After opening the season a week ago with two wins in three games against Santa Clara, the Boston College baseball team is back in action this weekend, as they take on Minnesota, Indiana, and Rutgers in the 2018 Snowbird Classic. This will mark the third year in a row that the Eagles have taken part in the event which is played in Port Charlotte, Florida.
North Charlotte Regional Park, Port Charlotte, Florida
Friday, February 23rd @ 2pm ET vs. Minnesota
Saturday, February 24th @ 12pm ET vs. Indiana
Sunday, February 25th @ 11am ET vs. Rutgers
Friday: BC: Jr. RHP Jacob Stevens (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. MINN: TBA
Saturday: BC: Jr. LHP Dan Metzdorf (0-0, 27.00 ERA) vs. IU: TBA
Sunday: BC: Sr. RHP Brian Rapp (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RU: TBA
How to Watch/Listen:
Fans can follow all three games of the Snowbird Classic on Gametracker, links to which can be found on the schedule page of Boston College baseball at BCEagles.com.
What you should know about the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers:
Entering his 36th season as the head baseball coach at the University of Minnesota, John Anderson again has himself a very talented and experienced team. In 2017, the Golden Gophers were among the biggest snubs from the NCAA Tournament field, after finishing the year 36-21 and third in the Big Ten Conference. So far in 2018, Minnesota has a record of 2-2, after beating Kennesaw State two times last weekend and dropping a game apiece to Georgia Tech and Georgia State. Despite the early losses, they do return a bevy of talented position players and a deep pitching staff.
Though not formally announced yet, on the mound Friday night, Minnesota will likely feature Reggie Meyer, who started in the same spot for the Gophers last weekend, losing a 3-2 game against Georgia Tech. On the year, the redshirt-junior has a record of 0-1 and an ERA of 4.50. The Eagles will have their work cut out for them as Meyer will likely challenge them early and often on Friday night.
At the plate, Minnesota boasts a bevy of talented hitters. Leading the way in the early part of the season is Eli Wilson. The sophomore catcher/infielder leads the team through four games with an even .500 average and has recorded an RBI. Behind Wilson is senior infielder Luke Petterson who is hitting .400 on the young season, with two doubles and four RBI. Perhaps the biggest power threat the Gophers feature is Jordan Kozicky, who is batting .375 through four games, and has already launched a pair of homeruns and recorded a team-high five RBI. Also, keep an eye on senior Toby Hanson, who is also off to a good start to the year, hitting .357 with a pair of doubles and four runs batted in. The Minnesota lineup is full of good hitters and will pose a tough early season assignment for the Boston College pitching staff.
What you should know about the Indiana University Hoosiers:
Head coach Chris Lemonis’ Hoosiers will be the first of many ranked opponents Boston College will face during the 2018 campaign, as Indiana enters this weekend’s action at #20 in both major college baseball polls. A year ago, Indiana made the NCAA Tournament, participating in the Lexington, Kentucky Regional, after finishing the season 34-24-2 and sixth in the Big Ten. There are, once again, lofty expectations in Bloomington and, so far, the Hoosiers have gotten off on the right foot, as they enter the Snowbird Classic with a record of 3-1. Last weekend they defeated Kansas State, Coastal Carolina, and #21 South Alabama, while falling to Oklahoma. Indiana will face Rutgers on Friday in Port Charlotte, before taking on the Eagles Saturday.
On Saturday, BC will likely face right-hander Pauly Milto, though the starter has yet to be formally revealed. The junior is off to a fantastic start to the 2018 season, as he sports a 1-0 record and a 0.00 ERA. In his lone start of the season, the 6’3 righty went six shutout innings against Kansas State, allowing only a single hit before being pulled. Milto was also a standout performer for Indiana last year, as he took home All-Big 10 Third Team honors. Seeing that caliber of pitcher early in the season will be beneficial for the Eagles, as they will face talented arms throughout their conference slate.
Offensively, the Hoosiers enter this weekend’s action with a team batting average of .236, with three everyday players batting over .300. Through four games, outfielder Logan Sowers leads the team with a .438 batting average in 16 at bats. The senior also leads the team in homeruns, with two. Following Sowers is junior catcher Ryan Fineman. Fineman, in three starts this season, is hitting .417 with an RBI. Perhaps the most versatile hitter in the Indiana lineup is outfielder Logan Kaletha. The junior is batting .357 through four games, but has also recorded a double, triple, and a home run to go along with a team-leading six RBI. While the rest of the Hoosier lineup’s numbers may be down to start the season, they are a very talented team and could explode for a lot of runs very quickly.
What you should know about the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights:
Coming off a 2017 season in which he guided his team to a 19-34 record, head coach John Litterio and Rutgers opened up 2018 at one of the hardest places in the nation to play: the University of Miami. While the Hurricanes did take the first two games of the series, the Scarlet Knights were able to take Sunday’s rubber match against Jim Morris’ club and leave opening weekend on a high note.
The Eagles will likely face the starter from Sunday’s win, left-hander Harry Rutkowski. Rutkowski, a freshman, only lasted four innings against the ‘Canes and gave up five runs, though, only three were earned. On the year, the Fords, NJ native has accumulated a 6.75 ERA and three strikeouts.
As a team, the Scarlet Knights are hitting only .200 through three games this year and feature two players hitting over .300. Leading the way at the plate for Rutgers is infielder Dan DiGeorgio with a .444 batting average in nine at bats. The redshirt-freshman has also recorded a double and an RBI in three starts this season. Behind DiGeorgio is true freshman Mike Nyisztor who, in only two starts on the year, is batting .333. While his stats may not jump off the page right now, watch out for Scarlet Knights’ catcher Nick Matera. He was a preseason All-Big Ten Team honoree and was an All-Big Ten Third Team performer in 2017. Rutgers will play Indiana on Friday and St. Bonaventure on Saturday, before taking on the Eagles Sunday.
What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:
After taking two of three from Santa Clara last weekend, head coach Mike Gambino and his Boston College team head to Florida looking to build off the momentum from that series win against three quality opponents.
The weekend rotation should look exactly the same as it has since the midpoint of the 2017 season, with junior righty Jacob Stevens taking the mound on Friday, junior lefty Dan Metzdorf getting the call on Saturday, and senior Brian Rapp, the reigning ACC Pitcher of the Week, getting the nod in Sunday’s finale. Both Stevens and Rapp threw exceedingly well in their starts versus the Broncos, each earning wins and not allowing an earned run. Metzdorf struggled in his start last weekend and will face another tough opponent in Indiana on Saturday. The bullpen had some outstanding performers against SC, as Sean Hughes, Thomas Lane, Carmen Giampetruzzi, Jack Hodgson, and Joey Walsh combined to throw 9.2 innings, while only allowing a single unearned run. Expect that group of relievers to see extended action this weekend.
Coming out of opening weekend, the Eagles sport a .277 team batting average and have four everyday players above the .300 mark. Leading the charge is outfielder Dante Baldelli. Baldelli, a sophomore, leads the team with a .462 average and has recorded a double and four RBI. He’ll look to keep that hot streak going against some good competition this weekend. Behind Baldelli is senior co-captain Jake Palomaki who is hitting .429 on the season with Boston College’s lone home run and a team-leading six RBI. Brian Dempsey and Jack Cunningham also are off to great starts in their sophomore campaigns, as their pair are hitting .300 and .333 respectively, while starting all three games a week ago. The BC lineup will face much better pitching this weekend and will need the bottom half of the order to step up if they want to come out of the Snowbird Classic with some wins.
The 2018 Snowbird Classic is a great early season test for this Boston College team. With no offense intended toward Santa Clara, who hung 20 runs on the Eagles on Saturday, this weekend’s lineup of three Big Ten teams is going to be much tougher for BC to navigate. The key to this weekend, as I suspect will be the key to most weekends this season, will be pitching. Can Boston College string together three quality starts in a row? They came close last weekend, with gems from Stevens and Rapp, but stumbled as a staff on Saturday and got hammered. The same thing will happen this weekend, against better teams, if the Eagles’ pitchers struggle to find the strike zone consistently. Offensively, I’ll be interested to see how the lineup fairs against two really good pitching staffs in Minnesota and Indiana, and if they can take advantage of a young arm like Rutkowski on Sunday. My prediction is the Eagles come away from Port Charlotte with at least two wins. Earning a series sweep is hard enough when you’re playing the same team three times, but it’s even harder when facing three different lineups and three different pitching staffs with scouting reports changing on a daily basis. Regardless of the outcome, this weekend will give fans good insight into this year’s team and an idea of what we can expect from them as they make their way toward conference play.