Steve Englert is an assistant coach at Boston College. Each week, he will provide a journal of the previous week's happenings from Chestnut Hill.






March 4, 2003

Hanging with Nomar and the Gang


Eighty-two degrees beats 28 degrees any day. We arrived in Fort Myers, Fla., City of Palms, to begin our Spring Break trip. The road atlas was close at hand, for we'll be all over the Sunshine State, playing 11 games in the next 10 days. During this span we hope to fulfill our expectations of improving with each game and becoming a very competitive club.

We journeyed to the Boston Red Sox' minor league facility on Friday and got in a great morning practice. It was our first real workout outdoors since October, and we covered a lot of those areas that our indoor facility doesn't allow. When practice ended, we reviewed the itinerary for the evening's game against the Red Sox. That night is always special, and we're fortunate to be able to have this exhibition. Everyone was very much looking forward to it.

We arrived at the park at 4 p.m. to watch the big leaguers take batting practice. Our guys surrounded the cage as Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek, Shea Hillenbrand, Lou Merloni et al each put on their own hitting display, crushing ball after ball to all parts of the field. The Boston guys were just a class act in the way they treated our players. They were very approachable and more than willing to converse and joke around with the team.

It was all bomb rounds during our BP, meaning all of our hitters cut loose. One of our senior pitchers, Matt Duffey, was allowed to participate, and he went ‘big fly’ on just his fourth swing, pimping it the whole way out!

Before the game began, one of our naïve freshmen (aren’t they all?) was caught with the old “Go get the key to the batter’s box” trick, and all of the Sox, from coaches to players right on down to the clubhouse guys, played it to the hilt. The poor kid was running all over the place as our whole team watched and rolled in laughter.

The game provided a lot of offense, and we swung it pretty well, scoring a bunch. But Boston swung it a little better and scored a little more to beat us 9-6.

Garciaparra played his four innings and then came over to our dugout to kick it with the players for the last half of the game, providing a lifetime memory. That showed just what type of person he is, and 30 players donning maroon jerseys will tell you so.

The next day it was on to Homestead to play Purdue. It was a three-hour bus trip through Alligator Alley, and the classic comedy “Animal House” helped pass the time.

The game was a great pitchers’ duel, with both teams held in check offensively throughout. A duck fart double down the left-field line and a hard-hit ground ball turned into an error scored the only run of the game for them in the bottom of the ninth and sent us packing.

The team is continuing to play hard and compete, and we are staying positive knowing we are about to break out.

We’re on the road again the next morning, heading to Tampa, starving for our first win. Any more of these close games, and I’m breaking out the Lancaster and throwing in a rally chew.

(Editor’s note: BC lost its next game, 5-3 to Indiana on Monday, on a tie-breaking two-run double in the top of the ninth.)


Steve Englert


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Working the Kinks Out (2/25/03)


(photo courtesy of BC Media Relations Office)