After topping the Virginia Tech Hokies two games to one over the weekend, the Boston College baseball team returns to action on Tuesday as they face regional foe, and preseason top-25 team, UConn at the new Brighton Stadium.
Brighton Stadium, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Tuesday, March 27th @ 3pm ET vs. UConn
BC: Jr. RHP Jack Nelson (0-1, 9.90 ERA) vs. UCONN: TBA
How to Watch/Listen:
Tuesday’s game will be covered, as always, on Gametracker, as well as broadcast by 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 UConn Huskies:
Entering into Tuesday’s action, head coach Jim Penders has his UConn Huskies team sitting at 11-9 on the season, including a 1-2 mark in the AAC, after dropping their conference opening series to the University of South Florida, two games to one, over the weekend. Despite their overall record to-date, UConn is a very talented team, with a ton of depth, that was ranked in the preseason top-25.
UConn has not announced a starting pitcher for Tuesday’s contest, but the Eagles will likely face a number of arms on the afternoon. As a team, the Huskies are throwing the ball very well, amassing a team ERA of 4.18 in 157 innings pitched and have held opposing lineups to a .263 average this season. One candidate to get the start against BC is junior Jeff Kersten. The right-hander has started two games for the Huskies so far this year, earning a 4.24 ERA in 17 innings pitched. He doesn’t blow many hitters away, as he’s only recorded eight strikeouts on the season, and is allowing opposing hitters to bat .324 off him, so it is likely the Eagles’ hitters will see some good pitches to hit.
Offensively, the Huskies are batting .262 as a team, but feature five players over the .300 mark and seven who have launched at least one home run this season. Leading the way is junior Thad Phillips who is batting .378 on the year, with four doubles, a home run, and nine RBI. Behind Phillips is senior Troy Stefanski. The outfielder is batting .338 on the season with three doubles, three home runs, and nine RBI. Zac Susi and John Toppa are also hitting the ball well, as the pair are batting .323 and .313, respectively, this season, with a combined 21 RBI. Also, keep an eye on outfielder Issac Feldstein. Though the redshirt senior is batting only .232, he leads the UConn offense with seven home runs and 18 RBI.
What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:
Head coach Mike Gambino’s team is riding high, after winning their first ACC series of the year over the weekend against the Virginia Tech Hokies, two games to one. Entering Tuesday’s match-up with the Huskies, BC has lost its last two midweek contests, dropping a 12-10 decision to Wofford way back on March 7th and losing a heart-breaker to Northeastern 7-4, in 18 innings, last Tuesday.
Though no formal announcement has been made, Boston College is likely to start junior Jack Nelson on the mound against UConn. The righty was the Eagles’ primary midweek starter a season ago and got the nod last week against Northeastern, a game in which he pitched well, allowing one run, on three hits, in three innings pitched. If, for some reason, Nelson is not the starter, look for sophomore Matt Gill to get the call on Tuesday. The big right-hander has pitched well this season, accumulating a 1-1 record in 12.2 innings pitched, with a 3.55 ERA. Whoever gets the start for Boston College will have their hands full with a UConn lineup that is very aggressive and has launched 17 home runs this season.
Offensively, the Eagles have cooled off a bit over the last two weeks, but have still found ways to push runs across the plate. Leading the way, as he has virtually all season, is senior co-captain Jake Palomaki. The Eagles’ everyday shortstop is batting a team-leading .418 through 21 games this season and has added 10 doubles, a triple, two home runs, and a team-leading 19 RBI to the offense. Behind Palomaki is sophomore Brian Dempsey who has turned himself into one of the Eagles’ most consistent hitters, as BC’s second baseman is batting .375 with three doubles and 10 RBI this season. Freshman Chris Galland continues to impress early in his career, as the youngster is hitting .373 through his first 16 collegiate starts and has added five doubles, two triples, 11 RBI, and 13 stolen bases during that time. Sophomore Dante Baldelli is also hitting the ball at a high level this year, as the Eagles’ centerfielder is batting .313 on the season with four doubles, a home run (a walk off grand slam against Virginia Tech), and 14 RBI.
This will be a tough match-up for Boston College. UCONN is a very talented team that has beaten some very good opponents already this season including Georgia Tech, Coastal Carolina, and St. John’s. The Huskies’ offense is, as always, very aggressive and can hit for a lot of power. The key to Tuesday’s contest will be whether or not the Eagles pitching staff can keep the ball down in the zone and deny UConn the “big inning”, part of which entails limiting the number of free bases (i.e. walks and hit-by-pitches) given up throughout the game, which has been an issue at times for BC this season. Offensively, I don’t think the Huskies are going to throw anyone during the midweek that the Eagles’ offense can’t handle. Their ace, left-hander Tim Cate, is reserved solely for the weekends and will not appear against Boston College, meaning BC should have the opportunity to put up some runs. With all of that said, I think this game turns into a slug-fest late, as both teams will go to the bullpen often during the game. However, I really like the way the Eagles’ offense is playing right now, even though the hit totals per game have dropped slightly, and like them to win this important midweek game before heading to Clemson this weekend.