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Birdball Midweek Preview - UMass Lowell

The Eagles will travel up to LeLacheur Park to take on the River Hawks on Tuesday evening

Image courtesy of BCEagles.com
BCEagles.com

After taking one of three games from Miami over the weekend, the Boston College baseball team will return to action on Tuesday when they travel up to Lowell to take on the River Hawks. The two teams were supposed to have met a week ago in Chestnut Hill, but heavy rain prevented that game from being played. This game, however, was already scheduled and is not a make-up of last Tuesday’s contest. Let’s take a closer look at this week’s midweek matchup between BC and UMass Lowell:

Game Location:

LeLacheur Park, Lowell, Massachusetts

Game Time:

Tuesday, May 2nd @ 5pm ET vs. UMass Lowell

Projected Starters:

Tues: BC: So. RHP Jack Nelson (3-1, 2.40) vs. UML: TBA

How to Watch/Listen:

Tuesday’s contest at UMass Lowell will be covered on Gametracker as well as broadcast on WZBC via the TUNEIN Radio App. The game will also be streamed live by the America East Conference. The game will also be carried on WZBC AM for those in the Chestnut Hill area. Links to all coverage options 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 a 10-7 record in the AEC, just three games out of first place, and a 22-18 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 Tuesday, but the game was postponed due to inclement weather and has yet to be rescheduled.

Offensively, UML is hitting .264 as a team, with four everyday players batting over the .300 mark. Outfielder Colby Maiola leads the team with a .348 average, while also adding six homeruns and 35 RBI. Behind the junior are outfielder Chris Sharpe and catcher/infielder Austin Young who are hitting .338 and .313, 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 15 RBI. The River Hawks have nine players on their roster this season who have hit at least one round-tripper, 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 3.65 team-ERA in 40 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 .236 batting average and have struck out 304 of them, but have also issued 170 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 year.

What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:

After dropping the first two games of this past weekend’s series against Miami, Mike Gambino’s Boston College squad responded with an emphatic 9-2 win on Sunday over the Hurricanes. Despite their recent success (8-4 in their last 12 games), with an overall record of 17-24 they’re not in contention for an at large bid to the NCAA tournament. However, as they sit 7-17 in the ACC, they are still very much alive in the hunt for the conference tournament, and though the midweek matchup against UMass Lowell will have no direct bearing on whether or not they make it to Louisville, winning against the Red Hawks would go a long way in keeping momentum going into a tough road series at Wake Forest this weekend.

Offensively, the Eagles have gotten better as the season has gone on. Once hitting close to .220 as a team, BC is now hitting .250 and have been more prone to scoring in bunches than they were earlier this season. One reason for that is the emergence of Gian Martellini as a true power hitter in the middle of the Eagles lineup. The sophomore from Rhode Island is hitting .285 this season with a team-leading 30 RBI. He has also launched a team-high four home runs and is slugging at a .458 clip. Jake Alu has also been a factor in the Eagles’ recent offensive success, as the sophomore is currently batting .328 with seven doubles and 12 RBI. Junior Donovan Casey has been, perhaps, the most consistent BC hitter this season, as he is batting .287 with a pair of homeruns and 17 RBI. Newcomer Jacob Yish has also been a nice shot in the arm for the BC lineup, as the freshman designated hitter is batting .319 in only 13 starts on the season.

Jack Nelson will once again get the ball in Tuesday’s matchup, as the righty has been the Eagles’ de facto midweek starter for much of the season. In his four previous starts, the sophomore has compiled a 3-1 record with a 2.40 ERA and is holding opposing hitters to a .220 batting average. Though he was roughed up in his last outing at Dartmouth, where he gave up three runs in three innings of work, look for him to rebound this week against the River Hawks with a strong performance.

Prediction:

As I mentioned last week in my preview of this same matchup, I think BC is the better team overall. Yes, UML has a better record and better numbers, but, to be frank, the America East Conference is nowhere near the level of competition of the ACC and I think their numbers would plummet drastically if they played the same schedule as the Eagles. With that said, that does not guarantee a win for BC. In fact, I’d say this will be a challenging game for them. The primary reason being that UML’s offense is a power-based, meaning they have a “go-big or go-home” type of approach at the plate, which is something BC has struggled with this season (see the VT series). Also, the River Hawks are pretty good on the mound and don’t beat themselves with errors. I think this one is close, but if Nelson can limit the “big-inning” and keep the baseball in the yard, I believe the Eagles will win. Despite dropping two of three to Miami, this team is still pretty hot and is playing for its postseason life. Granted, this game doesn’t matter as it pertains to the ACC tournament, but BC won’t want to fall to UML and lose some of the momentum they’ll need in Winston Salem next weekend. I’ll take BC in a close game Tuesday night in Lowell.