After opening the new Brighton Stadium on Tuesday afternoon with a marathon 18-inning loss to Northeastern, the Boston College Eagles return to action this weekend as they take on Virginia Tech in their first home conference series of the season. The Hokies enter the series one game better than BC in conference, sitting at an even 3-3 after two weekends, adding extra intrigue to the match-up, as the winning team will put themselves in a good spot in the ACC to start the year.
Brighton Stadium, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Friday, March 23rd @ 4pm ET vs. Virginia Tech
Saturday, March 24th @ 2pm ET vs. Virginia Tech
Sunday, March 25th @ 12pm ET vs. Virginia Tech
Fri: BC: Jr. RHP Jacob Stevens (3-2, 2.63 ERA) vs. VT: Sr. RHP Conor Coward (1-2, 3.24 ERA)
Sat: BC: Jr. LHP Dan Metzdorf (0-3, 7.85 ERA) vs. VT: Fr. LHP Ian Seymour (2-1, 4.08 ERA)
Sun: BC: Sr. RHP Brian Rapp (2-1, 3.54 ERA) vs. VT: TBA
How to Watch/Listen:
All three games of this weekend’s series against Virginia Tech will be covered on Gametracker, as well as broadcast online via WZBC Radio. Links to both options can be found on the schedule page of Boston College baseball at BCEagles.com.
What you should know about the Virginia Tech Hokies:
First year head-coach John Szefc has his Virginia Tech club off to a 9-10 start, after a successful few years at the University of Maryland that saw him lead the Terrapins to three NCAA tournaments, including two Super Regional appearances. After taking two of three from Pittsburgh during their first conference weekend, the Hokies dropped a pair of contests last weekend to Georgia Tech, evening their ACC record at 3-3. They come to Chestnut Hill looking to make a big jump in the conference standings, as they finished last season last in the Coastal Division with only nine victories.
On the mound this weekend, the Eagles will face one very experienced arm in Friday night starter Connor Coward, and one inexperienced starter in freshman Ian Seymour. Coward, a senior righty from Pittsburgh, PA, comes into this weekend’s action with a record of 1-2 and an earned run average of 3.24 in 33.1 innings pitched. While his record may not reflect it, Coward has thrown well this season, as he’s struck out 40 batters and held opposing lineups to an even .200 batting average. In six appearances this season, Seymour, a native of Westborough, MA, has accumulated a record of 2-1 and is giving up an average of 4.08 earned runs per game. The Hokies’ Saturday starter is holding opponents to a .198 batting average, but is also second on the VT staff in walks, having issued 12 of them on the season. Virginia Tech has yet to announce a starter for Sunday’s finale, but could throw a number of different pitchers that day, depending on bullpen usage during the first two games of the series.
Offensively, Virginia Tech is very similar to Boston College, sporting a team batting average of .276, with three players over the .300 mark. Leading the way at the plate is infielder Tom Stoffel. The redshirt senior is batting a team-high .354 on the season, with six doubles, two triples, two home runs, and a team-leading 13 RBI. Behind Stoffel is catcher Luke Horanski. The redshirt junior is hitting at a .316 clip and has added six doubles, a pair of home runs, and 11 RBI in 17 starts this season. Rounding out the top three is redshirt junior infielder Nick Owens who is batting .306 with a pair of doubles and five runs batted in this season.
What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:
Head Coach Mike Gambino’s Eagles were a breath away from taking their first two conference series of the year against two ranked opponents, however, an NC State home run in the bottom of the eighth and a blown two-run lead in the tenth against Virginia, have BC sitting at 2-4 in the ACC as they open up their home conference schedule. The Eagles would love to sweep this series and jump right into the mix of things in the Atlantic division, before heading to Clemson next weekend.
On the mound, the Eagles will again feature the trio of Jacob Stevens, Dan Metzdorf, and Brian Rapp this weekend and will look for all three to repeat the performances they put on last week at Virginia. Though Stevens and Rapp threw incredibly well against the Cavaliers, it was Metzdorf who may have turned the most heads on the weekend, as he held UVA to a single run in a five-inning outing and seemingly found the old form that made him so successful a season ago. BC will need all three to step up this weekend to shut down a Hokies lineup that has given them trouble in the past.
Offensively, Boston College’s numbers have slipped a bit since last weekend, thanks in large part to Tuesday’s 18-inning contest against Northeastern that saw most batters in the BC lineup come to the plate eight times. Still atop most of the Eagles’ offensive categories is senior Jake Palomaki. BC’s everyday shortstop is batting .432 on the year and has added a team-leading ten doubles, a triple, a home run, and 17 RBI. Behind him is freshman outfielder Chris Galland who is batting .429, with five doubles, two triples, and ten runs batted in. Galland is also a perfect 13 for 13 in stolen base attempts this season, good for tops in the ACC. Sophomores Brian Dempsey and Dante Baldelli are also hitting the ball well through the team’s first 17 games, as they are hitting .371 and .319, respectively, while adding a combined six doubles and 20 RBI to the offense.
This is a big series for both teams this weekend. Virginia Tech comes in having already won a series over Pittsburgh and is looking to get above .500 in the ACC in the relatively down Coastal Division. Boston College has played two tough road series to open their conference slate and would like nothing more than to sweep their first ACC series in their new stadium, and thereby give themselves an early season boost in the standings before facing divisional foes like Clemson, Florida State, and Louisville. So, in laymen’s terms, both teams desperately want all three of these games. So, who takes them home? Boston College certainly has the edge in starting pitching this weekend, as Stevens and Rapp have been outstanding so far this year and Metzdorf showed what he is capable of against Virginia. I also think that BC holds the advantage at the plate, as the offense in both conference weekend’s has not been slowed down one bit and actually outscored NC State, one of the best lineups in the country, during that series. So here’s my prediction: It’s very hard to sweep any team, let alone a conference foe in the ultra competitive ACC. However, with the forecast for this weekend calling for temperatures in the low 40s (albeit with a slight chance of snow flurries Sunday morning), I think a good number of fans make it across Commonwealth Avenue to the new stadium to watch the Eagles play, giving them the boost they need to take all three games from the Hokies. BC has knocked around better pitching staffs than what Virginia Tech will feature this weekend and have quieted more potent lineups. It won’t be easy, and the games may be close, but I think Boston College goes 3-0 and takes a massive step forward in the Atlantic Division before heading to Clemson.