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Birdball Midweek Preview - Northeastern

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After being on the road for 17 games the Eagles return “home” to face the Huskies in Brookline

Image courtesy of BCEagles.com
BCEagles.com

After playing the first 17 games of the season on the road, the Eagles finally return to Massachusetts for their first midweek game of the season on Tuesday, as they take on the Northeastern Huskies in Brookline. BC comes into Tuesday’s contest with an overall record of 6-11, looking to get back to their winning ways before “hosting” #9 Clemson this weekend in Kingston, Rhode Island. Let’s take a closer look at the Eagles’ first, true midweek game of the season:

Game Location:

Parsons Field at Friedman Diamond, Brookline, MA

Game Time:

Tuesday, March 21st @ 3pm vs. Northeastern University

Projected Starters:

Tuesday: BC: So. RHP Jack Nelson (0-0, 4.05 ERA) vs. NE: Fr. LHP Sean Mellen (1-0, 4.63 ERA)

How to Watch/Listen:

Fans can follow Tuesday’s action on Gametracker, or, via a live video stream provided by the Northeastern athletic department. Both options can be found on Northeastern’s athletic website on the baseball schedule page, located here.

What you should know about the Northeastern Huskies:

Northeastern comes into Tuesday’s game with an overall record of 7-10, having most recently dropped a road series to the Cincinnati Bearcats, 2-1. When looking at the Huskies season to date, it is eerie how similar they have been to Boston College. Their records are almost identical, they have both played every game on the road so far this season, and both have been somewhat underwhelming in 2017 after successful campaigns in 2016.

The Huskies’ offense is the strength of their team. Through 17 games, they are hitting an even .300 as a team with eight players hitting over that mark. Junior infielder Max Burt leads the everyday players for the Huskies, hitting a scorching .388 with two homeruns and 12 RBI. Behind him is senior infielder Cam Hanley who is batting at a .362 clip with one homerun, while leading the team in RBI with 14. Cam Walsh and Mason Koppens are also dangerous at the plate as pair has hit .340 and .306, respectively, with a combined ten runs batted in so far this season.

While the offense has carried Northeastern through its first 17 games, their pitching staff has been somewhat of a liability to date. Entering Tuesday’s contest, the Huskies’ pitchers have compiled a 7.08 team ERA, while allowing opposing hitters to bat .303 off of them in the early going. However, one of the bright spots of the Northeastern staff has been the addition of freshman Sean Mellen, who BC will face on Tuesday. The left handed Mellen sports a 4.63 ERA in 11.2 innings pitched, and won his only start of the season against Toledo in the Snowbird Classic. The Eagles will need to be disciplined at the plate to overcome the talented freshman.

What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:

After weeks of traveling, the Boston College baseball team finally returns “home” to take on Northeastern. Granted, the game is being playing in Brookline, not Chestnut Hill, but ask any player and they will tell you, a fifteen minute bus ride trumps a four hour plane ride any day of the week. Much like the Huskies, the Eagles entered 2017 with high aspirations, but have so far underperformed, coming into Tuesday’s game with an overall record of 6-11.

At the plate, the BC offense has run into a string of quality arms to start the season. That talent, coupled with slow starts by a few players, has kept the Eagles’ bats from truly exploding. Sophomore Gian Martellini and junior Mitch Bigras lead the Boston College offense, as both are hitting .283 for the season, with Martellini driving in 12 runs and Bigras 11. Following those two are senior Michael Strem and junior Donovan Casey who are hitting .254 and .250, respectively, while combining for 14 RBI and eight stolen bases. Some other position players that may see more action on Tuesday than normal are freshman catcher Jake Goodreau, who recorded his first career hit this past weekend at Louisville, and freshman Jack Cunningham, who has appeared in five games on the season (mainly on the mound) and has recorded one hit in two at-bats.

The BC pitching staff has been the strength of the team so far in 2017, as they boast a 4.54 team ERA, and have limited opposing batters to a .251 average. Despite the good numbers to start the season, the Eagles have, at times, shown the proclivity to lose the strike zone and walk batters. Sophomore Jack Nelson, BC’s starter on Tuesday, will need to avoid doing just that if he wants to have success against the talented NU lineup. Nelson, a righty, has appeared in four games for the Maroon and Gold this season, amassing a 4.05 ERA in 6.2 innings. This will be his first career start on the mound.

Prediction:

Midweek games between BC and Northeastern are always hotly contested. Maybe it’s the proximity of the campuses, maybe it’s because the games are usually played on cold, blustery days either in Brookline or Chestnut Hill, but, whatever it is, the Eagles and Huskies always play close. Add to that historical context the similarities of the 2017 versions of these squads, and you have the recipe for a good one on Tuesday. However, I am of the mind that good pitching beats good hitting, and because of that, I give BC the edge in this first of two yearly meetings between the Eagles and Huskies. I won’t say this game is a “must-win” for BC because we’re only in the third week of March, but if they hope to get back to the NCAA tournament, which they can do, they cannot afford to lose many, if any, midweek contests. I also think this game is important for BC to get their bats going. They say hitting is contagious, so, lighting up a less than stellar pitching staff might be just what the doctor ordered for Boston College as they head into the weekend against a very good Clemson team. And, to top it off, I think the level of competition faced by the Eagles so far this season far outpaces that of Northeastern, meaning that BC is more battled-tested than the Huskies at this point, and will use that experience to win. Don’t be surprised if the game is close for the first few innings or so, but I predict BC puts up double digit runs en route to their first midweek win of the season.