical option in most categorie. His .358 average is only second on the team, as are his 53 RBI, and his 111 bases are tied for the team lead. His nine doubles aren't even close to the top. He does lead the team in walks with 69 and on-base percentage (.534), but otherwise, for a guy who's the top prospect on the team, he's not the best hitter.
Brandon Lopez is hitting near .400 at .392 with 41 RBI. Johnny Ruiz and Carl Chester are both hitting .338, both with 95 total bases and an equal .429 on-base percentage. The difference between the two is Ruiz's 51 RBI, which is third on the team.
You've got Randy Batista at .286 and Willie Abreu with 12 homers and 55 RBI despite only hitting .269. For what it's worth, Abreu has a .507 slugging percentage.
In contrast, Boston College enters with only three guys over .290. After his series last weekend, Johnny Adams is now up to .297, which is third on the team but a far cry from the beginning of his season. After Adams, Michael Strem (.298) and Scott Braren (.304), BC has six players between .283 and .262. That's a remarkable consistency that proves the Eagles have an approach that the #3 hitter might not be better than the #7 and the #9 hitter might be able to drive in a run just as easily as the #2.
For more comparison sake, there are four Eagles with between 20 and 25 RBI, and only two have more than 30. The team leader is at 35 with Joe Cronin. As they enter this weekend, there's no questioning the Eagles are a top to bottom team and the concept of a "best hitter" simply doesn't exist. It's all about whoever is hot at the right time, and that could be incredibly tough for the Hurricanes pitchers to prepare.
On The Bump
But lets' talk about those Miami pitchers for a second. Their top three aces - Jesse Lepore, Michael Mediavilla, and Danny Garcia - went a combined 28-4 on the season with four shutouts.
Lepore didn't lose a game, going 9-0 with a 2.20 ERA over 73.2 innings. Mediavilla went 10-1 with a 3.18 ERA, throwing a team-high 90.2 innings. And Garcia, the "slow poke" of the bunch, went 9-3 with a "paltry" 3.50 ERA over 87.1 innings.
So where are the holes? Well to be honest there aren't many, but there are ways to beat this team. Mediavilla is a strikeout machine, sitting down 75 to just 38 walks. But he coughed up 78 hits, including 16 doubles. Garcia, while more of a control-to-contact hitter with 46 strikeouts to 30 walks, gave up 88 hits and a .268 opposing batting average. And Lepore, despite not allowing many runs at all, threw the least amount of innings.
The problem is that this staff is incredibly deep. Bryan Garcia is the nation's best stopper, recording 16 saves with a 2-0 record in 32 appearances and a 2.04 ERA. He struck out 52 to just 17 walks with only 25 hits. Frankie Bartow, although giving up about a hit per innings, went 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA. And Thomas Woodrey, as a weekday starter, still went 5-4, even though his 4.97 ERA wasn't all that great.
If the Eagles can get to the starters and push pitch counts higher, they have to worry about a very deep bullpen, with Keven pimentel, Devin Meyer, and Andrew Cabezas. Quite honestly, BC has to make this weekend a grind and work each at bat, but they have to be smart and try to put the ball in play. Otherwise Miami will eat them alive.
On the other side, there's no secrets to Boston College. The Eagles have the great equalizers in their starting pitching, especially in the first game out of Justin Dunn. But how that equalizer plays out will be dependent on a resurgent bullpen. John Witkowski pitched great in middle relief last weekend, and Bobby Skogsbergh was dominant. Jesse Adams, the converted starter, will exclusively be in the bullpen with the three games, meaning he will be able to rear back and pitch against the Canes if he's needed.
For BC, there's a formula to the pitching staff. The formula has to work in order to be successful.
Everyone wants to talk about the weather as a factor this weekend, and that's rightfully so. June in South Florida is a disgusting, humid, hot, sticky atmosphere. Temperatures will stretch up into the high-80s with high humidity, and the state is notorious for fast-developing rain storms that cause delays in baseball games (the Miami Marlins built a retractable dome for a reason).
The 5 PM start on Friday will be a blessing because the temperatures will fluctuate during the day. If the game were played early enough, batting practice would be under 80 degree temperatures before skyrocketing up to 87 or 88 for game time. Instead, we're looking at mid-80s with temperatures dropping throughout the game. There's a good chance there's going to be some rain early, and it potentially will play a role.
Saturday and Sunday are going to be interesting. The noon starts means it's going to be incredibly warm, but it incorporates forecasted rain in the middle of the afternoon. It's Florida; of course there's going to be rain in the middle of the afternoon. Keep an eye on the radar for the later innings if this game stretches close to the 3:30 PM mark.
If this series goes to three games, don't worry about the weather. The rains should hold off in the afternoon.
Where in the World is Boston College Baseball?
BC heads to Coral Gables and a best-of-three series at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
New York Yankees third baseman/designated hitter Alex Rodriguez donated $3.9 million to the school to invest renovations at The Light which have made it one of the premier facilities in the nation. The money installed a new concession area, new dugouts, new lighting, and new restrooms. It also installed a new clubhouse, weight room, training room, meeting room, video room, and academic area, with renovations to a new press box and VIP suites.
All that plus a brand new locker room for the Canes.
One thing to try if you're headed to the game is the "Mark Light Shakes." Apparently The Light is known for blended milkshakes in a "variety of different flavors and toppings." This weekend, they've introduced a Boston Cream Pie shake in honor of playing Boston College, which is wicked cool.
Music for Playoff Baseball in the 305
Pitbull & Ke$ha - Timber.
Oh you know we can't have a soundtrack to something in Miami without featuring Mr. Worldwide/Mr. 305 Pitbull. A couple of years ago, I remember this was played at every bar and party I was ever at.
Here's the thing about this weekend. The Eagles are playing with house money that they've won with house money at this point. They have absolutely nothing to worry about, so they can play loose and crazy. They can have fun. If they lose, it's the end of a great run that saw BC run into a potentially great program that's one of the best in the nation. If they win, it's a monumental upset.
Or is it? If the Eagles win this game, would it really be an upset? They've proven they can beat anybody at this point, If you win at this level of the game, you're just as good as anybody else. Nothing at this point is an upset.
But seriously Miami - the pressure is on you.
Special Bonus Track
Counting Crows - Omaha.
This is what it's all about. The winner of this weekend gets a trip to Omaha. Somewhere in Middle America.
Random Fact(s) of the Week
The last time Boston College played in a College World Series:
-An average house cost $14,250.
-The average annual salary was $7,300.
-Monthly rent averaged $125.
-Gas was 33 cents per gallon.
-A new car cost $2,750.
-A movie ticket cost a cool $1.25.
Also from that year:
-Rolling Stone was first published.
-Foot and Mouth disease ravages the United Kingdom
-The AFL-NFL World Championship Game was played for the very first time, with Green Bay defeating Kansas City, 35-10.
-The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
-Muhammad Ali was the heavyweight champion of the world until he refused military service and was stripped.
-Bob Dylan, The Doors, The Beach Boys, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, and The Monkees were all on the charts with The Fab Four.
-Bewitched, Hogan's Heroes, I Dream of Jeannie, Star Trek, and The Monkees were all on TV.
-Vanilla Ice and Kurt Cobain are born.
Needless to say, it's been a while.
In a playoff series, I'm liable to pick Miami because they're Miami, but there's something about Boston College that makes me feel uncomfortable in that pick. I might be a homer in this regard (or a "wikkid homah"), but I really think the Eagles have a damn good shot at winning this series.
Why is that? Well let's start with the obvious. I think Justin Dunn is the best pitcher in college baseball, just as good as sixth overall pick AJ Puk. But I also think Mike King is incredibly underrated and overshadowed at times. In the humidity, I think King's sinker will be able to gain some incredible heaviness to it, and it'll die on hitters. I think the thick air is going to do wonders in terms of pushing that out to the middle infielders. I think the weather is actually helpful for BC as opposed to being a negative.
I think BC can win this series, but I think this is going to be a battle. BC's earned the right to be considered capable of beating anybody, and I think Miami can't look past them. I think the Hurricanes should be worried but will be prepared.
This is one of the best series going this weekend, and I think this is going to be incredible. Go Eagles.