Sitting at 30-21 overall and 12-13 in the ACC, Boston College was on the verge of reaching its first NCAA postseason in 42 years and needed one win to reach its first ACC Tournament; a necessary hurdle to help its candidacy for an at-large bid.
Barry Butera, Junior Shortstop: Going into it, we knew that if we won one we were most likely in. Going into a three-game series, we knew we wanted to get that out of the way in game one. We came out swinging, played a good clean game against a really good pitching staff that UNC had. A couple of those guys are still pitching in the big leagues like Matt Harvey and Adam Warren. We got an early lead and were able to hold on. I know our closer, Mike Belfiore, came in kind of early to hold on to that lead. We knew what that game meant; what one win would mean for us. We took care of business and it was a big stepping stone for the program.
Harry Darling, Senior Captain: I remember UNC was a stacked team. We beat Alex White, who was one of the top draft picks. They were loaded. We got the win out of the way early; game one of the series. It was kind of a simple win for us. We got ahead early and got a great pitching performance to hold them off. The weekend wasn’t over, but we got something to celebrate early on. We didn’t wait around to make it happen and the excitement and euphoria of making our first ACC Tournament had us over the moon. Getting the job done in game one was exciting to see all of the hard work pay off.
John Leonard provided five and one-third innings of one-run ball and Matt Brazis earned the win out of the bullpen, while Mike Belfiore got the save in the clincher. BC pitchers combined to strand 12 UNC runners on base in a 3-1 win. The No. 4 Tar Heels had the tying runs on base with one out in the ninth before Belfiore, now in his third inning of relief, struck out Dustin Ackley and forced Kyle Seager to fly out to center and send the Eagles into the postseason.
Mickey Wiswall, Sophomore Third Baseman: For us, the whole year, we thought we had a really good squad. We tried to compete day-in-and-day-out. It was a normal game. We treated every game as a competitive situation. It was something that we knew we could handle and it propelled us into the ACC Tournament. We wanted to take destiny into our own hands and we were able to do that.
Texas was the top seed in the NCAA Tournament and under the direction of long-time head coach Augie Garrido, who retired in 2017 as the winningest coach in college baseball. Before the Eagles could set their sights on the Longhorns, they had to step on to the field at Disch Falk Field against Texas State, which travelled just 35 miles north to Austin from its campus in San Marcos for the regional.
In its first NCAA Regional game in over four decades, Boston College stunned TSU in an 8-7 comeback victory to move into the winner’s bracket in Austin. Down three entering the ninth, BC put together five straight hits to start the inning and ultimately go ahead on a three-run homer from John Spatola.
Mik Aoki, Head Coach (2007-10): That was a big one. It was a come-from-behind win. They had Paul Goldschmidt on it. If I remember right, Johnny Spatola hit a home run late in the game to put us ahead and that was exciting to win game one and go into the winner’s bracket against Texas.
Darling: There’s one moment of that game that stands out above the rest. Johnny Spats hitting that home run. We were down, we were down most of the game. We had some opportunities and sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way, but Spats stepping up and hitting that ball…the minute it was off his bat our dugout just erupted. It was pandemonium. The big game with Texas, the next day, was very memorable, but from that brief moment in time that home run Johnny hit is something I’ll never forget.
Wiswall: John Spatola’s walk-off homer. Paul Goldschmidt was in that game too and he hit a missile early in that game. Spatola sealed the deal for us at the end and it was a great cap in the first game of the regionals. We knew we had Texas the next night, but Spatola’s home run still stands out to everyone.
Butera: It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We were all so excited about it. We welcomed the challenge against Texas in front of a packed house, a hostile crowd. We had Pat Dean on the mound, who was one of our go-to guys all year. We had a lot of confidence in him taking the hill. We faced their number one guy, who they held back in game one of the tournament to save him for us. We had a lot of good chances to go ahead and win that game, but you’ve got to take your hats off to their pitching staff and to our staff, who held them scoreless for so long.
Darling: Wood and Belf were the story of the game. That game could’ve been over a lot earlier. Texas probably felt like that game was 15 innings too long, but it also speaks to the way that our pitchers battled and our defense stepped up. We held off some high tense, bases loaded moments. It felt like we faced those every inning. We did a phenomenal job as a team of fighting to see another inning and giving ourselves a chance.
Mike Belfiore, Junior DH/Pitcher: I don’t think that [record] will ever be broken. I DH’d the game because I was going to potentially start the next game. As the game went on, we got more involved and made out comeback to tie it 2-2. I got in the game and it was a must-win in a sense because if we beat Texas we have leverage in the whole regional. It was a great day, even though we lost. We were a really good team, we bonded together and it’s a game that still brings us together.
Wiswall: Wood and Belfiore were just going back and forth. I think Belf went nine and two-thirds and Wood almost went 13 innings. It was an amazing feat. I had the luxury of playing a little baseball after college too and I’ve never seen something like those two guys going after it inning to inning. It was something special.
Aoki: We got two in the middle innings to tie it up. From there until the 25th inning there wasn’t a run scored. There guy was unbelievable; Austin Wood. He was amazing. He threw the equivalent of a no-hitter. Belf was unbelievable for us. He pitched terrific. We both had chances with runners at second and one out; them more than us. They were so good and honestly the umpires expanded the zone too. It was amazing. Wood gets a standing ovation. I think we turned some Texas fans into BC fans that night. It went so fast; the whole night. It was just inning after inning. We were hoping to keep Mike for the next day’s game, but we eventually just had to bring him into it.
Texas scored the winning run in the top of the 25th inning. As expected, Garrido put on a sacrifice after a leadoff-walk. A wild pitch moved the runner into scoring position and with the infield drawn in and base hit through the right side plated the go-ahead run.
Wiswall: It was kind of crazy. It was the first time that I played two full games at two different position. I played nine innings at third base, nine innings at first base and another seven innings back at third in the same game. The thing that stood out the most was that all of the fans stayed the whole seven hours and everyone was involved in every pitch. It was pretty cool and special. They were announcing the records that we were breaking in that timeframe. The support we had from the local Texas fans along with the BC fans that made the trip was special and made it a great night.
Belfiore: I played professional baseball after that. I played in the big leagues. That was probably the most intense crowd I’ve ever played in front of in my life. What it meant. Even a Texas fan is very loyal to their program, but for them to clap after the game for our team and show that respect was one of the coolest moments in my career.
Butera: It was definitely a unique atmosphere. We’ve all played extra innings in our lives. What was unique about this one was there wasn’t an empty seat; even at 1 a.m. It was a lot of intense moments throughout the game. The crowd was in it. There was no let up from both teams. When we lost that game, I wouldn’t say there was relief. We wanted to win it and we knew there was another game the next morning against Army. We turned out sights to get ready for that game, rest and recover.