79ºF

Boston College travels to Miami ready to keep Cinderella story alive

ACC teams meet in super regional with trip to College World Series at stake

photo


CORAL GABLES, Fla. – In what might be the Cinderella story of the 2016 college baseball season, Boston College will meet Miami this weekend in South Florida for the right to advance to the College World Series.

The Eagles are one of 16 teams left in the NCAA baseball tournament, advancing to a super regional for the first time in school history. Boston College emerged with a perfect 3-0 record last weekend in the Oxford Regional, where top-seeded Mississippi was the favorite.

"It was one of the most fun things I've ever been able to do, as far as in my athletic career, in my coaching career, just sitting in the dugout being able to watch the boys celebrate," Boston College head coach Mike Gambino said Thursday.

Now the Eagles will face one of college baseball's most storied programs in perennial power Miami, which hasn't missed the postseason since 1972. Miami has been to the CWS 24 times, winning four national championships, most recently in 2001.

Although both teams play in the Atlantic Coast Conference, they haven't met since March 2014, when the Hurricanes swept the Eagles in a three-game series in Coral Gables. "It's interesting that it is an ACC club," Miami head coach Jim Morris said.

"I wouldn't have thought that we would have been playing against another ACC team, but again, it's just a testament to the quality of baseball in the ACC. We have 10 teams in the tournament and every weekend is a battle."

Boston College played its first 20 games on the road or at neutral sites in warmer climes before its March 29 home opener. Of the 64 teams that made the NCAA tournament, only Utah and Princeton played their home openers later (March 30)."

Coming where we come from, weather is not going to affect us," Gambino said. "We are used to weather. It might be a different kind of precipitation than we tend to get in Boston, but weather is not going to affect these boys."

The Eagles are led by one of the nation's top pitchers in junior right-handed pitcher Justin Dunn (4-1, 1.49 ERA), who was selected with the 19th overall pick by the New York Mets in the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Dunn will take the mound for the Eagles in the super regional opener Friday, while junior right-hander Mike King (7-4, 3.21 ERA) will start Saturday's game.

Gambino said he has confidence in both pitchers and the quality arms in his bullpen.The Eagles have won nine of their last 11 games and are one of the hottest teams in the tournament, but Morris said it's to be expected in early June.

"At this stage, with 16 teams remaining, everybody's hot and everybody's got good players, no question about that," Morris said. "It comes down to little things. It might be bunt defense or offense or making a play or making a pitch, or it might be how kids handle the draft."