Baseball's 3-1 Win vs. No. 4 North Carolina Clinches ACC Championship Berth
May 14, 2009
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - The Boston College baseball team earned its spot in the 2009 ACC Championship with a 3-1 win against No. 4 North Carolina on Thursday at Eddie Pellagrini Diamond at Commander Shea Field.
It will be the first time that the Eagles have advanced to the conference tournament since its first season in the league in 2006.
Sophomore John Leonard picked the perfect time to come up with his best start of the season on the mound. He threw 5.1 innings and allowed one run on five hits. He struck out five and walked three. Freshman Matt Brazis picked up his first collegiate win when he closed out the sixth inning with a strikeout. Junior Mike Belfiore earned his eighth save of the season, throwing 3.0 innings and striking out four.
Boston College's pitching forced North Carolina to strand 12 runners on base which included leaving the bases loaded in the fifth and two men on in the seventh and ninth innings.
Junior Barry Butera led the way at the plate for the Eagles (31-21, 13-13 ACC) by going 3-for-4. Redshirt freshman Andrew Lawrence added a double while junior Tony Sanchez and sophomore Matt Hamlet both had sacrifice flies.
North Carolina had the bases loaded in the top of the fifth but didn't come away with any runs. Ryan Graepel doubled to left field with one out and then Brett Thomas and Ben Bunting drew walks to load the bases. Leonard got Levi Michael to fly out to left field but it wasn't deep enough to score a run. Dustin Ackley, the Tar Heels' most dangerous hitter, then stepped to the plate with two outs and Leonard got him to fly out to right to end the threat.
The offense rewarded Leonard in the bottom of the inning with a run to go ahead, 1-0. Sophomore Mike Sudol reached on an error by the second baseman to leadoff the inning and then freshman Brad Zapenas sacrificed him up to second. Sudol advanced to third on a fly out to right for the second out and then Lawrence reached safely when the first baseman allowed a grounder through his legs for the first run of the game.
North Carolina got the run back immediately in the top of the sixth. Garrett Gore singled to center field with one out and after a fly out, a balk allowed Gore to second base. Mike Cavasinni made BC pay when he snuck a ball through the right side of the infield for an RBI single to tie the game, 1-1.
BC got another run in the bottom of the sixth to pull ahead again. Consecutive singles by Belfiore and Butera put runners on first and second with one out and then a wild pitch moved them both into scoring position. Sophomore Matt Hamlet fought off numerous pitches before using a sacrifice fly to center to give the Eagles the lead back, 2-1.
North Carolina had another chance to score in the seventh but left two more runners on base. Bunting dropped a single over Zapenas' head at short to leadoff the frame and then Ackley singled with one out to put runners on the corners. Belfiore got Kyle Seager down swinging and then Zapenas took a run away with a spectacular diving play up the middle to throw Gore out at first.
BC added some insurance in the seventh with another run. Junior Robbie Anston led off and singled to left and he moved up to second base on a groundout by Lawrence. A wild pitch moved Anston over to third and then Sanchez got a ball deep enough to left to plate him and put BC on top, 3-1.
North Carolina (39-14, 17-10 ACC) threatened again in the bottom of the ninth but Belfiore came through for the win. Greg Holt led off and found the hole on the left side of the infield and after a fielder's choice, Michael singled to put runners on first and second. Belfiore then caught Ackley looking on the outside corner for the second out and then he got Seager to fly out to center for the win.
The teams will play game two of the series on Friday at 1:30 p.m. at Eddie Pellagrini Diamond at Commander Shea Field.