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First Pitch: For Right Now, It Comes Down To This

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With Notre Dame on the horizon, BC needs to beat Virginia Tech if it wants to make the ACC Tournament.

BC Athletics

Win and you're in.

With six games remaining on their ACC slate of games, Boston College doesn't necessarily have to win all of their games in order to get into the postseason tournament. They could easily still be in it if they only won one or two games, and it's conceivable they could still get in next week even if they were swept this week.

But that's not something anybody wants to do.

Because BC doesn't hold tiebreaker scenarios over anybody in front of them (save for Georgia Tech), they need to win games in order to have some type of upper hand. As a team on the bubble, it becomes substantially easier to get in if you hold the right cards, and it's a heck of a lot easier to win the hand by holding an ace up your sleeve instead of trying to win with 2-7 off-suit.

So for right now, the season needs to boil down to these three games. If you carry that mentality, it simplifies everything. It thins out the margin for error, and it shows just how you'll play as an athlete. After all, you live for the moments when your hit or play can save or win the season.

Does BC need to sweep Virginia Tech in order to get into the ACC Tournament? No. But it wouldn't hurt if they played like they did.

On Paper

Record: 22-24 (9-14 ACC)
Last Time Out: Defeated North Carolina A&T, 3-0, and Appalachian State, 13-4. Lost two out of three to Duke during last ACC games (3-6, 3-4, 11-3)

Around The Horn

Like so many other lineups they've faced all year, the Hokies are a top-heavy lineup consisting of four guys who can really mash the ball. They're a team hitting .265, but they've scored 262 runs this year. They've hit 28 homers. Make no mistake - if you throw a pitch where it doesn't belong, they're going to make you pay.

Alex Perez is hitting .343 this year, but what's more impressive to me is his ability to hit for extra bases. Of his 61 hits, nearly a third go for more than a single, and seven times he's hit a triple. He's gone for nine doubles and five homers with 33 runs batted in.

Brendon Hayden is another name to watch. At .315, he's the third leading hitter on the team, but he's mashed 10 homers and 16 doubles with 47 RBI. Along with Erik Payne, he's part of a duo that's knocked in 89 runs this year.

What about Payne? He's hitting .328 with five homers and 42 RBI.

Saige Jenco is hitting .310 with 18 RBI. Consider he's the worst of the four top hitters on the team statistically with a slugging percentage of .421.

Perez and Hayden have slugging percentages of .556 and .573 respectively.

If there's good news for BC pitching, it's that after those four, the lineup drops off considerably. The next top hitters are guys hitting under .300, and only a couple of them are hitting over .250. Sean Keselica and Ryan Tufts are hitting .285 and .279, respectively, but they're literally it.

The good news for the Eagles is that their pitching staff has gotten pistol hot as of late. It's holding opponents to a batting average of .256, and it's been absolutely on fire in the last couple of weeks. There is virtually no concern out of the lot that the pitching will have a bad weekend since it's all of a sudden turned into one of the best in the league. BC's pitching probably won't pitch two shutouts like it did against Georgia Tech, but it's a crutch capable of carrying the Eagles.

Pitching against Virginia Tech is a lot like playing Monopoly against someone who owns the greens and the blues with hotels on them. If you can make it through the street without hitting North Carolina Avenue and Boardwalk in the same turn, you get money and play through Baltic and Mediterranean.

On The Bump

Virginia Tech's pitching is, for lack of a better term, bad. Their team ERA is second worst in the league at 5.37. They have only three pitchers with an ERA under 5.00, and only one has an ERA under 4.00. Unlike their hitting, which is top heavy and struggles after a drop-off, the pitching staff is overall mediocre from top to bottom. As long as the bats continue their resurgence after what happened last weekend, BC should be okay in this regard.

Sean Keselica - the same one hitting .284 on the season offensively - is 4-3 and the only regular starter with a winning record. His 3.15 ERA and 60 innings pitched establish him as the team ace. He's thrown 48 strikeouts and walked 20 while holding opponents to a .229 average.

Jon Woodcock is holding opponents under a .200 batting average, but when he gets hit, he gives up rockets. He's given up 16 extra base hits out of the 44 hits allowed, and he's given up 34 runs. He also deals with control issues since he's the only VT pitcher with over 30 walks. This is a guy who's going to pound the mitt (58 strikeouts also lead the team) but he's more of a Wild Thing/Nuke LaLoosh type pitcher who's going to strike out 10 and walk five, hit the bull, and deliver a strike that's driven towards South America and deep. I just hope he doesn't wear caps and sleeves.

As long as the Boston College offense shows back up the way it's supposed to, they'll be fine because Virginia Tech isn't going to overpower them on the hill. They average over an error per game. They're only fielding .967. They're a team that faces a ton of batters during a game, a team that gives up a ton of runs on average. Root hard for the BC offense because if it shows up, this weekend could be fun.

Scoreboard Watching

I could give you a load of crock about how BC mathematically could catch Clemson, and they can. Three games essentially separates fifth from 11th. It's simply amazing how tightly packed it is.

Pretty much all of the teams in front of BC aren't playing conference games this weekend. That means the Eagles could lose games in the coming weeks, especially when they venture out of ACC play next week, but they can pick up some major ground this week. With everyone idle, BC has a chance to leapfrog several teams.

The only conference games going on this week are Louisville at Clemson and Miami at Pittsburgh. I guess root for L'ville since Clemson is one of those teams in front of BC.

Three losses do nothing except push BC back. Big weekend.

Music To Listen To As You're Playing For Postseason Dreams

Van Halen - Right Now. I love Van Haggar probably more than I do Van Halen, so this is a no-brainer for me. It's as simple as BC showing up this week and getting themselves into the ACC Tournament race. Losses are going to be a killer given the teams that are currently idle. So go out there and get it.

Fun Fact Of The Week

English Field is one of the smallest venues in the ACC. It has a capacity of 1,033 seats to go along with a hill along the left field line where people can spread out their blankets and whatnot. The smallest venue in the ACC is Pitt's 900 seat Petersen Sports Complex.

Virginia Tech's listed "capacity" is 33 seats bigger than......? Shea Field at Boston College.

So in terms of the facility talks, a big stadium maybe shouldn't be in BC's future. Remember what I always say - there's nothing wrong with the grass itself at Shea Field.

Prediction Time

This week is going to be a juicy matchup for Boston College because the Virginia Tech weaknesses play right into the BC strengths as long as those strengths make the trip south to Blacksburg. Think about what BC does well - they've had elite pitching over the past two months, and their hitting, when it's on, knows how to drive men in. They're capable of knocking starting pitchers out early with runs before anyone ever settles in, and they're capable of getting to bullpens late in order to pull away.

That's a recipe for a disaster for the Hokies. If the BC pitching is on, their hitting is going to struggle. If the hitting is on, they're going to fall behind early, then make up ground in the middle innings only to watch BC pull away at the end. This is a series Boston College can win as long as it all goes according to the eye test.

BC needs to win at least two games in this weekend. Anything less and they're going to be at a disadvantage come two weeks against Notre Dame.