May 17, 2002
by Simit Shah – Matthew Boggs isn’t the strongest or fastest player on the Tech baseball team, but make no mistake about it, he is the heart and soul of the Yellow Jackets.
The Tech third baseman is a seasoned veteran in his fifth year on the Flats, and he has certainly saved the best for last. Boggs just completed a white-hot stretch, the likes of which few ballplayers ever experience.
During a five-game span last week, Boggs hit a whopping .609 (14-for-23), including seven extra-base hits and 10 RBIs. The stretch started with a 4-for-4 performance against top-ranked Clemson and concluded with his first collegiate home run against Miami, the defending national champs.
“It’s been exciting,” said Boggs, who was named ACC Player of the Week for the first time in his career. “I’ve pretty much been waiting all season to break out of this funk. This is certainly the best time to get hot.”
The homer was his first in 712 at-bats, a drought that Boggs called “a little too well-documented.”
“When I hit it, I knew it was gone,” said Boggs, whose last dinger came in 1997 his senior year at Dalton High School. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. After I hit it, I told a couple of the guys, ‘Man, I forgot what that felt like.'”
Last week also included a more familiar experience–Boggs was named to the district Academic All-America team for the third time in five years. The perennial dean’s list student graduated last fall with a bachelor’s degree in textile engineering, and he is currently pursuing his master’s in the same discipline.
A fifth-year senior like Boggs is a rarity in college baseball, but head coach Danny Hall considers it a luxury on a team with 17 freshmen.
“He’s been in the program for five years, and he’s seen and done it all,” Hall said. “He understand me and our system, and that’s valuable, especially when you have a young team. He’s like another coach on the field.”
Based on his career, Boggs could coach just about anywhere on the field. The 5-foot-10, 166-pound left-handed hitter has played six different positions and has hit up and down the lineup since he arrived on campus in 1998.
“It’s been a challenge at times to move around so much,” said Boggs, who sat out the 2000 season with an elbow injury. “My most natural position is probably in the middle infield, but I’ve been comfortable at third this season.”
After beginning the season as the leadoff hitter, Boggs has moved down in the lineup to provide some punch to the lower third of the order. So far so good, as he is hitting .344 with a .427 on-base average. He’s been hit by pitches 10 times this year and is the school’s all-time leader with 53.
“Yeah, he’s undersized, but he’s a tremendous competitor,” said Hall. “He’s always come through for us in the clutch. Physically, he doesn’t stack up to some of the other guys out there, but his work ethic and effort set him apart.”
As the regular season enters its final weekend, Boggs is focused on just one thing-making it to the College World Series.
“I think we’ve got everything you need to make a run in the postseason,” he said. “We’ve got a strong pitching staff. Even through they’re young, they have a lot of talent. We can make some noise.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to look back one day and say I made it Omaha to play in a World Series.”
It’s also a sure bet that he’ll be talking about his lone home run as well.
“I’ll definitely remember that,” he laughed “That’s been running through my head since Sunday. I just can’t seem to get it out.”