Boston College Eagles vs. #19 Clemson Tigers
Friday: 6:30 PM
Saturday: 4 PM
Sunday: 1 PM
There's an old adage that if you do something once, it's a fluke. If you do it multiple times, it's a trend.
For Boston College, winning became a thing last week when they wiped out the NC State Wolfpack. For it to becomea regular thing, they need to keep winning. Thus, we lead to this weekend.
It's an obvious statement to make, but it requires no superfluous adjectives. Boston College takes on Clemson in South Carolina. The road to the rankings runs through the purple and orange.
Record: 13-3 (2-1 ACC)
Last Time Out: Clemson enters this weekend on a four game winning streak. After losing the series opener at Wake Forest, the Tigers rallied to win two straight, including a 6-5 one-run ballgame and a 13-8 offensive mashfest. Mid-week, they traveled for a two game series at The Citadel, where they won the first game 12-1 before winning another one-run game, 5-4. Clemson is off to its best start in six years.
Around The Horn
One of the names we talked about with Shakin' The Southland was Seth Beer. Beer graduated high school early, allowing him to enroll in college in the spring. So in 2016, instead of playing his senior year of high school, he's actually playing his freshman year of college. That's a pretty amazing stat, considering he's started every game for the Tigers this year and is hitting at a .426 clip with three doubles, seven homers, 22 RBI, and a .515 on-base percentage. That means he's tops on the team in batting average, homers, RBI, total bases, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage.
All that and the kid hasn't even gone to prom yet.
Catcher Chris Okey is another name to watch, with a .304 batting average and 21 RBI. Over the last three games, he's gone 7-12 with a homer and five RBI. And Chase Pinder is back from an injury to hit .357.
This is not going to be an easy lineup to crack for the BC pitchers, and with a solid core, BC is likely to have to be on pitch-perfect type of performances. This is going to be a fantastic litmus test and proving ground for the Eagle rotation.
As for that rotation, BC will counter with the typical three. Mike King goes on Friday, Jesse Adams pitches on Saturday, and Jacob Stevens - still without an earned run allowed to start the year - pitches on Sunday.
On The Bump
Take the Clemson rotation out of the equation and you're left with a bullpen that's one of the best in the nation, capable of winning games on their own. So that's where we'll start.
Clemson's bullpen has 65-plus innings on its arms to start the year, allowing only 11 earned runs and 39 hits. That's good enough for a .168 opponents' batting average and a 1.52 ERA. Needless to say, that's beyond dominant and if the starting pitching fails, Monte Lee shouldn't necessarily be worried.
Brooks Crawford and Alex Bostic are completely killing it, allowing two runs between them in 23 innings pitched. Pat Krall has thrown 17 innings on his own, allowing only two runs, and Alex Eubanks allowed two runs in 10 innings.
Clemson's only announced two of their starters to kick off the weekend. Clate Schmidt will pitch on Friday against Mike King, putting his undefeated, 3-0 record on the line (3.15 ERA) against the also-undefeated BC ace. Charlie Barnes is a wild card, having struggled to a 1-2 record and a 4.76 ERA to start. But he's a lefty, which means the lefty advantage of Adams is negated. They haven't announced a Sunday starter.
This team strikes out a ton of guys, which will be a huge test for the BC patience. Birdball works counts deep and is developing into a team that makes pitchers work the zone. What will be a test is when they face pitchers who know how to pound that zone and don't walk a ton of guys. This is one of those times that the strength and patience of the hitters will test the strength of the pitching staff and vice-versa.
Hey it's gonna snow this week!
Boston is going to get hit with snow on Sunday night (at least that's what the forecasters are saying), which is ironic considering the mild winter had virtually no impact on the Boston College baseball schedule (save for when the rains came last week and wiped out the Holy Cross game...which seriously?!).
Still, this series is being played down in South Carolina, where temperatures are going to be a little different than Boston. Friday's game will be played under 70 degree temperatures to start and clear skies, with clouds rolling in throughout the weekend. The temperatures should drop though during the game since the overnight lows will dip down into the high 40s. So managing the pitchers in the temperature shift will be incredibly interesting.
As for the rest of the weekend, clouds will roll in and steadily increase the chance of rain. When the rains come, the temperatures will stay down, meaning the game time temps will get cooler and cooler. Still, 58 degrees on Sunday sounds better than snow.
Clemson, South Carolina is a wonderful place full of wonderful people. In media appearances or random conversations on Twitter, I can honestly say that the Tiger faithful are usually incredibly cordial. Their fans are knowledgeable and passionate, and it should make for a great weekend of games down at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Speaking of Kingsmore Stadium, it's got an old charm that's unto its own. It opened in 1970 as Beautiful Tiger Field, and it's one of the nicest fields in the league. It seats upwards of 6,217 fans, with 4,500 of those fans in seated capacity. It routinely trends towards the better attendance in the nation, and the Tigers enjoy great fan support, which enabled them to host Regionals seven times since the turn of the century, including four Super Regionals.
Dimensionally, the field measures 320 down the left field line and 330 down the right field lines. Power alleys are 370-375 feet, and dead center is 400 feet deep.
When you're watching this game, compare Kingsmore Stadium to Shea Field. Then think about the fact that there's a stadium coming for BC. That should be enough to make you want to think about what the Eagles could do with their construction project.
Music To Listen To As You Play in Beautiful South Carolina
Jason Aldean - My Kinda Party.
I freakin' love this song. The first time I heard it was when Josh Beckett came out of the bullpen to start for the Red Sox, and although my feelings about Beckett would nose dive by the time he left here, at the time, it was awesome. He stalked out to the mound with that cocky swagger, like he knew he was going to blow hitters away. It gave the game a big game feel and electrified right off the bat.
Heading to Clemson is something worth that feel. Not that NC State wasn't big time, but Clemson is a whole other animal. The Tigers are a traditional powerhouse, a national brand. They're a loaded team, nationally ranked, the whole shebang. This is a team that wins can mean a ton against. The crowd is going to be into the games, meaning BC has to walk in with a confident swagger and take their game to the Tigers.
Let's get this thing started. It's my kinda party.
Random Fact(s) of the Week
Clemson baseball is actually older than the American League. The American League formed in 1901, while Tiger baseball first played in 1896. The Senior Circuit of the National League, though, is 20 years older than Clemson baseball.
Although we call it "orange and purple," the actual team colors for Clemson are listed as "Tiger Orange and Regalia." I like that. Regalia. Sounds...well...regal.
Boston College never played Clemson before joining the ACC. The Eagles have only won eight times in 30 games all-time, and it took Mike Gambino until 2014 before he actually won a game against the team. Of BC's eight wins, five have come at Clemson.
Clemson is currently eighth in the nation in attendance with 4,738 fans per game, including a record of 6,524 against South Carolina a couple of weeks ago.
Last week, I was intrigued by how Boston College would fare against Clemson. This week, I'm not so much intrigued as I am nervous.
I believe in the Eagles being a contender this year, but this is a series where they're facing a team that's incredibly hot and talented. What makes me concerned is that BC has been solid, but they're also punching up to a higher weight class. Eventually, that's going to catch up with them because it has to. The law of averages makes most sense in that regard.
All of that said, there's always a chance for the Eagles to go down to Clemson and rock their world. After beating NC State, if they can continue this ride, they can really position themselves in a huge way by knocking off a legitimate contender (again - so was NC State, but Clemson is in a different stratosphere).
If BC wins the series, they'll be in tremendous early season position with two wins over divisional opponents. The weekend's going to be a ride. Let's just see where we stand come Sunday afternoon.