After taking both games a doubleheader against Quinnipiac this past Saturday in a rain-shortened series, the Boston College baseball team will look to close out its non-conference schedule with a win against Maine on Tuesday afternoon at Shea Field. The Eagles and Black Bears were scheduled to meet last season, but rain cancelled that contest. However, the two teams did meet in 2015, with Boston College coming away with a 12-0 victory at home. Let’s take a closer look at Tuesday’s matchup:
Shea Field, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Tuesday, May 16th @ 4pm ET vs. Maine
Tues: BC: So. RHP Jack Nelson (4-1, 2.06 ERA) vs. MAINE: TBA
How to Watch/Listen:
What you need to know about the Maine Black Bears:
Interim Head Coach Nick Derba and the Maine Black Bears have endured a tough 2017 season, as they enter Tuesday’s game with an overall record of 20-24, with four wins coming against non-Division I opponents, and a 7-10 record in the America East Conference. Maine has actually fared very well at home, as they have amassed a season record of 13-3 when playing in Orono, but are a paltry 1-17 when playing true road games.
Offensively, Maine is batting .265 as a team and the lineup features only one everyday player hitting above .300. That player for the Black Bears is catcher Christopher Bec who is batting a robust .352 while starting every game this season. The junior has also added 16 doubles, a homerun, and 23 RBI, while only striking out 16 times in 162 at bats. Behind Bec is infielder Jeremy Pena. Pena, a sophomore, is batting .296 on the year and has launched four homeruns and driven in 27 runs. The biggest power threat in the Maine lineup is outfielder Tyler Schwanz who is only batting .268, but leads the team in homeruns, with six, and runs batted in, with 32. Though Maine’s lineup may look docile on paper, the Boston College pitching staff will want to be careful around the heart of their order, as the Black Bear’s three, four, and five hitters can do some damage.
On the mound, the Maine pitching staff has accumulated a 5.22 team-ERA this season and have allowed opposing hitters to bat .266 off them. Though Maine has yet to announce a starter for Tuesday’s game, one candidate to get the ball for the Black Bears is freshman Trevor DeLaite. The lefthander has appeared in eight games this season, four of them starts, and has amassed a 2-3 record to go along with a 5.96 ERA. Through 22.2 innings this season, DeLaite has struck out 21 batters, but also issued 21 walks. If he is Maine’s starting pitcher on Tuesday, the BC lineup should be patient, as DeLaite’s season stats indicate that he has trouble finding the strike zone at times.
What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:
While Tuesday’s non-conference tilt will have no bearing on it, Head Coach Mike Gambino has his Eagles squarely in the hunt for a berth in the postseason. However, before the Eagles, who are 21-26 overall, can think about defeating Notre Dame this weekend, they’ll need to focus their attention on the visiting Maine Black Bears.
Offensively, the Eagles used an explosive Saturday doubleheader-sweep of Quinnipiac to raise their team average to .251 for the season. Leading the charge for BC is utility player Jake Alu who leads the team in batting with a .320 average, while adding seven doubles and 16 RBI. Right behind Alu is Boston College’s hottest hitter, catcher Gian Martellini. The sophomore has used the past month to raise his average to .314, while belting a team-leading five homeruns and driving in 33 Eagle baserunners. Martellini is also currently in the middle of a 14-game hitting streak, the longest of his career. Two-way standout Donovan Casey has also been hitting the ball well as of late, as the junior has upped his average to .282, while starting every game this season for the Eagles. Also, junior infielder Jake Palomaki made history over the weekend, as he walked for the 115th time to lead off game one on Saturday afternoon, moving him into sole possession of first place in career walks in the Boston College record book.
On the mound, Boston College has lowered its team-ERA to 5.06 and limits opposing hitters to a .259 batting average. Taking the ball for the Eagles on Tuesday will be usual midweek starter Jack Nelson. The sophomore righthander has been stellar this season after moving into the midweek role, going 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA in 35 innings pitched. Look for Gambino and to limit the staff’s pitch-count on Tuesday, as every arm will need to be available this weekend when BC hosts Notre Dame in the most important conference series of the season.
As I mentioned this weekend in the preview of the Quinnipiac series, even though everyone is hyped-up about the Notre Dame series, the Eagles need to relax and focus on Maine on Tuesday. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but, as a player, you should want as much momentum as possible going into the series with the Irish, and losing on Tuesday to an inferior Maine team would definitely stymie the flow of positivity heading into Thursday. And, make no mistake, BC should win this game handily. They may not score a ton of runs, as that isn’t really their game, but Jack Nelson and the Eagles bullpen should hold Maine in check at the plate all afternoon. The BC lineup has found a rhythm and displayed some pop this weekend, belting three homers in game one on Saturday. I think they do much of the same against the Black Bears on Tuesday and win by a score like 6-1 or 5-0. However, I will say, should BC overlook Maine and put forth a less-than-focused performance, don’t be surprised if it’s 2-2 or 3-3 heading into the ninth inning with BC fighting just to scratch out a run to win. I don’t see that happening as Gambino does a nice job of getting his guys focused on the task at hand, but it is a possibility. Nevertheless, I’ll take BC over Maine in the 2017 season’s non-conference finale.