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Birdball Weekend Preview - #2/#3 Florida State

The Eagles open up ACC play against the legendary Mike Martin and his Florida State Seminoles

Image courtesy of BCEagles.com
BCEagles.com

The first three weeks of the college baseball season saw Boston College make trips to Daytona Beach, Florida, Norman, Oklahoma, and then back to the Sunshine State for a five-game set at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte. Now, to open up ACC play, the Eagles will take the long drive up I-75 and over on I-10, to Tallahassee, to take on of the very best teams in the nation, the Florida State Seminoles. Let’s take a closer look at this weekend’s matchup:

Game Location:

Dick Howser Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida

Game Times:

Friday, March 10th @ 6pm ET vs. Florida State

Saturday, March 11th @ 6pm ET vs. Florida State

Sunday, March 12th @ 1pm ET vs. Florida State

Projected Starters:

Friday: BC: So. RHP Jacob Stevens (1-0, 1.37 ERA) vs. FSU: So. RHP Cole Sands (2-0, 3.29 ERA)

Saturday: BC: Fr. RHP Matt Gill (1-2, 6.00 ERA) vs. FSU: So. LHP Tyler Holton (3-0, 0.47 ERA)

Sunday: BC: So. LHP Dan Metzdorf (1-1, 2.60 ERA) vs. FSU: Fr. LHP Drew Parrish (1-0, 4.76 ERA)

How to Watch/Listen:

For the first time all season, the Eagles will be on “TV” as all three games versus Florida State will be aired on the new ACCN Extra via the WatchESPN app. Links for all three games can be found on the schedule page for baseball at BCEagles.com. For those in the Tallahassee area, all three games will also be broadcast by the FSU Baseball radio team on 106.1 FM.

What you should know about the Florida State Seminoles:

Florida State, led by legendary head coach Mike Martin, comes into the weekend ranked in the top-three nationally in both major polls (#3 by D1Baseball, #2 by Baseball America). The Seminoles are off to yet another hot start to the season. After dropping their season opener at home to VCU, they have gone on a 12-1 tear, winning the series versus VCU, sweeping Samford and Oakland and, most recently, taking a two-game midweek set over UCF.

The key to Florida State’s early season success has been their pitching staff, as the Seminole hurlers have combined for a 2.62 team ERA, while only allowing 34 earned runs and holding opposing batters to a .213 average. The Eagles lineup will face a daunting task this weekend as it faces a FSU rotation that features Saturday starter Tyler Holton. The left handed sophomore has been the ace of the Seminoles staff so far this season, throwing 19 innings, striking out 32 while only issuing four walks, en route to a 0.47 ERA. The other two starters, Cole Sands and Drew Parrish are not push-overs either, as they sport 3.29 and 4.76 ERAs, respectively.

While the Seminoles’ pitching staff has led the way so far this spring, the FSU offense has held its own in the early going. Through fourteen games, Florida State has four everyday players hitting above .300 and five with double-digit RBI’s. The biggest offensive weapon the Seminoles have is senior first baseman Quincy Nieporte who, in 45 at bats, has registered 14 hits, good for a .311 average, and has belted four homeruns with and astounding 22 RBI. Adding to FSU’s power surge is junior outfielder Rhett Aplin who, on top of hitting .382, has hit five doubles and two homeruns, while driving in 10. Freshman Nick Derr is also enjoying nice start to his career in the Garnett and Gold, as the infielder has hit .361 in nine starts on the season. Also, keep an eye on catcher Cal Raleigh. Even though the sophomore is currently only hitting .204 with one homerun, he was a unanimous First Team Freshman All-American selection a year ago, after starting 62 games and hitting .301 with 10 homers for the Seminoles. He could go off at any time.

What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:

Pulling into Tallahassee at 5-6 is, more than likely, not what BC envisioned when it opened its season three weeks ago. A tough series sweep at Bethune-Cookman mixed with a heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma and lackluster performances against Georgetown and Ball State in the Snowbird Classic have held the Eagles from getting into a groove before opening ACC action. However, despite their record, you can bet BC will come ready to play this weekend.

If Florida State’s pitching staff has been as good as expected this year, then the Eagles’ has been fantastic, overachieving to the tune of a 2.88 team ERA, striking out 76 and holding opponents to a .240 batting average. Leading the way is the ace of the staff, Jacob Stevens who sits at 1-0 on the season with a 1.37 ERA in three starts. It took opponents 19.2 innings to final tag him for an earned run, which occurred in his most recent outing versus Central Michigan. Sophomore left hander Dan Metzdorf has been a pleasant surprise so far this spring. The converted match-up specialist has thrown 17.1 innings in three starts, compiling a 1-1 record with a 2.60 ERA. Also, senior Luke Fernandes has been the most-steady arm out of the bullpen, allowing one hit in three appearances.

The Eagles’ offense has been on a rollercoaster through eleven games this season, sometimes pounding opposing pitchers for double-digit hits, and sometimes completely disappearing. Sophomore Gian Martellini is BC’s leading hitter so far, recording 13 hits in his first 42 at bats, good for a .310 average. He’s also added four doubles and leads the team with nine RBI. Behind him is junior Donovan Casey who is hitting at a .289 clip, with two doubles and three RBI. Senior Michael Strem is second on the team with seven RBI and is also hitting .261 in 46 at bats. Sophomore Jake Alu, who recently cracked the starting lineup after an injury to Scott Braren, has made the most of his time on the field, hitting a solid .308 in 13 plate appearances, while adding three stolen bases.

Prediction:

The Eagles first three weekends in ACC play are a murder’s row of college baseball elite: at #2 Florida State, at #6 Louisville and home versus #9 Clemson. Looking at that schedule, one gets the feeling that someone in the scheduling department at the ACC doesn’t like Boston College very much. I kid, however, you know what would help alleviate some of that strain? Having that second ACC series of the year at home. How could that happen, you ask? With a new stadium, of course! And I tell you all about why it should happen in a post from earlier this week (shameless plug)! Alright, back to business: Florida State. Believe it or not, even with the difficulty of those first three weekends, if BC comes out with 3-4 wins, they’re right in the thick of things in the ACC. What that means is, it is very important that the Eagles avoid getting swept this weekend. They need to win one. I don’t love the Gill versus Holton matchup on Saturday, as I think Holton, who is one of the best pitchers in the nation, will hold the Eagles under four runs, and Gill, because he is a freshman, may struggle with the firepower of FSU’s lineup. With that said, I really like the matchup of Stevens versus Sands on Friday. We know Stevens will battle all night against the Seminoles’ lineup, and their starter, Cole Sands, is beatable and has the proclivity to walk guys, so, don’t be surprised if BC wins the series opener. Metzdorf versus Parrish on Sunday is also intriguing, as Sunday games in the ACC usually are, as the two lefties will battle it out for (hopefully) a series win. One thing working heavily in Florida State’s favor, however, is their crowd. The Seminole faithful are loud and love their baseball team. Whether it’s singing “O Canada” during the “fifth inning stretch,” or the “Hotdog” chant after eight strikeouts, there is no denying the fans in Tallahassee get into the game. For that reason, I will be logical with my pick and say BC heads back to Chestnut Hill 1-2 in the ACC.