With the Boston College football team waiting to find out their bowl destination and the Boston College men’s basketball team off to one of its best starts in years, it time to talk about – you guessed it –Boston College baseball.
On Tuesday evening, the athletic department released the Eagles’ complete 2018 schedule and, thus, started the countdown to opening day. Though February 16th still seems like a lifetime away, it’ll be here before you know it and, as such, it’s time to take an in-depth look at BC’s 2018 slate and talk about this year’s team. So without further ado, let’s jump right into baseball season:
The 2018 Schedule:
The Eagles finished the 2017 campaign with an overall record of 25-28, including an 11-19 mark in the ACC, and earned their second straight berth in the postseason, something that had not been accomplished since the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Some highlights from the year included a conference-opening win over nationally-ranked Florida State, a series sweep of the NC State Wolfpack which included the 6th Annual ALS Game at Fenway Park in front of nearly 5,000 fans, and a regular season-ending sweep of rival Notre Dame, which propelled BC into the postseason in dramatic fashion.
Right off the bat, looking at the 2018 schedule, found in its entirety here, a few things jump off the page:
The first being, for only the second time in school history, the Eagles will begin their season out West with a three game series at Santa Clara. The only other time BC opened up on the left-coast was in 2014 when they played two games apiece versus Santa Clara and Nevada. They went 3-1 during that trip, defeating host Santa Clara in both matchups.
The second item of note is, after a one-year hiatus, the Eagles and the Boston Red Sox will renew their rivalry when the two meet at Jet Blue Park in Ft. Myers, Florida on February 22nd. This game has been a longstanding tradition between the university and the Red Sox organization and is one of the most memorable experiences in a player’s life. It’s always a fun day that not only brings national exposure to the school and program, but also allows current members of the team to showcase their abilities directly to the front office of a big league club. It short, it’s an incredible experience and opportunity.
The last thing that really stands out on this schedule is a single phrase, repeated 24 times: “Brighton, MA.” That’s right, folks. The new stadium in Brighton is well on its way to completion and on pace to have the Eagles play a full home schedule (including night games!) on its new synthetic field turf. You can follow along with the progress of the new stadium by checking out the Bright Field Web Cam, found here. Needless to say this is an incredibly important upgrade for the program as a whole, and an exciting time to be around Boston College athletics.
Beyond those three points of interest the schedule looks solid. After opening the season in California, and playing the Red Sox, BC heads back to Port Charlotte, Florida to play in the Snowbird Classic. There, they’ll face three Big Ten opponents in Minnesota, Indiana, and Rutgers. Following their time in Florida, the Eagles will fly to Cary, North Carolina to face Niagara, regional-foe Bryant, and Army, which is led by former Eagles’ assistant Jim Foster. From there the team will head west on Interstate 40 for a single-game matchup with the UNC Asheville Bulldogs, led by another former BC assistant, Scott Friedholm. The following day, the Eagles will road trip to Greenville, South Carolina to face Wofford College, after which they’ll head back to the Tar Heel state to open conference play against the NC State Wolfpack on Friday, March 9th. When all is said and done, BC will have played 12 games (weather permitting) before entering the gauntlet that is the ACC.
The Eagles 2018 conference schedule looks like this: road series against NC State (Mar. 9th-11th), Virginia (Mar. 16th-18th), Clemson (Mar. 29th-31st), Notre Dame (April 27th-29th), and Miami (May 17th-19th), and home series versus Virginia Tech (Mar. 23rd-25th), Pittsburgh (April 6th-8th), Wake Forest (April 13th-15th), Florida State (April 20th-22nd), and Louisville (May 4th-6th).
Throughout this conference schedule, Boston College will play midweek contests against yearly opponents Holy Cross, Northeastern, Siena, UConn, Harvard, UMass, Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, Bryant, Rhode Island, Brown, and Maine.
A few dates of note on the schedule include the 7th Annual ALS Awareness Game, which will be played on April 21st at home against Florida State, First Responders Day taking place on May 4th at home versus Louisville, Military Appreciation Day on May 5th, also versus Louisville, and Senior Day on May 6th to wrap up the series with the Cardinals.
Without diving too far down the “season-prediction rabbit hole,” it looks like 2018 will be a great opportunity for the Eagles. Head Coach Mike Gambino will have a deep and experienced team returning this season, and though the ACC is unforgiving week-in and week-out, a favorable home-slate in conference will give BC a chance to make history and reach the postseason for an unprecedented third consecutive year. Speaking of that returning team…
Fall Ball Recap:
...BC returns a lot of talent, both on the mound and at the plate. Because of the ongoing construction on the new Indoor Practice Facility on what was formerly Shea Field, the Eagles split the fall practice season between the turf in Alumni Stadium and the baseball field at Babson College. Though the situation was not ideal, the team made the most of their opportunities this fall in anticipation of the upcoming season.
On the mound, Boston College returns its entire starting rotation from a year ago, something that is extremely rare in college baseball. Juniors Jacob Stevens and Dan Metzdorf, along with senior Brian Rapp, combined for nearly 235 innings pitched last season and will be called upon to the lead the staff once again. Also slated to see big innings this spring will be juniors Jack Nelson and John Witkowski, and senior co-captain Carmen Giampetruzzi. Nelson, a righthander, was the Eagles’ primary midweek starter a season ago and could push for a spot in the weekend rotation in 2018. Witkowski appeared in a team-high 19 games out of the bullpen and will again be a top option for Gambino in the latter half of ballgames, and Giampetruzzi, perhaps the most improved player on the Eagles roster from the time he arrived on campus, posted a 3.66 ERA in 16 appearances in 2017 and will be relied upon as a leader of not only the pitching staff, but also the team as a whole. Keep an eye on juniors Sean Hughes, Thomas Lane, Brendan Spagnuolo, sophomore Matt Gill and freshman Jack Hodgson who could all see significant time on the mound after good showings this summer and fall. Also, redshirt freshmen Mikey Giordano, Michael Marzonie, and Joey Walsh, are all back from injury and could provide huge depth for the Eagles out of the bullpen.
Offensively, Boston College returns almost its entire lineup from a season ago, and looks to have the most depth in the field of any team during Gambino’s tenure. Leading the way at the plate, and behind it, will be junior catcher Gian Martellini. A year ago Martellini hit for a .302 average and led the team in homeruns and RBI. After a good showing in the Cape League this summer, look for the Eagles’ backstop to gain national notoriety this spring. Along with Martellini near the top of the Eagles batting order will be junior utility-man Jake Alu who enjoyed a fantastic season a year ago, batting a team-leading .331, while stealing 12 bases. Senior co-captain Jake Palomaki, who set BC single-season and career records for walks last season, will again be counted on to be a catalyst at the top of the BC order. In three years on the Heights, the Kennesaw, Georgia native has started 147 games and is perhaps one of the toughest players on the roster. Along with Palomaki in the infield, the Eagles will feature senior first baseman Mitch Bigras, junior Anthony Maselli, and sophomore Brian Dempsey. The trio combined to start 126 games in 2017 and will be looked upon to build off of that experience this season.
After a healthy competition this fall, the outfield may be the only position group to see a few new faces this spring. Sophomores Jacob Yish and Dante Baldelli, who started 26 and 33 games, respectively, in the outfield last year, return as the most experienced players the group. Look for those two to get first-cracks at earning an everyday job. Sophomore Jack Cunningham and freshman Chris Galland have also shown the capability to be key contributors in the outfield with strong performances this fall. Cunningham, a righthander, could also see significant time on the mound this season, as he made 15 appearances out of the bullpen a year ago. Also back is redshirt junior Scott Braren, who opened the 2017 season as the Eagles starting right fielder before injuring his knee in the eighth game of the season. Look for the Madison, Connecticut native to push for time in the outfield or find his way into the lineup as an everyday DH.
So there you have it. The Eagles return a bevy of experience and talent in 2018 and look primed to make a push to get back to an NCAA regional, and with the excitement brought on by the construction of the new stadium this seems like a great opportunity to do so. Is it February yet?