May 5, 2005
This week the Athletics Department features the baseball team's starting catcher, Shawn McGill. In his junior season, the native of South Kingstown, R.I., has posted a .311 batting average and .418 on-base percentage in 45 games for the Eagles. Riding a seven-game winning streak, Boston College (33-14, 14-5 Big East) will face Big East foe Pittsburgh (22-16, 8-8 BE) in a three-game series at home this weekend.
Q: Showing that the team's 18-6 start was no fluke, the Boston College baseball squad has assembled a 33-14 record. What do you believe are the team's great strengths this season?
A: We try to play with a sense of urgency all the time with a high tempo. The guys are really close, and we believe in each other. We try to just play hard in practice and then in the games.
Q: Standing just three wins shy of setting the record for most wins in program history, what will it take to keep building momentum as your team looks to make some noise in the Big East Tournament?
A: It's going to be tough because we have some hard teams over the next couple of weekends. There is no easy series in the Big East. It's going to take a lot of focus and determination to play hard. If we really want to achieve our goal of 40 wins, which is tough, we've just got to play hard with a strong tempo and keep our heads in the game at all games. We have to come ready to play in every game.
Q: Senior pitchers Joe Martinez and Mike Wlodarczyk have each notched five complete games this season with earned run averages of 2.52 and 2.70, respectively. Talk about the contributions of these two players as the go-to guys on your pitching staff.
A: I think we have a good relationship, and I'm good friends with both those guys. I'm pretty honest with them. I can tell them what's working and what's not working. But, they have had great stuff all year. It hasn't been easy, but it has been fun. They have definitely made my job easier just because of the great stuff that they have been throwing.
Q: Both Joe (Martinez) and Mike (Wlodarczyk) posted earned run averages above 6.00 last season. What do you feel are the greatest reasons for their improvement from last season?
A: I know that they have confidence out there. I see a swagger that those two guys have. The thing that I think has really helped is that they get back to the younger pitchers - guys like Terry Doyle and Nate Jeanes. Those guys are two great leaders and are the captains of our pitching staff. They really teach a lot. [Pitching coach] Mikio Aoki has great influence, where they can bounce ideas off him. They have such a great relationship with him, and [Mikio] has been able to grow on players.
Q: Aside from the strong performances of Joe (Martinez) and Mike (Wlodarczyk), who do you feel have been some of the pleasant surprises in the Eagles' pitching arsenal this season?
A: Definitely Terry Doyle, a kid who works very hard. I've been impressed by him. I think that the way he works in the weight room and on and off the field has allowed him to be a pleasant surprise. Also, Nate Jeanes and Nick Asselin have been coming along. Asselin is getting a little more confidence, and as soon as he starts to trust his stuff a little better, I think that he has a chance to be a very good pitcher down the road. He just has to believe in his abilities.
Q: With an overall team batting average of .303 and an average of 6.6 runs per game this season, what have been the greatest factors in the team's high-octane offensive production?
A: I think that one of the things we do a lot better this year is running on the basepaths. We have been working on our agility at practice, and Russ DeRosa, in the weight room, has been trying to make us into better athletes so that we can steal bases. Looking at the hitting part, we all have approaches at the plate and coach has really been working with our approaches so that we go up there with a plan. We don't want to just go up there and hack at everything.
Q: Head Coach Pete Hughes has guided his teams to winning marks in each of his seven seasons at the Heights, and the 2005 campaign marks the fourth season in the last five in which the baseball team has registered 30 wins or more. What's his recipe for success?
A: He likes to make sure that his players are hard-nosed guys. He wants them to be just as intense and emotionally-involved as he is. He's a pretty emotionally-involved guy. If he sees someone that he doesn't think is involved, he will call them out. Sometimes, older guys will call out those guys because we have been around for a while. We know when someone is not giving 100% or who is not involved emotionally. I guess his recipe for success is to have a high intensity all the time, to play with a sense of urgency, and to have a high, high work ethic with a good tempo. He gets the most out of his players. That's really what he does best. He teaches that if you work really hard at something, good things are going to happen.
Q: What have been the biggest adjustments for you this season as you have moved into the starting role behind the plate after having primarily been the backup to Garrett Greer last season?
A: For me, it's just been trying to stay healthy. I've had some injury problems in the past which I've had to battle. I stretch a lot to stay healthy and keep working hard in the weight room and on the practice field. I hope that good things will come to me from that hard work.
Q: Talk a little bit about the play in the ninth inning of yesterday's 5-4 win over Dartmouth. Dartmouth had the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the inning. The next hitter hits a ground ball to Marco Albano at shortshop, and Marco throws home in an effort to get the lead runner. You take it from here.
A: I was just trying to catch the ball, and I knew it was an important situation. The [third-base runner] got a pretty good hit on me coming home. I was standing still, so I didn't have any momentum built up. Luckily, I held onto the ball. He gave me quite a shot, so I was pretty fired up that I held onto the ball. I think that even fired up our team. A lot of the guys on the bench were really excited. A double play resulted as the batter was called out, and by that point the wind was just out of their sails. I was very confident before that play that we were going to win, even as Dartmouth had the bases loaded. I felt confident in Doyle and in our defense. If we could get that out at home and Doyle could get a pop-up or something, I knew that we could get out of the inning and win the game. Maybe last year, we would not have felt that way in that situation, but I was trying to do everything I could to help the team win the game.
Q: What has been your greatest baseball thrill?
A: I think this year, it has been taking the field with the group of kids that we have. I've never seen a team that is this close. Everyone cares about each other, and we win and lose as a team. We work hard together. Everyone is brutally honest with each other. They'll call you out on things, and I think that has really helped us. To step on the field with this team and to play at Boston College has been a lot of fun.
Q: Glancing over your player bio, your birth date sticks out as a unique one. Do your teammates or friends ever give you a hard time about having only had five "birthdays," as your birthday falls on a leap day (Feb. 29, 1984)?
A: Some people say it's a cool thing to have. I've gotten a lot of jokes about it, but it's just kind of been a spoof. I usually just wait until March 1 to celebrate it. My parents were probably always late getting presents or something, so I gave them an extra day to get me a present.
Upcoming baseball games:
Saturday, May 7 vs. Pittsburgh, 12 p.m. (doubleheader)
Sunday, May 8 vs. Pittsburgh, 12 p.m.
Wednesday, May 18 vs. Marist, 3:30 p.m.
Friday, May 20 at Connecticut, 12 p.m. (doubleheader)
Saturday, May 21 at Connecticut, 12 p.m.
Thursday, May 26 through Saturday, May 28 - Big East Tournament, Bridgewater, N.J.