After a thrilling weekend sweep of NC State, the Boston College baseball team returns to action this week with a pair of midweek games against regional foes UMass Lowell and Bryant. While Tuesday’s contest against the River Hawks will be within the friendly confines of Shea Field, Wednesday’s tilt will take place in Smithfield, Rhode Island, the home of the Bulldogs. Let’s take a closer look at this week’s midweek action:
Tuesday: Shea Field, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Wednesday: Conaty Park, Bryant University, Smithfield, R.I.
Tuesday, April 25th @ 3pm ET vs. UMass Lowell
Wednesday, April 26th @ 3pm ET vs. Bryant
Tuesday: BC: So. RHP Jack Nelson (3-1, 2.40 ERA) vs. UML: TBA
Wednesday: BC: TBA vs. BU: TBA
How to Watch/Listen:
Both of this week’s midweek games will be covered on Gametracker, as well as streamed on the TUNEIN Radio App via WZBC. The games can also be heard on WZBC AM for those in the Chestnut Hill area. Links to both can be found on the baseball schedule page of BCEagles.com.
What you should know about the UMass Lowell River Hawks:
Head Coach Ken Harring has his River Hawks squad in contention for the America East Conference title, as they enter Tuesday’s game with an 8-6 record in the AEC and a 20-16 mark overall. 2017 marks only UML’s fourth season in Division I, as they made the transition from Division II in 2014. The River Hawks and Eagles were scheduled to play last season in mid-April, but the game was postponed due to inclement weather and never rescheduled.
Offensively, UML is hitting .244 as a team, with three everyday players batting over the .300 mark. Outfielder Colby Maiola leads the team with a .341 average, while also adding six homeruns and 33 RBI. Behind the junior are outfielder Chris Sharpe and catcher/infielder Austin Young who are hitting .338 and .305, respectively. Sharpe, a sophomore, leads the team in homeruns with seven and Young, a redshirt-freshman, has added two long-balls of his own to go along with 13 RBI. The River Hawks have nine players on their roster this season who have hit at least one round-tripper on the year, so BC’s pitching staff will need to be very careful on Tuesday not to leave pitches up in the zone.
On the mound, UML has been very good, accumulating a 3.76 team-ERA in 36 games played this season. While they have not announced a starter for Tuesday’s contest, it’s a good bet the Eagles will face a talented arm, as all but four pitchers on the River Hawks’ staff have sub-five ERAs. As a team, UML pitchers limit opposing batters to a .240 batting average and have struck out 270 of them, but have issued 153 walks on the season. Despite that statistic, the UMass Lowell pitching staff will present a challenge for a BC lineup which has struggled to plate runs at times this season.
What you should know about the Bryant Bulldogs:
Head Coach Steve Owen’s Bryant team is a bit of a mystery in 2017. Though they sit atop the NEC with a 10-4 record, most recently splitting a four-game set with Central Connecticut State, they’re only 17-21 overall, and have gone a combined 7-17 against “outside” competition coming into Wednesday’s game against BC.
Offensively, the Bulldogs are hitting .252 as a team and feature only one everyday player over the .300 mark. Catcher Mickey Gasper is that lone player, as the junior is hitting a team-leading .328 on the year with six homeruns and 36 RBI, both team highs, while starting 37 games this season. Behind Gasper is outfielder Nick Angelini who is batting a solid .298 on the season, while starting every game for the Bulldogs. The sophomore has also added four homeruns and 19 RBI in 141 at bats this season. Also, keep an eye on freshman Chris Wright. Though the do-everything first-year player is only hitting .264, he has played in every game this season and is third on the team with three homeruns and second on the team with 23 RBI.
On the mound, Bryant’s pitchers have recorded a team-ERA of 5.11 through 38 games this season and have allowed opposing hitters to bat at a .252 clip. Just as with UML, Bryant has not announced their starter for Wednesday, but it’s a good bet that the Eagles will want to be patient at the plate, as the Bulldogs have issued 201 walks on the season, as opposed to 265 strikeouts. This means that, more than likely, some of the pitchers they will face on Wednesday will have control issues, and will look to get BC’s hitters to chase pitches out of the zone. The Eagles will need to be disciplined and selectively aggressive to fastballs in the strike-zone in order to leave Rhode Island with a win.
What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:
Head Coach Mike Gambino and the Eagles are coming off their best weekend of the season to-date, having swept the NC State Wolfpack in Boston by a combined score of 11-4. The three wins included an 8-3 victory over the ‘Pack at Fenway Park on Saturday in the 6th Annual ALS Awareness Game which drew nearly four thousand spectators. The sweep also has put BC squarely back into the race for the ACC Tournament at the end of the regular season. The Eagles are hoping the success they’ve enjoyed over the last two weeks will carry over to the rest of the season which includes this week’s matchups with UMass Lowell and Bryant.
Offensively, BC has continued to slowly raise its batting average since the midway point of the season, as it now sits at .246. Leading the way for the Eagles is sophomore Jake Alu who is batting .336 after entering the starting lineup a few weeks into the season. The utility player has also added six doubles and 12 RBI in 29 starts on the year. Two-way standout player Donovan Casey is hitting a solid .289 on the season with two homeruns and 16 RBI, as well as earning a team-leading 2.00 ERA on the mound in 13 appearances. Gian Martellini continues to have a solid year behind the plate and at it, as the catcher is hitting an even .275, while leading the team with three homeruns and 23 RBI. Freshman Jacob Yish has also come on strong since being inserted into the lineup two weeks ago, as the outfielder/designated hitter has 12 hits in 36 at bats for a .333 average.
On the mound, the Eagles will look to sophomore Jack Nelson to tame the UML River Hawks on Tuesday. The right-hander has been very good during the midweek, accumulating a 3-1 record to go along with a 2.40 ERA in his starting role. Wednesday, however, will more than likely be a staff day for the Eagles who sport a 5.26 team-ERA and allow opposing hitters to bat .262 off of them. Much like Bryant, walks have been a problem for the BC staff, as they’ve given up 177 free passes on the season. They’ll need to focus on pounding the strike zone on both Tuesday and Wednesday if they want to earn two more wins heading into their home ACC series with Miami.
Well, it seems like BC is on a little bit of a roll. Although the game was halted in the fifth, the Eagles were winning the Beanpot last Wednesday and parlayed that performance into a series-sweep of ACC-foe NC State over the weekend. However, I caution the team that being “hot” won’t be enough to win this week’s pair of games. UMass Lowell is a very good team. They hit for a lot of power (something BC has struggled against all season) and they pitch it very well. Bryant is having a down year outside of the NEC, but Smithfield is one of those tough places to play because it lulls you to sleep a little bit to the point where you wake up and it’s the top of the eighth and you’re down by a few runs. So, with that being the case, nothing can be taken for granted this week if you’re BC. You need to go in with the mindset that these are the most important games of the season to-date because, if they want to reach .500 for the year (which should be one of their goals along with making the ACC tourney), they need to win nearly every midweek game the rest of the way. I like the matchup of Jack Nelson against UML. Though he may give up more runs than he usually does, I think he keeps BC in the game long enough for them to scratch across just enough runs to get the win. I also think BC is a much better team than Bryant across the board, and think the Eagles take advantage of some shaky pitching from the Bulldogs to get the win on the road. A 2-0 midweek would be a great boost heading into this weekend’s Super Regional rematch against Miami.