Boston College Eagles vs. Northeastern Huskies
First Pitch: Approximately 5:25 PM
Since the baseball Beanpot's inception, Boston College has been the standard flag bearer as reigning champion. Three times they've repeated as champions, having done so in 1992-1993, 2003-2004, and 2010-2011. They have double the amount of trophies as their opponents, and they enter Wednesday's championship game seeking their 12th crown, which would double up the championships earned by the next best - a tie between UMass and their opponents, Northeastern (who both have six).
Head-to-head with the Huskies, BC fans have reason to be confident. The Eagles are 13-6 against the Huskies, which is about a game better than their 13-4-1 record against Harvard. They're 11-5 in the championship round, contributing to a 33-16-1 overall record.
Only Northeastern comes as close to the Eagles, at 26-24 lifetime in the Beanpot. But the Huskies are 6-6 in the championship game, and the Eagles are the only program they're sub-.500 against. For what it's worth, NU is 5-0 against Boston University, a school that no longer has a baseball program.
The scene will play out at the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough, Massachusetts - the new, fascinatingly popular new centerpiece of the region's baseball scene. It'll take place honoring Pete Frates, 10 years after Pete homered at Fenway Park to lead the Birds to a championship over Harvard. But it's still a game that anybody can win.
So for the 20th time, NU and BC will play one another. The 20th time will determine who walks away as Beanpot champions, bragging rights for another season.
Record: 19-15 (7-4 Colonial Athletic Association)
Last Time Out: The Huskies were throttled yesterday by Bryant, 19-2, at home in their last game before the Beanpot. While a bad loss, it snapped what was a four game winning streak. NU defeated Quinnipiac last week, 12-9, before sweeping Delaware on the road (6-1, 6-3, 14-0).
Around The Horn
Northeastern isn't a particular strong hitting team, but that doesn't mean they don't have mashers inside of their lineup. Although they'll enter the game hitting .250 as a club, they have three guys with averages currently over .300.
The lineup is highlighted by Pat Madigan and Keith Kelly, both of whom are hitting right at the .300 mark (Madigan is actually at .301, but that's splitting hairs). They're McFilthy and McNasty when it comes to leading the team in hits, with Kelly at 39 and Madigan at 37; only max Burt's 31 hits (although hitting .254 at an average) comes close.
Madigan and Kelly do the bulk of their damage in extra base hit, of which about a third of their totals tally. They each have three homers (tied with Josh Treff - who is hitting .210) to lead the team, and they combine for 11 doubles. Their slugging percentages are nearly identical at .439 and .423 (Madigan and Kelly, respectively). In short, this is a duo that will form a formidable test for Boston College's pitching, and they're a 1-2 punch that most teams would like for production purposes.
But, again, this is only a team that hits .250, meaning their production is offset by guys who struggle at the dish. Three guys who appeared in 30 or more games have averages of .230 or lower.
On The Bump
Northeastern's strength comes from its bullpen, where Tyler Robinson and Mike Fitzgerald have been absolutely filthy. Like the 1-2 punch at the dish, these guys are capable of shutting teams down late in games, averaging just about an inning and a half per appearance.
Fitzgerald is the closer, having saved six games with a 2-2 record and a 2.05 ERA. In 22 innings, he's struck out 22 guys, allowing only 13 hits and five earned runs. Opponents are only hitting .183 against him. That's enough to pretty much declare a game as an eight inning game.
But Fitzgerald is backed up in the bullpen by Robinson, who might actually be better. In 21 innings, he has a 1.71 ERA, allowing four earned runs on nine hits, striking out 18 and walking 11. Opponents are hitting - get this - .136 against him. So even though he only has the one save, he combines with his teammate to shorten games essentially to seven innings.
In a game like the Beanpot, Northeastern has to balance going deep into their staff with their CAA schedule. They have a home series against William and Mary coming up this weekend, so like the Eagles, they have to balance the desire to win the Beanpot opposite costing themselves a chance to pick up much-needed conference wins.
Not a cloud in the sky. Sunny. 60 degrees. Game time temperature in the 50s but dipping down towards the high 40s later in the night. It's a perfect day/evening for baseball, and it's setting up to be an absolute gem of an atmosphere to sit back, pull that blanket over the lap, and watch a game.
Northborough, Massachusetts is the home of the New England Baseball Complex. As detailed earlier and throughout the Beanpot process, it's become a rising star on the college baseball scene, centrally located for programs all around the region.
Field 2 is the largest of the three baseball diamonds, measuring about 400 feet to straightaway center. It's all-turf, providing protection against the elements that we won't necessarily have to worry about, and it's a state-of-the-art facility with lights that'll allow us to watch the game as the sun sets over Central Mass.
For those heading to the field, it's right off of the Route 20/Route 9 interchange. If you take the Mass Pike, follow it to the Route 9 exit (Exit 12).
Music To Win A Trophy
Montgomery Gentry - My Town.
People can talk all they want about how this isn't the "real Beanpot," that the Beanpot can only exist for the four hockey schools. It's something people said in the past, and if they want to make the argument, they won't get a rebuttal from baseball fans. Hockey has more history, more drama, and will be contested among the same four schools from now until eternity.
From a baseball standpoint, it's not the same, but we don't necessarily want it to be. This is our rivalry, and the winner of this gets bragging rights among a tight-knit community that will play today for a great cause. This is everything the Beanpot should represent, and at the same time, the winner will go out and earn it.
Instead of trying to brag about this being our city over someone else's, I'll take this opportunity to share the town with everyone else. In the spirit of competition, I hope BC wins, but my tune's softened than it maybe did when BC played UMass last week. You can probably thank John Frates for that.
Random Fact(s) of the Week
Northeastern's head coach is Concord native and alumnus Mike Glavine. A former first baseman who had a cup of coffee with the New York Mets, you might know his slightly famous brother Tom. Tom won 305 games for a career spanning from Atlanta to New York and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mike Glavine took over last year for Neil McPhee, also a Northeastern alum. McPhee won 697 games as head coach of the team, including three NCAA Tournament berths.
Northeastern has had several affiliations throughout the years. When McPhee took over, they were part of the North Atlantic Conference. In 1996, the league reformed as America East, and the Huskies remained there until after the 2005 season. In 2006, they joined the Colonial Athletic Association.
This is going to be an incredibly intriguing matchup, which is apparently what I say about them all.
This is a game that feels more important than a regular non-conference game. At the same time, it's still a non-conference game, meaning both BC and Northeastern can't mortgage their entire season on one game. That's what builds the intrigue about this.
Thomas Lane gets the start for BC, the fourth starter who will be entrusted to put together some quality innings and have the team in a position to win the game. I wouldn't be surprised if Coach Gambino goes into his first flight of relievers for short outings, but at the same time, don't expect four innings of Jesse Adams with the weekend series on the horizon against Louisville.
How the coaches manage their pitching staffs will be incredibly important to the game because it'll impact what happens this weekend. If BC can get quality innings, build an early lead, and avoid facing the short relievers who can go multiple outings for Northeastern? They'll find themselves as repeat champions. But if the bats don't get going and NU is able to trot out guys who throw one or two innings regardless of weekday or weekend, guys who shut down opponents like a married woman at a singles bar, then the Eagles will have themselves a tough time bringing the Beanpot back home down the proper end of Comm Ave.