May 29, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas - Down three runs entering the top of the ninth, Boston College put together five-straight hits to start the inning including a go-ahead three-run homer from junior John Spatola and the Eagles took its first NCAA Baseball Championship game in 42 years, 8-7, against Texas State in front of 5,184 fans at Texas' UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

The Eagles (34-24) will face the winner of the second game of the day, either national No. 1 seed Texas or fourth-seeded Army, on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT at the Disch.

After the offense was stifled by Texas State starter Kane Holbrooks, BC exploded for six runs in the top of the ninth off of the Bobcats' bullpen. The Eagles had six hits in the first eight frames before tallying eight in the ninth. The first five BC hitters each recorded a hit.

Junior Barry Butera and redshirt freshman Andrew Lawrence both singled to put the first two runners of the inning on the corners and then sophomore Mike Sudol doubled to the gap for a run. Spatola then rocked a 1-1 offering over the wall in right to put the Eagles ahead for the first time, 6-5.

Junior Robbie Anston kept the rally going with a single up the middle for BC's fifth-straight hit and then sophomore Matt Hamlet sacrificed him up to second for the inning's first out. Junior Tony Sanchez went opposite field over the head of the right fielder for a double and another BC run. Junior Mike Belfiore then took advantage of a 3-1 count and singled to extend the lead to 8-5, which proved huge in the end.

Texas State got two runs back in the bottom of the ninth but stranded the tying run on second. Bret Atwood walked to start the frame and then Paul Goldschmidt drove an 0-1 pitch from Belfiore over the wall in left to pull the Bobcats within a run, 8-7. Adam Witek then walked on four pitches and Spenser Dennis moved him into scoring position with a sac bunt, but he was stranded at second to end the game.

Spatola's go-ahead homer in the ninth was his fourth of the year. He went 2-for-4 with a career-high four RBI. Sophomore Mickey Wiswall went 3-for-5 with an RBI and Butera and Lawrence both had two hits.

"In the third inning when I got a single, that was the biggest hit of my life because this is a NCAA Regional," Spatola said. "Then the home run surpassed that. This is the big stage and this is where you want to be."

With Anston's single in the ninth inning, he broke the Boston College single-season record for hits. He now has 83 this year which surpassed Jared McGuire's 82 in 2005.

Junior Chris Kowalski picked up the win after throwing a scoreless eighth inning and Belfiore picked up his ninth save of the season. Senior JB MacDonald got the start and went 6.1 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits.

The Bobcats manufactured a run in the bottom of the first to take an early lead when Paul Goldschmidt brought home Tyler Sibley with a sac fly to center.

Boston College tied it up with a run in the top of the third. Spatola got things going with a leadoff single and after the first out was recorded, Hamlet singled through the right side to put runners on the corners. Wiswall got Spatola home with a sharp single on a 1-1 count.

Texas State posted another run in the bottom of the fourth to regain the lead. Dennis took the first pitch of the inning to the gap in right for a double and then Ben Theriot singled to right to put runners on the corners. MacDonald got out of the inning with minimal damage as he caught Lance Loftin looking at strike three but then surrendered a fielder's choice to Kyle Livingstone which brought a run home.

The Bobcats added two more runs in the sixth to increase their lead to 4-1. Keith Prestridge looped a soft single to center to leadoff and after MacDonald retired the next two batters, Loftin one-hopped the wall at the 405 marker for a double to bring Prestridge all the way around to score. Livingstone stepped to the plate next and popped up between Hamlet and Spatola, but Hamlet lost the ball in the sun and Livingstone got an RBI double to give Texas State the three-run lead.

The Eagles managed to get another run across in the top of the seventh to cut the deficit in half. Lawrence started things off with a double down the line in right and then Sudol sacrificed him 90 feet to third. Spatola got the run home with a groundout to first.

Texas State got the run back immediately in the bottom half of the inning when Prestridge snuck an RBI single past a diving Wiswall at third base. That put the Bobcats' up 5-2 and set up the Eagles for their ninth inning heroics.

Prestridge went 3-for-4 for Texas State (42-16) with an RBI and a run. Goldschmidt drove in three runs and hit a homer and Loftin went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run. Livingstone had a double and drove in three runs as well.

Holbrooks got a no decision after throwing 7.0 innings and allowing two runs on five hits.