Having played eleven non-conference games in the three weeks since opening day, the Boston College baseball team is finally opening up ACC play this weekend, as they travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to take on the red-hot NC State Wolfpack in a three game series. The Eagles come into the weekend’s action with an overall record of 5-6, having split a pair of contests this week against UNC Asheville and Wofford.
Doak Field, NC State, Raleigh, North Carolina
Friday, March 9th @ 3pm ET vs. NC State
Saturday, March 10th @ 2pm ET vs. NC State
Sunday, March 11th @ 1pm ET vs. NC State
Fri: BC: Jr. RHP Jacob Stevens (2-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Sr. LHP Brian Brown (3-0, 0.50 ERA)
Sat: BC: Jr. LHP Dan Metzdorf (0-1, 8.71 ERA) vs. R-Sr. RHP Johnny Piedmonte (2-0, 3.38 ERA)
Sun: BC: Sr. RHP Brian Rapp (1-1, 4.70 ERA) vs. Fr. LHP David Harrison (0-1, 4.91 ERA)
How to Watch/Listen:
There are a handful of ways to follow this weekend’s action in Raleigh. As always, all three games will be available on Gametracker, however, the entire series is also being broadcast on both NC State’s radio network and the ACC Sports Network via the WatchESPN app. Links to all three options can be found on the schedule page for Boston College baseball at BCEagles.com
What you should know about the NC State Wolfpack:
Entering his 22nd season at the helm of the NC State baseball program, head coach Elliott Avent, again, has a very talented and veteran ball club that has absolutely torn through the early part of its schedule. Coming into this weekend’s action, the Wolfpack sit at 11-2 with series wins over Seton Hall and Furman and a host of victories against regional opponents.
On the mound this weekend, NC State will feature two familiar faces and one newbie in their rotation. Taking the ball on Friday afternoon will be senior Brian Brown. The left-hander comes into the series with a a record of 3-0 and boasts a 0.50 ERA in 18 innings pitched. Brown also has an excellent strike out to walk ratio, as he’s fanned 20 batters this season and only given up five free passes. On Saturday, The Eagles will face redshirt-senior Johnny Piedmonte, who comes in with a 2-0 record and 3.38 earned run average. The 6’8 lefty has held opponents to a combined .197 batting average and has recorded 13 strikeouts on the year. Sunday’s rubber-match will likely see touted freshman David Harrison get the nod. On the year, the southpaw is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 complete innings. While he does boast a 3-to-1 strike out to walk ratio, opposing lineups are batting .304 off the youngster, so it stands to reason that the Eagles should see plenty of pitches to hit.
Coming into the series, NC State leads the conference, and rank tenth nationally, with a .338 team batting average and feature a whopping seven everyday players over the .300 mark. Leading the way is Golden Spikes Award candidate Brett Kinneman. The junior outfielder is batting a team-leading .455 and has belted eight home runs so far this season, good for tops in the ACC and the nation. Kinneman has also driven in 25 Wolfpack runs in his team’s first 13 games. Behind him sits junior Evan Edwards who’s batting .394 with five home runs and 12 RBI. Rounding out the top three hitters in the NC State lineup is outfielder Brock Deatherage. The senior is batting .380 on the year with two doubles, a triple, four homers, and nine runs batted in. Beyond that trio are still four other everyday players hitting the ball at a very high level. Needless to say, the NC State offense will pose a difficult assignment for the BC pitching staff this weekend.
What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:
After letting a great opportunity to roll into Raleigh riding a two-game midweek sweep slip away in the bottom of the sixth on Wednesday, Boston College enters conference play with a record of 5-6. Head coach Mike Gambino and his Eagles team have shown flashes of brilliance this season but have struggled to put together complete performances night-in and night-out. They’ll need to do just that this weekend against the Pack.
The Eagles will feature their standard weekend rotation against NC State, with junior righty Jacob Stevens going Friday, junior lefty Dan Metzdorf pitching Saturday, and senior right-hander Brian Rapp taking the hill in Sunday’s finale. Stevens and Rapp have had dominant outings already this season and need to channel those performances against one of the best lineups in the nation. Metzdorf, it seems, has yet to find the groove that made him so effective on Saturday’s a year ago. A key for him this weekend will be limit free-bases, as he leads the team with six walks on the season.
Offensively, the Eagles came alive during the midweek, scoring 18 combined runs in their two games and upping their team average to just below .300. Leading that charge are a pair of BC players at opposite ends of their careers. Senior co-captain Jake Palomaki has been tearing the cover off the ball recently, as the Eagles’ shortstop is batting .396 on year with six doubles, a triple, a home run, and 10 RBI. While Palomaki is in his fourth year starting for Boston College, freshman Chris Galland is entering just his fourth weekend on the team, yet leads the squad, and the nation, with a .583 batting average. Granted, that number may be a little inflated due to the fact that he’s only started six games, but it’s clear the young man is a player, as he’s recorded 14 hits in his first 24 collegiate at-bats. Galland has also added four doubles and eight RBI to go along with a perfect 7 for 7 mark in stolen bases. Also having great starts to the season are sophomores Brian Dempsey and Jack Cunningham who are hitting .421 and .342, respectively, and have combined for 11 runs batted in.
And so it begins. ACC play. It’s not considered the best baseball conference in the country for nothing, and the Eagles will feel that weight every weekend from now until the end of May, starting this Friday against a very good NC State team. Obviously, the thing that jumps off the page about the Wolfpack is their offense. Granted, Doak Field can play exceedingly small, and 12 of NC State’s first 13 games have been played there, but you don’t hit 27 home runs as a team in your first three weeks of the season, without having some legitimate pop. What that means is BC’s pitchers, including its bullpen, which has been inconsistent this year, need to keep the ball down in the zone and avoid free bases at all costs. It’s highly likely the Wolfpack go yard multiple times this weekend, but if those homers are solo-shots and not three-run dingers, the damage will be limited. As for Boston College’s approach at the plate, I think they need to keep the same mentality they had this week versus UNC Asheville and Wofford. Though NC State will feature better arms, having an aggressive, hunt-the-fastball, approach at the dish will benefit the Eagles against a pitching staff they have dominated over the past four years. That’s right; the Wolfpack are a lowly 3-8 against BC in the last four years combined, including a series sweep last season that included an 8-3 loss at Fenway park in the 6th Annual ALS Awareness Game. Which is why the Pack’s gaudy offensive numbers don’t scare me as much as they probably should. While winning any ACC series on the road is tough, I think the Eagles’ offense is swinging the bat with a lot of confidence and will jump all over Harrison on Sunday and Stevens will out-duel Brown on Friday for a conference-opening series win. Let’s get it started.