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Birdball Weekend Preview - The Snowbird Classic

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The Eagles will play five games in five days in Port Charlotte, Florida

Image courtesy of BCEagles.com
BCEagles.com

The Birds are flying down south again this weekend to participate in the annual Snowbird Baseball Classic, in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Eagles will look to build momentum heading into their first ACC series of the season next week, with five games in the next five days at the Snowbird Classic. Last weekend, BC took a big step forward at The 19 Ways Invitational earning their first two victories of the year over Northern Illinois and Villanova, and came within six outs of upsetting the host Oklahoma Sooners. This weekend, the Eagles will take on Central Michigan, Georgetown, Villanova, Ball State and Toledo during their annual spring break trip to Florida, and will follow that slate of games with an ACC road-series at Florida State next weekend. Let’s take a closer look at the 2017 Snowbird Baseball Classic:

Location:

North Charlotte Regional Park, Port Charlotte, Florida

Game Times/Opponents:

Friday, March 3rd, @ 2:30pm vs. Central Michigan

Saturday, March 4th, @ 2:30pm vs. Georgetown

Sunday, March 5th, @ 2:30pm vs. Villanova

Monday, March 6th, OFF

Tuesday, March 7th, @ 10am vs. Ball State

Tuesday, March 7th, @ 2:30pm vs. Toledo

Probable Starters:

Friday: BC: So. RHP Jacob Stevens (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. CMU: So. RHP Pat Leatherman (1-1, 5.91 ERA)

Saturday: BC: Fr. RHP Matt Gill (1-1, 6.00 ERA) vs. GTWN: Sr. RHP Simon Mathews (0-1, 8.74 ERA)

Sunday: BC: So. LHP Dan Metzdorf (0-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. NOVA: TBA

Tuesday Game #1: BC: TBA vs. BALL: TBA

Tuesday Game #2: BC: TBA vs. TOL: TBA

How to Watch/Listen:

Fans can follow all the action of the Snowbird Baseball Classic on Gametracker, available on the schedule page for BC Baseball at BCEagles.com.

What you should know about the Central Michigan Chippewa’s:

Head coach Steve Jaksa’s team comes into the Snowbird Classic with an overall record of 3-4. Having lost their opening weekend series to East Tennessee State University two games to one, the Chippewa’s rebounded last week to split a four-game set with Incarnate Word. CMU plays in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference as do Ball State and Toledo, two teams BC will also take on in the Snowbird Classic.

Offensively, the Chippewa’s have five everyday players hitting over .300, led by senior outfielder Alex Borglin. Borglin has started his season hitting a scorching .412 (14 for 34) with three doubles, three triples and eight RBI. Right behind him is sophomore infielder Jason Sullivan, who leads the team with 13 runs batted in, while hitting .387 (12 for 31) with a double and two triples. The Chips get a lot of their power from junior outfielder Daniel Jipping who, through only 20 at bats, has recorded three doubles and two homeruns, while hitting at a .350 clip.

On the mound the Eagles will face right hander Pat Leatherman, who has been CMU’s Friday starter so far this season. Leatherman, who stands 6’4 and weighs 234 pounds, has accrued a 1-1 record and 5.91 ERA in two starts this season. The Eagles should have plenty opportunity to put the ball in play and get on base as opponents are hitting .333 off the sophomore, who has issued eight walks to only five strikeouts on the season.

What you should know about the Georgetown Hoyas:

Coming into the weekend, the Hoyas sit at 4-5 overall, having won their last two times out against Navy and George Washington, earlier this week. After dropping a season opening series to Davidson, Pete Wilk’s squad rebounded by beating Coppin State before falling to USC-Upstate, Wofford, and Dayton last weekend. The Hoyas will take on Chicago State in the Snowbird Classic before playing BC on Saturday. Georgetown competes in the Big East conference and finished 2016 with a 25-29 record, good for fifth place in the conference.

Redshirt senior outfielder Zach Racusin leads the Hoyas at the plate, hitting .447 (17 for 38) on the season, with four doubles, two triples and six RBI. Leading the Georgetown offense in runs batted in with 12 is junior outfielder Michael DeRenzi. DeRenzi is also batting .395 (15 for 38) with two doubles, a triple, and a homerun, in nine games this season. He and Racusin make a formidable combo in the middle of the order for the Hoyas. Also, keep an eye on junior catcher Sammy Stevens, who is hitting .345 with two doubles and a homerun, as someone who can get the Georgetown bats going.

At the plate, the Eagles will have to contend with Georgetown starter Simon Mathews. Mathews, a senior, is 0-1 on the season with an 8.74 ERA in two starts. Opponents are hitting an astounding .407 off the right hander, but he does sport an impressive 11-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. What that should tell the Eagles’ hitters is that Mathews will be around the zone all afternoon with his pitches and they can be selectively aggressive at the plate. The Hoyas’ pitching staff, as a whole, has compiled a 7.62 team-ERA in 78 innings so far this season. Opponents are hitting nearly .300 off them and have launched nine homeruns against them in only nine games.

What you should know about the Villanova Wildcats:

If it sounds like you have heard this before, do not be alarmed. You have. The Eagles faced the Wildcats last weekend in The 19 Ways Invitational, earning a 10-3 victory. Through seven games this season, first-year head coach Kevin Mulvey’s team is still searching for their first win. After being swept on opening weekend by Norfolk State, the Wildcats were again swept last weekend in Norman, including the aforementioned game versus BC and a 17-1 drubbing at the hands of Oklahoma. Villanova will play Ball State and Central Michigan on Friday and Saturday of the Snowbird Classic, before taking on the Eagles on Sunday afternoon.

The Wildcats are led offensively by senior second baseman Todd Czinege. Czinege is the only Villanova hitter batting over .300 for the year, at .321 (9 for 28) with one RBI. Behind him are freshman outfielder Tyler Bruno and sophomore first baseman JP Radvany who are hitting .292 (7 for 24) and .286 (4-14), respectively. Both Bruno and Radvany have accounted for four RBI, and Bruno has recorded three doubles in seven games. Don’t let the lack of eye-popping numbers fool you; the Wildcats can score runs, as evidenced by the three they scored off BC in the first inning in their matchup last weekend.

The Villanova pitching staff, as a whole, has fared about as well as their lineup, compiling a 9.79 team-ERA on the season, striking out 50 and walking 34. Opponents are hitting an unbelievable .384 off the Wildcats, with 25 extra-base hits. However, in college baseball, statistics do not always accurately predict the outcome of games, and the Eagles will need to remain disciplined at the plate to beat Villanova, once again, this weekend.

What you should know about the Ball State Cardinals:

Head coach Rich Maloney enters his fourth season at the helm of the Ball State baseball program and brings a 4-3 Cardinals team to Port Charlotte for the Snowbird Classic. 2017 got off to a hot start for Ball State as they opened the season with an 8-3 victory over then #22 Maryland in the Clearwater Tournament before beating Alabama State and falling 10-4 to #6 Louisville. Last weekend, the Cardinals went 2-2 at the Caravelle Resort Tournament, losing to host Coastal Carolina 1-0 and West Virginia 4-1, before sweeping two games versus George Mason University. Ball State will play Villanova, Northeastern, Chicago State, and Georgetown at the Snowbird Classic before facing Boston College on Tuesday morning.

The Cardinals offense features one everyday player hitting over .300 for the season: sophomore catcher Trent Theisen. Theisen has begun the year hot, hitting an even .400 (8 for 20) through seven games, while adding two RBI. Adding some pop to the Ball State lineup are junior infielder Seth Freed and senior outfielder Matt Eppers, who each have three doubles and a triple on the young season. Eppers, who is hitting .250, has also accounted for five RBI.

Although Ball State has not announced a starting pitcher for Tuesday, their staff as a whole has been electric so far this season. As a team, they’ve held opposing batters to a .178 average and have accumulated a 2.76 ERA. They also have nearly a 2-to-1 strike out to walk ratio (64 to 33) while only allowing seven extra-base hits in 62 innings this year. They will present a tough challenge for the Eagles’ hitters in their first midweek action of the season.

What you should know about the Toledo Rockets:

The Rockets, under head coach Corey Mee, travel down to Florida with a 1-7 record on the season. After being swept in a four-game set on opening weekend by Tennessee Tech, Toledo went 1-4 last weekend in the University of Richmond Tournament, losing two games to Binghamton before splitting with host Richmond. They will take on USF in a three-game weekend series in Tampa, before traveling to Port Charlotte to play BC on Tuesday afternoon.

Offensively, the Rockets are led by junior first baseman Dalton Bollinger, who is hitting .333 (10 for 30) through eight games. Bollinger has also accounted for a double, two triples, and a home run while driving in a team-leading six runs. Past Bollinger, sophomore outfielder Ross Adolph and junior infielder Matt Hansen make up much of Toledo’s offense. Adolph, who is hitting .258 on the season, has already hit three homeruns, to go along with a double, triple, and four RBI. Hansen, who is also hitting .258, has knocked in five runs in eight games and has smashed three doubles.

Toledo’s pitching staff, through 66 innings pitched, has allowed opposing hitters to bat .279 while giving up 41 earned runs, good for a 5.59 team-ERA. The Rocket’s pitchers have also issued 39 walks and allowed 22 extra-base hits on the year.

What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:

After a disappointing opening weekend, the Eagles regrouped and came out swinging in The 19 Ways Invitational, earning dominant wins over NIU and Villanova. Sunday’s game, while not the outcome the BC faithful were hoping for, showed that the Eagles have the pitching and offense to play with, and beat, anyone in the nation. For seven of nine innings on Sunday, the Eagles had the Oklahoma Sooners on their heels, before giving up an eighth inning rally that ultimately led to the walk-off loss, dropping BC’s overall record to 2-4.

Offensively the Eagles’ bats came alive in Norman, as the team hit .321 for the weekend. Sophomore Gian Martellini, junior Jake Palomaki, and junior Donovan Casey are all now hitting over .300 for the season, and have combined to drive in more than a third of BC’s runs on the year. Junior Mitch Bigras also enjoyed a nice weekend at plate, upping his average by 120 points, and launching the Eagles’ first home run of the year.

On the mound, the BC pitching staff has been excellent, posting a 2.66 team-ERA through six games, allowing only 15 earned runs and holding opponents to a .221 batting average. The staff is led by sophomore right hander Jacob Stevens who, through two starts, has yet to give up an earned run. Joining Stevens in finding success in weekend rotation are freshman Matt Gill and sophomore Dan Metzdorf. Both the right handed Gill and left handed Metzdorf enjoyed quality starts at The 19 Ways Invitational, going seven innings and putting their team in a position to win. They will be relied upon heavily in the Snowbird Classic and the following weekend in Tallahassee.

Prediction:

The spring break trip to Florida is the longest one of the season every year for the Eagles. Playing five games in five days is hard enough, but add onto that the looming road-series at Florida State next weekend and you have a recipe for some tired ballplayers. However, even with the fatigue factor, all of BC’s matchups in the Snowbird Classic are winnable. The two biggest tests, in my opinion, will come on Friday afternoon versus CMU and Tuesday morning versus Ball State. I think that the Eagles take care of the other three games versus Georgetown, Villanova, and Toledo, handily. If Stevens can continue his string of impressive starts, I like the Eagles over the Chippewa’s on Friday. That leaves only Tuesday morning’s matchup “up in the air,” in my opinion. In a normal situation, I’d say BC takes the Cardinals by a couple of runs, but, this is not a normal situation. The 10am start time means the players, after a long weekend, will be at the field by 7:30am, and up at 6am or earlier. I can tell you honestly, it is tough to play that early. Add onto that the fact that Tuesday’s starter will be determined, more than likely, by who pitches out of the bullpen this weekend, and it’s possible the Eagles could be throwing an untested freshmen against a pretty good Ball State team. So, because of that ambiguity, I’m going to pick conservatively, like last weekend, and say the Eagles go 4-1 in Port Charlotte with wins over CMU, Georgetown, Villanova and Toledo. But, just like last weekend, don’t be surprised if they head to Tallahassee after a 5-0 finish in the Snowbird Classic.