(In lieu of a Good, Bad, Ugly-type post, I've decided to start looking at the week of games and play of the team through multiple observations. Touching 'em All give us a chance to pick up some of the bigger storylines while wrapping up some of the other items of the weekends of the season. And it gives me a chance to use another baseball term/cheeky cliche)
It's been a tough year for BC fans. When soccer was playing its way through to the national quarterfinals, there wasn't the thought that it would be the highlight of the sports calendar year. Had they known football and basketball would run into the struggles they faced, people might've turned their eyes to Newton Campus more and more with the intention of following the team more closely.
But in late February, they're searching for something to hold onto. And even though it's only four games against a Mid-American Conference team that struggled for wins last year, this past weekend gave them a glimpse into the hope of the 2016 baseball season. It's not against ACC competition, and the learning curve is going to be steep as the year goes on, but it's a good start for Birdball to clear out four wins in dominant fashion.
Again, this is just the start. The season is incredibly long, and BC's non-conference schedule features a number of teams who aren't from power conferences. They'll play Villanova this weekend, and after the annual exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox, they'll play Northwestern and Ohio State. But other than that, the only power conference teams BC will play are in their own league.
For that reason, it's perfectly acceptable to be excited about the performance of BC (especially given what we saw), but at the same time, even my excitement needs to be tempered since it was just the first four games of the season, and it was only the first sample size.
When I was younger, I always enjoyed a good slugfest baseball game. High-scoring games were always fun because it meant the game story wrote itself through in-game action. There were subplots, substories, and emotion. Nobody was ever out of games. A good 13-10 final score meant it was a long day at the ballyard.
As I've gotten older, I've learned to enjoy a dominant pitching performance for its brevity and simplistic nature. This weekend, Boston College's starting pitching allowed approximately zero runs. Mike King, who entered the year with immense hype, lived up to his "first game" starting bill with a one-hitter. Jesse Adams mowed down NIU, and Jacob Stevens and Thomas Lane proved Mike Gambino has depth and an interesting decision to make on any given week.
What I wasn't expecting, however, was the depth of the BC bullpen. When you're up 14-0 or 16-0, there's a tendency to give up a ton of runs. I can't count the number of times a team was up 9-0 and wound up winning an ugly, 16-7 type game. I can't explain it, but it's just one of those things I notice or believe to be true. I could be wrong for all I know.
In the four game weekend, BC's bullpen was just as dominant as its starters. They combined for 12 innings and allowed only two runs, and they were completely dominant in striking out 18 to walking just four. Nobody needed to throw more than an inning, save for Donovan Casey's 1.1 innings on Sunday.
Again - I know that NIU was a good first chance for the Eagles, and it was a series where they were set up to succeed. But to break off some of the ring rust of a long offseason and put together a dominant performance sets a baseline for future success if they can continue to develop.
Before the season, BC was touted time and time again as a roster that's going to be tough to produce outs from top to bottom. They aren't a team that's going to have one guy step up and produce 65% of the offense, and they morphed into a team capable of spreading out production and producing runs. It's almost like BC was created to be the college baseball equivalent of Moneyball, a team built on guys who are able to do things well from top-to-bottom as opposed to relying on old school metrics like homers and RBI.
Through one weekend, that's exactly what we're seeing. Of players who started, only freshman Gian Martellini didn't accrue more than one hit on the weekend (Connor Bacon and Jake Alu notwithstanding for combining for six at-bats). But even Martellini produced, essentially winning the first game by belting a three-run homer, his first career hit.
Hey look, it's a sample size, but it's too small of a sample to really get excited. Coming against one team, I'm more excited to see what happens with the Eagles this weekend, when they have a number of non-conference games sandwiched around the annual exhibition against the Boston Red Sox. Heading down to Florida, I'm especially excited to see BC on television against the Red Sox. That game will be on NESN.
Over the span of about 10 days, BC will play eight games that count, plus the Red Sox exhibition. Once that's done, it's right into conference play against NC State. So while it's great to win games this weekend, there's an already-grueling stretch coming up, one that'll test the depth of the staff and the roster. BC is getting there, but there's still a ways to go, and the next couple of weeks will really set the bar for what to expect heading into conference play against the Wolfpack.