When Boston College returned home from the Oxford Regional on Monday, athletics department staff awaited them with an ovation. The cheers and adulation awaiting them coupled with television cameras and microphones to signify that things are very different in Chestnut Hill. After winning three games in a row in what was hailed before the tournament as the most competitive regional in the nation, the Eagles arrived in front of Alumni Stadium and Conte Forum as conquering heroes.
"It felt awesome to come home and have the support of the athletic department," said head coach Mike Gambino. "When we pulled up and they were all out there, the boys just went nuts. They thought that was really cool. But honestly, right now, the boys are excited, but there's a feeling that we're not done yet. Miami is a great team, and the regionals are over. We're in the (Super Regionals), so we just get and have to keep working."
"It feels awesome," said Oxford regional Most Outstanding Player Johnny Adams, "but you have to give credit to everyone else on the team. It was a team effort all weekend, and the pitching did great. We played all-around, full baseball, and we couldn't have drawn it up any better right now."
"For us, it's something we expected," said pitcher Justin Dunn. "A lot of people didn't think we could do what we just did, but we knew it all along. So it's awesome to come home and get the welcome that we got, from all the faculty and the people from BC athletics that supported us."
But even though the adulation and admiration is well earned, it's not enough for this group of birds. They know there's a next step and another migration to the south, a trip to the southern tip of Florida, into the heart of Dade County, and a Super Regionals date with the Miami Hurricanes.
"We're expecting a tough weekend," said Dunn. "That's one of the best hitting teams in the country down there, so if we don't put up a fight, they're going to Omaha easily. We just have to go and play our game, play mistake free baseball, and not back down."
"We haven't played them in a couple of years," said Adams, "so we're going to have to do a little bit of scouting. They're obviously a great team that hosts, but we've played a lot of teams that are similar to them in the ACC, so we'll be ready."
As winners of the Oxford Regional, the Eagles proved they belong. But heading into this weekend against Miami, when they take off from the airport, there's still something about this team that is a bunch of guys playing together with the rest of the world telling them that, quite simply, it can't be done.
"I would say there's a chip on the shoulder for the whole club," said Dunn. "To be able to go out and get past each round, people will ask, 'Oh my God did they just win a regional?' Yes, we just won a regional, and we knew we could do it. So now we're going down to Miami to hopefully make people ask, 'Did they just win a Super Regional?' We want the chance to tell them that we did, because the goal is to get to Omaha to win the national championship."
"This has been building," said Gambino, "since this senior class has been freshmen. Obviously it wasn't there record wise, but it's been a slow and steady build as far as that togetherness (and chemistry). The more we talk on it, and the more we work on it, the more they believe in it, going back to recruiting, it's their character. The number one rule is to make sure we get the makeup (of the team) right, and that goes all the way through."