After taking care of business on Tuesday evening versus UMass Lowell, the Boston College baseball team returns to action this weekend as they take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a three game ACC series in South Bend. For those who recall, Notre Dame is led by former BC head coach Mik Aoki, who spent four seasons atop the Eagles’ program before leaving the Heights for South Bend.
Frank Eck Stadium, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
Friday, April 27th @ 6:05 pm ET vs. Notre Dame
Saturday, April 28th @ 2:05 pm ET vs. Notre Dame
Sunday, April 29th @ 1:05 pm ET vs. Notre Dame
Fri: BC: Jr. RHP Jacob Stevens (3-5, 4.99 ERA) vs. ND: Fr. LHP Cole Kmet (0-4, 4.81 ERA)
Sat: BC: Jr. LHP Dan Metzdorf (0-6, 5.58 ERA) vs. ND: R-Sr. LHP Scott Tully (4-1, 4.19 ERA)
Sun: BC: Sr. RHP Brian Rapp (3-5, 3.81 ERA) vs. ND: So. Zack Martin (1-0, 3.58 ERA)
How to Watch/Listen:
All three games in the series will be covered on GameTracker, broadcast on ACC Network Extra via the WatchESPN app, and carried on 103.1 FM for those fans in the South Bend area. Links to all viewing options can be found on the schedule page of Boston College baseball at BCEagles.com.
What you should know about the Notre Dame Fighting Irish:
After spending seven seasons in Chestnut Hill, the last four of which as head coach, Mik Aoki made the jump to Notre Dame, where he’s been at the helm of the baseball program since 2011. Entering this weekend’s series, the Fighting Irish are clinging to their postseason hopes, as they sit 8-13 in the ACC, three games ahead of the Eagles, and 18-23 overall. ND would love to sweep this series to put themselves back into the thick of the race for the ACC Tournament.
The Irish have used multiple combinations during their weekend series so far this year, but going off of who they threw a week ago in a series win over Virginia Tech, it looks like BC will face two lefties and a righty in Cole Kmet, Scott Tully, and Zack Martin. Kmet, only a freshman, has appeared in 19 games on the mound this season, including one start, and has compiled a respectable 4.81 ERA in 39.1 innings pitched. He does, however, possess a less than ideal strikeout to walk ratio, as he’s fanned 33 batters on the year, but also walked 20. Tully is the elder statesman of the group, as the lefty is a fifth year senior who has put together an impressive campaign, going 4-1 with a 4.19 ERA in 58 innings pitched. Martin is a sophomore, and the lone righty in the rotation, and will get the nod on Sunday. He has the best ERA of the trio at 3.58, but only has a single win 32.2 innings pitched. He’s also holding opposing lineups to a .219 average on the season.
Offensively, Notre Dame is batting .271 on the year and features three everyday players over the .300 mark. Junior infielder Nick Podkul leads the team with a .338 batting average and has added ten doubles, three triples, five home runs, and 30 RBI from his spot in the middle of the Fighting Irish batting order. Behind Podkul is outfielder Jake Johnson. The senior is batting .314 on the year with five doubles, a triple, two homers, and 19 RBI. Rounding out the top three is junior Matt Vierling. Though the outfilder is only hitting .308, he’s Notre Dame’s biggest power threat, as the outfielder has launched a team-high six home runs and knocked in 31 runs on the season.
What you should know about the Boston College Eagles:
Entering the back-half of their conference schedule, the Boston College Eagles find themselves on the outside looking in of the ACC Tournament with a league-worst 5-16 mark in conference. A series win, or possible sweep, in South Bend would keep their postseason hopes alive for the third straight year under head coach Mike Gambino.
On the mound, the Eagles will feature their usual rotation of Jacob Stevens, Dan Metzdorf, and Brian Rapp to try and counter the Fighting Irish’s lineup. Fans have seen all three pitch extremely well at times this season and BC will need each to do just that if they are to take this series on the road against a team who is also fighting for its postseason life.
Offensively, BC has raised its team batting average to an even .250, thanks in part to Tuesday’s win over UMass Lowell. Freshman Chris Galland leads the team with a .333 batting average and has also stolen a team-high 26 bases on the season. Jake Palomaki has continued to stay hot this year, as the senior is batting .331 and leads the Eagles in doubles, triples (tie), home runs (tie), and RBI. Sophomore Brian Dempsey has also been solid this year, hitting .318 while playing in every game.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that this weekend’s series in South Bend would be pivotal in determining Boston College’s chances of making the post season. While that’s still true in the sense that a series win, or perhaps a sweep, would keep them alive in the hunt for the ACC Tournament, given the fact that ND sits three games ahead of them in the Atlantic Division, the weekend also comes with an extra caveat: if Boston College loses the series, their postseason chances are officially (unofficially) dead. It’s not that they couldn’t make up the ground in conference, it’s just that, with a strong Louisville team coming to town next weekend and then a trip to Coral Gables to end the season, the Eagles would likely need to take at least four of those six games to sneak in, which, even for the best teams in conference, is a tall order. Now, as for this weekend itself, I think location plays a big role. If this series were in Chestnut Hill, I’d easily pick a BC series win, or even a sweep. After all, the two teams are very similar and Notre Dame is the only team in the ACC behind Boston College in team pitching. Plus, the Eagles have had recent success against Aoki’s squad, sweeping them last season to punch their ticket to the ACC Tournament. But, this season’s match-up is on the road. I’ll say this: BC won’t get swept, they’ll take at least one and will likely get to Sunday with a chance to take the series. I think it’ll come down to Rapp vs. Martin to see who stays alive for the postseason and, if he can throw it like he’s capable of, it will be the Eagles.