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Boston College Baseball ACC Tournament Preview - Game Two: North Carolina

The Eagles and Tar Heels met in early April, with UNC taking all three games by a combined score of 48-14

Image courtesy of BCEagles.com
BCEagles.com

After falling to NC State 6-1 in their first tournament game on Tuesday, the Boston College baseball team will look to bounce back and end their season with a win on Wednesday afternoon, as they take on the #2 seed in the tournament, and #2/3 ranked team in the nation, the North Carolina Tar Heels. This will be the second and final pool-play game for the Eagles at the 2017 ACC Baseball Championship. Let’s take a closer look at this matchup:

Game Location:

Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY

Game Time:

Wednesday, May 24rd @ 3pm ET vs. UNC

Projected Starters:

Wed: BC: So. LHP Dan Metzdorf (4-5, 4.64 ERA) vs. UNC: Fr. RHP Tyler Baum (5-0, 2.75 ERA)

How to Watch/Listen:

Every game of the 2017 ACC Tournament will be broadcast nationally on the RSN family of networks, with Sunday’s Championship Game being broadcast on ESPN2. As part of that lineup, Wednesday’s contest between the Eagles and Tar Heels will be broadcast on NESN Plus, as well as streamed online on ACCN Extra via the WatchESPN App. The game will also be covered on Gametracker. Links to both online coverage options can be found on the baseball schedule page of BCEagles.com.

What you should know about the North Carolina Tar Heels:

Head Coach Mike Fox has his Tar Heels club rolling as they head into their first game in the ACC Tournament on Wednesday, having earned a 44-11 overall record, including a 23-7 mark in the ACC, and a top-three ranking in both major polls. UNC is team that will most certainly earn a national seed and host a regional in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, and is a top contender to reach Omaha. The Eagles and Tar Heels did meet during the regular season, with UNC taking all three games in Chestnut Hill by a combined score of 48-14.

Offensively, Carolina is hitting .280 as a team and boasts four everyday players batting above .300. Leading the Tar Heels at the plate is ACC Freshman of the Year Ashton McGee. McGee, the Heels’ second baseman, is hitting .339 for the year with six homeruns and 39 RBI. He also leads the team with a .430 on-base percentage, thanks in large part to the 32 walks he’s drawn this season. Behind McGee, is All-ACC First Team-er Logan Warmoth who is batting .336 with nine homers and 40 RBI while starting every game for UNC this season at shortstop. Carolina boasts another First Team All-ACC selection in outfielder Brian Miller. Miller, a junior, is also hitting .336 on the season and has launched six homeruns and plated 44 Tar Heel baserunners. Sophomore outfielder Brandon Riley is also having a nice year for the Heels, as he is hitting .307 to-date, with six home runs and a team-best 45 RBI. Boston College’s pitching staff has their work cut out for them against a UNC lineup that torched them for double-digit runs in each game of their three-game series in April.

On the mound, North Carolina has been one of the best teams in the ACC all season, logging a 2.89 team-ERA, while allowing opposing lineups to bat only .221 against them. Getting the nod in Wednesday’s contest will be righthander Tyler Baum. The freshman has been UNC’s primary midweek starter this season and has excelled in that role to the tune of a 5-0 record and a 2.75 ERA. Baum won’t wow opposing hitters with his size (6’1, 171 lbs.), but he can run his fastball up into the mid-90’s and complements it with a curveball that is sharp at times, and a change-up that has good fade action to lefthanders. In short, the youngster has some pretty good stuff and, by all accounts, knows how to use it. What can get a guy like Baum into trouble are his off-speed pitches. If they aren’t getting over for strikes, or he just doesn’t have a feel for them on Wednesday, he’ll become one dimensional with his fastball, making it that much easier for the BC lineup to hone in on him.

What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:

With the new tournament format and rules, Boston College’s loss on Tuesday to NC State sealed their season fate, as the Eagles cannot advance out of pool play. Even so, they’ll look to end the season on an extremely high note, with a win over UNC on Wednesday. Offensively, players like Jake Alu, Gian Martellini, Donovan Casey, and Jake Palomaki will need to have big games against the Tar Heel pitching staff, if they’re going to do it.

Getting the ball on Wednesday for the Eagles will be lefthander Dan Metzdorf who has enjoyed a solid season in his first year in the starting rotation, earning a 4-5 record and 4.64 ERA in 77.2 innings pitched. While there were outings this year in which he looked unhittable, the April 9th matchup with UNC was not one of them, as the sophomore was tagged for five runs (four of them earned) on six hits in only 2.1 innings of work. Granted, no one threw well against UNC that weekend, but Metzdorf will need to bring his A-game on Wednesday to shut down the potent Tar Heel lineup. The lefty won’t overpower anyone with his fastball, but he can be very effective when he mixes his pitches, particularly his slider, and when he has no fear of going in on the hands of righties. He’ll also need to do a good job of bearing down with two outs, bearing on hitters to get out of innings.

Prediction:

I won’t sugarcoat it: this is going to be a tough game to win. Not impossible, but tough. Carolina is one of the very best teams in the nation and, given what happened earlier this season, they seem to have the Eagles’ number. I do have to say one thing in regard to UNC’s decision to start Tyler Baum on Wednesday, though: it seems like an inadvertent slap in the face to Boston College. Hear me out. I understand the logic behind Mike Fox’s decision to throw the freshman: use your “fourth” starter in your perceived easiest game in order to save your entire weekend rotation for the final three games of the tournament, which, in theory, will be more challenging. But, if I’m Boston College, I’m looking at Baum and thinking, “So, you think we’re not worthy of one of your best guys, huh?” It could be used as a piece of bulletin board material for the Eagles. Now, none of this is to say that Baum isn’t a good pitcher, as his statistics this year put that argument to rest. I’m just saying that his start in a game that would carry huge implications if UNC were to lose, may rub BC the wrong way. In a way, it’s almost as if UNC is saying, “We won’t lose this game,” which may tick-off a few players in the Boston College dugout. Again, I won’t make an outright pick in this game, but I will say, win or lose, I think it will be much closer than any of the three games in April. I think BC will actually hit Baum pretty hard and Metzdorf will have a solid outing on the mound.