Continuing with our in-depth look at the Boston College baseball team in preparation for Friday night’s season opener, today we’ll dive into what fans can expect from the Eagles’ offense in 2018.
A year ago, BC hit .253 as a team and scored just shy of five runs-per game. Gone from that team are lineup-cogs, Donovan Casey, Johnny Adams, and Michael Strem, as well as Chris Balogh, who provided a left-handed bat off the bench. Even with those departures, the Eagles should be in good shape at the plate this year, as the three of the top four hitters from last year’s team return in 2018.
After a breakout sophomore campaign, junior switch-hitter Jake Alu returns to the top of the BC lineup and will be counted to help set the table for the middle of the order. In 2017, Alu hit a team-leading .331 on the season, while driving in 23 runs. He’ll again look to get on base for classmate Gian Martellini, BC’s biggest power threat. A season ago, Martellini led the Eagles with five home runs and 35 RBI, while also posting a .302 average, good for second on the team. After a strong summer playing in the Cape Cod League, look for the junior catcher to garner national attention this spring. Joining Alu and Martellini atop the BC lineup for the fourth season will be senior co-captain Jake Palomaki. The Georgia native hit .281 a season ago, while leading the team in walks with 31. Palomaki’s eye at the plate has earned him the top spot in BC’s record books for walks in a single season and walks in a career, and he’ll need to get on base at a similar clip this season for the Eagles offense to find success. Senior Mitch Bigras will likely find a home in the middle of the Eagles’ order, as the 6’6 left-handed hitter enters his third full season in the lineup, and is coming off a 2017 campaign that saw him hit .208 with 28 runs batted in, good for third on the team.
Beyond the quartet of Alu, Martellini, Palomaki, and Bigras, head coach Mike Gambino has plenty of depth at the plate with hitters like Jacob Yish, Brian Dempsey, Anthony Maselli, Dante Baldelli, and Jack Cunningham getting plenty of experience in 2017. Maselli, the lone senior in the group, hit .203 in 59 at bats a year ago, but had a stellar summer campaign in the Coastal Plains League which he’ll look to build off of this spring. Yish, Dempsey, Baldelli, and Cunningham all saw the field often as freshmen in 2017 and combined to drive in 26 runs in 87 combined starts. They’ll each be called upon to expand their roles this spring.
Providing depth in the lineup as possible pinch-hitters will be sophomores Jake Goodreau and Aaron Soucy, as well as freshman Chris Galland. Goodreau and Soucy played sparingly a year ago, backing up Martellini behind the plate, but could see larger roles this spring.
One very positive note for the Eagles in 2018 is the return of redshirt junior Scott Braren, who is healthy after injuring his knee in the eighth game of the season last year. Before going down, Braren was hitting .280 with a double and an RBI and was an everyday presence in the middle of the order. He hit .333 in 2016 with a home run and 16 RBI, and will be counted on to regain that form, possibly as the Eagles’ designated hitter.
The BC lineup has experience and a good mix of place-setters and power hitters. If the offense can continue to improve as it did in the second half of the 2017 season, and if the pitching staff can perform to its potential, the Eagles have a great shot to get back into the postseason for a record third year in a row.
Be sure to check back in this week as we get closer to opening night, for more analysis of the 2018 Boston College baseball team.