After taking a beating last weekend at the hands of visiting North Carolina, the Boston College Eagles got back in the win-column on Tuesday with a gutsy come from behind victory against traditional rival Harvard. The win was the tenth of the season for BC and one that the Eagles will look to ride into this weekend’s important road series at ACC-foe Duke. Let’s take a closer look at this weekend’s series:
Jack Coombs Field, Duke University, Durham, NC
Friday, April 14th @ 6pm ET vs. Duke
Saturday, April 15th @ 1pm vs. Duke
Sunday, April 16th @ 1pm vs. Duke
Friday: BC: So. RHP Jacob Stevens (2-4, 5.32 ERA) vs. DU: Jr. LHP Mitch Stallings (3-2, 4.12 ERA)
Saturday: BC: So. LHP Dan Metzdorf (1-5, 4.91 ERA) vs. DU: TBA
Sunday: BC: Jr. RHP Brian Rapp (0-1, 4.24 ERA) vs. DU: Jr. RHP Ryan Day (2-2, 2.11 ERA)
How to Watch/Listen:
All three of this weekend’s games will be covered on Gametracker, as well as having audio streamed online via Duke’s athletic department, with a full video broadcast streamed on ACCN Extra via WatchESPN. All three links can be found on the baseball schedule page of BCEagles.com.
What you should know about the Duke Blue Devils:
In his fifth season at the helm of the Duke baseball program, Head Coach Chris Pollard again has his Blue Devils squad in contention for a birth in the ACC Tournament with a 6-9 record in conference to go along with an 18-17 mark overall. After taking their first conference series of the season over Virginia Tech, Duke has lost the last four, but has yet to be swept, allowing them to hang on to one of the final spots in Louisville. The Eagles and Blue Devils last met in 2015 in a series that was moved to Newark, Delaware due to poor field conditions in Chestnut Hill, in which BC swept Duke three games to none.
Offensively, Duke is in the middle of the pack in the ACC with a .275 team batting average and a .351 on-base percentage. The biggest offensive threat in the Blue Devils’ lineup is outfielder Griffin Conine. The sophomore is batting .333 on the season and leads his team in both homeruns and RBI with 10 and 42, respectively. His on-base percentage is also the best on the team at .442, as he has added 21 walks and six hit by pitches in 35 games this season. Behind Conine are junior Michael Smiciklas and sophomore Jimmy Herron. Smiciklas, an outfielder, leads the team with a .342 average in 27 games played and has added two homeruns and 16 RBI. Herron, also an outfielder, is hitting .305 with five homeruns and 26 RBI, while starting every game this season for Duke. On the whole, the Blue Devils’ lineup can be very dangerous with the long-ball, as they have combined for 29 round-trippers on the season. And, just as it was at Virginia Tech, with a park that plays as small as Jack Coombs Field, BC’s pitchers will really need to focus on keeping pitches down in the strike zone to be successful.
On the mound, Duke’s pitching staff has combined for a 5.01 ERA while allowing opposing hitters to bat .258 off them in 35 games this season. Of the three starters for Duke this weekend, the Eagles will face two really good ACC arms in juniors Ryan Day and Mitch Stallings. Day, a righty, has accrued the best stats in the Blue Devil rotation with a record of 2-2 and an ERA of 2.11. Stallings is a talented pitcher as well, as the left-hander comes into this weekend’s series with a 4.12 ERA and a 3-2 record. Beyond the starters, however, the Duke bullpen is solid, as four of their top relievers sport ERA below 4.50, something the Eagles’ lineup will need to overcome this weekend.
What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:
Mike Gambino’s team travels to Durham coming off their fourth midweek win in as many chances, pushing their overall record to 10-20, including a 1-14 mark in the ACC. Despite currently occupying the basement of the conference, the Eagles still have a shot to make the ACC Tournament, and a series win or sweep against Duke, who is currently tied for the 12th and final spot, would go a long way in that effort.
Offensively, BC is batting at a .235 clip as a team, with an on-base percentage of .326. Leading the way for the Eagles is two-way player Donovan Casey. The junior, who is hitting .298, leads the team in batting average, is tied for the lead in homeruns with two, and is third on the team in runs batted in with 14. He has also posted a 2.57 ERA on the mound this season, with a 2-1 record in ten appearances. Following Casey are sophomores Jake Alu and Gian Martellini. Martellini, BC’s everyday catcher, is hitting .290 in 29 starts this season, while adding two homeruns and a team-leading 18 RBI. Alu, a utility player, is batting .286 in 22 starts on the year with 11 RBI and six stolen bases. The Eagles’ offense has slowly come around this season after a shaky start and will look to exploit the hitter-friendly conditions at Duke’s home ballpark this weekend.
The Boston College pitching staff was roughed up a weekend ago against North Carolina, driving their relatively good composite stats way up. As a unit, they now hold a 5.60 ERA with a .269 opponent batting average, and have given up 90 extra base hits on the season. The rotation BC will use this weekend will be the same one they have used the past month, consisting of Jacob Stevens on Friday night, Dan Metzdorf on Saturday, and Brian Rapp in Sunday’s rubber match. While the Duke lineup has shown some pop this season, it has been proven that when BC’s rotation is throwing well, and hitting their spots, they can hold any lineup in check. With the aforementioned conditions of Jack Coombs Field, they’ll need to do just that during this series to pick up some very important wins in the ACC.
Well, my idea to steer clear of straight-up predictions didn’t do any good against UNC a week ago, so, I’m back on the horse! Let’s pick some games! In all seriousness, for as poor as BC’s conference record is right now, they still have a shot to make it into the ACC Tournament field. It will take them beating the teams directly in front of them like Duke and that team from South Bend, and surprising a few others that maybe they weren’t supposed to beat like Wake Forest, Miami, and NC State, combined with other losses by those teams in their final few ACC series. A longshot to be sure, but a shot none the less. So, what do I think about this weekend? First of all, I really do believe Tuesday’s game was a big moment in the Eagles’ season. That’s not to say that it will serve as a turning point from which BC will go on a 24-0 run and qualify for the NCAA tournament, but it is was big in the sense that it kept the team from submitting. It would’ve been all too easy for them to look at the scoreboard in the fifth inning, see that they were trailing Harvard by three, and pack it in, thereby conceding that that would be the way their season would end up. Instead, they fought back, scoring six runs over the final four innings to take the contest 8-5. Again, I know it was a midweek game against Harvard, but that kind of fight is indicative to me of what we can expect from this team moving forward. No matter the score, their record, who they’re playing, etc., they will come to play until the last out is recorded. Because of that, I’ll make a bold prediction: the Eagles take this series in Durham, two games to one. Without getting into specifics, I think BC heads back to Boston on Sunday night with new life, though still long odds, in the hunt for the postseason (ACC that is), with a huge week ahead of them consisting of a matchup at Dartmouth, the Beanpot Championship against Harvard at Fenway, and a big, winnable series against NC State with the Annual ALS Awareness Game on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.