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Opponent Preview: Boston College

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Meet the Eagles... A dangerous team that’s better than their record

Wake Forest v Boston College
I have no idea what’s going on here...
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Boston College

Mascot: (No longer golden) Eagles | School Location: Chestnut Hill, MA | Conference: ACC

2019 Record: 14-15 (5-7, T-6th Atlantic) | 2018 RPI Rank: 89

2018 Record: 17-32 (7-22, 7th Atlantic) | 2018 RPI Rank: 172

2017 Record: 25-28 (11-19, 6th Atlantic) | 2017 RPI Rank: 84


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Harrington Athletics Village (Chestnut Hill, MA)

Game Time(s): Friday, Apr 5 @ 4:00pm; Saturday, Apr 6 @ 2:00pm; Sunday, Apr 7 @ 1:00pm

TV: None :(

Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh, GoPack All-Access, WZBC live stream (BC broadcast)

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

First, let’s take a look at what was said about Boston College from our 2019 Season Preview:

2018 Boston College Baseball: Not great, Bob.

2019 is a new year, though, with new promise. SO OF Chris Gallard (.316/.403/.398, 10 2B, 28 SB), JR 2B Brian Dempsey (.319/.414/.337, 23:25 BB:K, 7 SB), SR C Gian Martellini (.230/.330/.374, 9 2B, 4 HR), JR 1B/OF Jack Cunningham (.243/.340/.295, 9 2B, 8 SB), JR OF Dante Baldelli (.235/.359/.279, 5 2B, 11 HBP, 19 SB), and SR 3B Jake Alu (.216/.290/.307, 8 2B) all return. Gallard (a 2018 Freshman All-American) and Dempsey were two of the three best hitters on the team last year, so that’s a big help. Getting bigger contributions from the other returning starters will be key to BC getting out of the ACC cellar. There’s no JUCO help on the way, but FR C Peter Burns, FR INF/OF Sal Frelick, and FR INF Cody Morissette should all push for playing time.

SR LHP Dan Metzdorf (1-8, 5.74 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, .288 OBA) returns to the starting rotation. Unfortunately for BC, he was the least productive of their weekend arms last year. JR RHP Matt Gil (1-1, 3.60 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, .305 OBA) and SR RHP Jack Nelson (1-1, 5.53 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, .279 OBA) were the Eagles midweek starters a year ago and could be candidates to slide into weekend roles, although given their production, hopefully there are better options available. SR RHP Thomas Lane (3-5, 3 SV, 4.53 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, .158 OBA), SR LHP Zach Stromberg (2-0, 2.96 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, .286 OBA), SR RHP Sean Hughes (1-0, 3.24 ERA, 2.16 WHIP, .274 OBA), SR RHP John Witkowski (0-2, 2 SV, 7.20 ERA, 1.92 WHIP, .336 OBA), and RS-SO LHP Joey Walsh (2-1, 6.68 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, .310 OBA) all return to form the basis of the bullpen. The Eagles add two stud freshman pitchers in RHPs Mason Pelio and Travis Lane, both Top 250 national recruits. They should play significant roles on this year’s pitching staff. Fellow freshman arms RHP Emmet Sheehan and LHPs Samrath Singh and Ryan Smith should also contend for innings.

This team won’t be overly good, but they have just enough to be a thorn in the side, and should be building to a better 2020.

2019 Projected Record: 24-30 (10-20)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: No

Boston College has shown a lot of improvement from a year ago, but is still a lower-rung program in the powerhouse that is ACC Baseball. They’re good enough to beat anyone, but also bad enough to have the wheels come off and get beat (if not blown out) by any team.

Mike Gambino is in his 9th season as head coach at Boston College. He took over after Mikio Aoki left Chestnut Hill to take over the Notre Dame program. Gambino is also a good example of the worst-case scenario of hiring a beloved alum to the head job at your school: he does just well enough that you won’t fire him when you’d fire another coach doing the same job without school ties, but he doesn’t do well enough that you’re happy with the program. Pete Hughes and Aoki, the two BC head coaches prior to Gambino, went a combined 364-289-3 over 12 seasons. Gambino is 191-263. He did take the program to its only Super Regional since the 1960’s, but that’s also been his only postseason appearance.

Offensively, Boston College’s profile this year is pretty simple: Put the ball in play and force the issue on the base paths. The Eagles rank 15th in the country in stolen bases (61), and 17th in stolen bases per game (2.1). As a team, they’re slashing .289/.369/.404 with a 106:210 BB:K ratio.

The pitching staff has been nothing special (opponent slash line of .261/.370/.383, 5.23 ERA, 1.55 WHIP), and while the defense behind them has been average overall (.968 fielding percentage), they do excel in one particular area which has greatly benefited the pitching staff: turning double plays. The Eagles have turned 26 double plays on the year, a number which puts them 21st in the country. When you’re turning almost one double play per game, you’re going to get out of some jams. Of course, the only way you can turn a double play is by already having a runner on base, so there’s a negative connotation to that stat, also. It’s still impressive, though.


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Friday: LHP Dan Metzdorf (SR)

Saturday: TBD

Sunday: RHP Mason Pelio (FR)


Key Players:

Offense

CF Sal Frelick (FR) - .376 BA, .455 OBP, .559 SLG, 93 AB, 6 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 17 R, 19 RBI, 12 BB, 11 K, 14-17 SB. The freshman left-handed hitter is killing it for the Eagles. He’s not the biggest guy at 5’10, 175 lbs, but he’s explosive, handles the bat extremely well, and has a good eye for the strike zone. He’s a future stud for BC.

3B Jake Alu (SR) - .351 BA, .397 OBP, .509 SLG, 114 AB, 9 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 24 R, 19 RBI, 8 BB, 18 K, 6-7 SB. Another left-handed hitter, Alu is a three-year starter who’s bouncing back after a down junior campaign. Went 10-for-22 with 3 2B over the last week.

2B Cody Morissette (FR) - .310 BA, .357 OBP, .448 SLG, 116 AB, 8 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 17 R, 16 RBI, 8 BB, 18 K, 5-8 SB. Another freshman left-handed hitter for BC. Morissette is a talented young player who is the likely future SS for the program.

1B Jack Cunningham (JR) - .286 BA, .394 OBP, .446 SLG, 112 AB, 6 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 15 R, 17 RBI, 14 BB, 26 K, 2-6 SB. Cunningham started off his BC career as a pitcher, then moved to being a hitter after that wasn’t going so well. After a pretty poor season last year, the left-handed hitter is doing much better as a junior, increasing his walk rate and thus his on-base percentage, while also hitting for more power.

SS Brian Dempsey (JR) - .304 BA, .368 OBP, .383 SLG, 115 AB, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 17 R, 24 RBI, 11 BB, 17 K, 7-9 SB. Leads the team in sacrifices, so if you’re looking for a small-ball candidate in this lineup, this is your guy. Has heated up over the last week, going 9-for-20.

RF Joe Suozzi (JR) - .290 BA, .405 OBP, .371 SLG, 62 AB, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 14 R, 1 RBI, 9 BB, 23 K, 4-5 SB. Suozzi re-entered the starting lineup last weekend against Florida State after a couple weeks of coming off the bench. That was a good move for BC, as he went 8-for-19 with a double and a triple. He’s your prototypical (sarcasm) light-hitting right fielder, although he does strike out at a ridiculously high rate (30.1 %).

Pitching

LHP Dan Metzdorf (SR) - 3-2, 3.56 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, .218 OBA, 21.1 K%, 11.7 BB%, 30.1 IP, 24 H, 13 R, 12 ER, 15 BB, 27 K. Metzdorf is in his third year as a starter for BC, and the lefty is easily having his best season. Control can be an issue, but typically not to an outing-dooming level. Has really only had one bad start this year (against Clemson), but that also happens to be his only other home start of the season.

RHP Mason Pelio (FR) - 4-1, 1.73 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, .192 OBA, 21.2 K%, 10.3 BB%, 36.1 IP, 23 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 15 BB, 31 K. Pelio came in with a lot of hype and he’s live up to it so far. Over his last two starts (versus Clemson and at Florida State), he went a combined 13.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 16 K. He did hit five batters over those two games, though. Still, this kid is legit.

RHP John Witkowski (SR) - 1-0, 2 SV, 5.63 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .286 OBA, 32.4 K%, 1.5 BB%, 16.0 IP, 18 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 1 BB, 22 K. An almost side-armer who mixes a lot of sinkers and sliders into his repertoire. He’s displayed incredible control this year, although he’s allowed 8 extra-base hits and has been prone to giving up the long ball in his career (10 HR allowed over 57.2 IP as a SO and JR).

RHP Matt Gill (JR) - 2-3, 1 SV, 5.73 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .250 OBA, 13.5 K%, 8.0 BB%, 37.2 IP, 36 H, 29 R, 24 ER, 13 BB, 22 K. Gil was the Saturday starter for BC’s first three ACC series, but after looking horrendous in those outings (3 G, 11.0 IP, 17 H, 20 R, 17 ER, 5 BB, 6 K), he was moved back to the bullpen where he pitched very well since (3 G, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K), including two appearances against Florida State last weekend.

RHP Joe Mancini (FR) - 2-4, 0 SV, 5.76 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .276 OBA, 11.4 K%, 8.3 BB%, 29.2 IP, 32 H, 19 R, 19 ER, 11 BB, 15 K. Mancini has cooled off after a nice start to his BC career. He’s still one of their most-used bullpen arms.

RHP Thomas Lane (SR) - 1-1, 0 SV, 4.05 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, .219 OBA, 31.9 K%, 16.5 BB%, 20.0 IP, 16 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 15 BB, 29 K. A big 6’5, 260 pounder who can mow down hitters. Sits in the low-90’s mostly and his ball has some natural sinking movement to it. Hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last five outings, although that’s only spanned 3.1 IP and he’s given up five hits and three walks in that span. As you can tell, control can be a major issue (64 BB, 20 WP, and 13 HBP in 94.2 career IP). Lane’s younger brother, Travis, is a freshman pitcher for the Eagles.


Quick! Fun Facts!

NC State is 25-15 all-time versus Boston College, including 23-15 since the Eagles joined the ACC.

JR LF Jonny Butler ranks 8th in the country in runs scored with 38. JR SS Will Wilson ranks 9th with 38 RBI.

Boston College has only made two postseason appearances (2009, 2016) since 1967.

The Eagles have made four College World Series appearances (1953, 1960, 1961, 1967).


Prediction

Sweeps in baseball are hard... very hard.

Outcome: State takes two out of three to win the series.