Who’s the Pack playing?
Opponent: Boston College
Mascot: Eagles | School Location: Chestnut Hill, MA | Conference: ACC
2018 Record: 5-6 (0-0, T-1st Atlantic) | 2018 RPI Rank: 119
2017 Record: 25-28 (11-19, 6th Atlantic) | 2017 RPI Rank: 84
2016 Record: 35-22 (13-15, 5th Atlantic) | 2016 RPI Rank: 26
When? Where? How do I watch?
Location: NC State’s Doak Field at Dail Park, Raleigh, NC
Game Time(s): Friday, Mar 9 @ 3:00pm | Saturday, Mar 10 @ 2:00pm | Sunday, Mar 11 @ 1:00pm
Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh
Live Stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/ncsu/baseball/
Tell me about this team
It’s still very early in the season for accurate RPI numbers to be out (I mean, come on, you really think that BYU, Northeastern, and Illinois State are Top 15 teams?), but the trendline of RPI rankings for Boston College over the last three years is not exactly what you want to see. After finishing 2016 just a hair outside of the Top 25, the Eagles dropped to 84th in 2017 and are currently sitting at 119 a fifth of the way through the 2018 campaign. It’s not exactly like Boston College has been playing the toughest of the tough, either.
Offense hasn’t really been the issue for Boston College, as the team is averaging over 6 runs per game. The power number haven’t really been there, with just 24 extra-base hits in 11 games (and 12 of those 24 coming from just two players), but the team is hitting a combined .298 batting average and has 19 stolen bases on the year; they’re managing hits and then pushing the envelope a bit on the base paths to get their runners into scoring position.
Pitching... well... this has been the struggle for this team. Again, against a not killer lineup of opponents, Boston College pitchers have a combined 6.89 ERA while surrendering 50 BB and 22 HBP in 95.1 IP. Opposing hitters are batting a solid .297 against Eagles pitchers. Still, Boston College returns their entire weekend rotation from 2017, a group that performed admirably well last year, so the experience and talent are there for a turnaround to occur as the season progresses.
OF Chris Galland (FR) - .583 BA, .643 OBP, .750 SLG, 24 AB, 4 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 12 R, 8 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 7-7 SB in 2018. Galland has been a blessing for a Boston College offense that struggled a year ago. Currently on a six-game hitting streak after playing sparingly to start the year, Galland has been hitting in the back-half of the order for the Eagles. He’s a hot bat right now who can also run.
2B Brian Dempsey (SO) - .421 BA, .465 OBP, .421 SLG, 38 AB, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 R, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 8 K, 1-4 SB in 2018. It’s kind of impressive to have 16 hits and no extra-base hits. That’s just what Dempsey does, though, as just two of his 37 hits in 2017 went for extra bases. He does a good job of putting the ball in play, but is definitely a Punch-and-Judy hitter.
SS Jake Palomaki (SR) - .396 BA, .453 OBP, .625 SLG, 48 AB, 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 R, 11 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K, 3-3 SB in 2018. Palomaki is a four-year starter for the Eagles in the midst of a breakout senior campaign. He’s currently riding a five-game hitting streak in which he’s hitting .545 (12-for-22). Palomaki is a tough out with a 124-85 BB-K ratio over his career.
OF/1B Jack Cunningham (SO) - .342 BA, .468 OBP, .368 SLG, 38 AB, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 7 R, 3 RBI, 7 BB, 7 K, 2-4 SB in 2018. A reserve as a freshman a year ago who saw more action on the mound than at the plate or in the field, Cunningham is putting together a very good season entering conference play. Riding a six-game hitting streak, Cunningham is not exactly to the Evan Mendoza level of pitcher-to-hitter transition, but he’s definitely adept at the plate and can handle his own.
3B Jake Alu (JR) - .295 BA, .347 OBP, .455 SLG, 44 AB, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 9 R, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K, 3-4 SB in 2018. Alu has really come on strong of late, hitting .407 (11-for-27) over his last six games. The team leader in batting average a year ago when he slashed .331/.384/.386, the left-handed hitting Alu could present some challenges for Pack pitchers.
C Gian Martellini (JR) - .233 BA, .298 OBP, .279 SLG, 43 AB, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 R, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 13 K, 0-0 SB in 2018. Martellini’s off to a rough start at the plate in his junior year, but in 2017 he slashed .302/.364/.474 while leading the team in hits (58), doubles (14), triples (2), and home runs (5), and finishing second on the team in runs (28) and RBIs (35). None of those numbers are overly impressive or award-worthy, and he did also lead the team in strikeouts and double plays, but the base level offensive talent is there enough to not take him lightly at the dish.
RHP Jacob Stevens (JR) - 2-1, 3.38 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, .245 OBA, 13.1 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 19 K in 2018. Stevens will get the nod on the bump Friday afternoon for Boston College. He’s had two really good outings (combined 12.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 17 K) in 2018 and one really really bad outing (1.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 2 K). Stevens is a talented pitcher, but he has had a propensity in his past for hit batters, wild pitches, and serving up home runs.
LHP Dan Metzdorf (JR) - 0-1, 8.71 ERA, 2.52 WHIP, .444 OBA, 10.1 IP, 20 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 6 BB, 5 K in 2018. Metzdorf, BC’s Saturday starter, has had a rough 2018 season through his first three starts, there’s no denying that. He was much better last year, and lefties have been able to prove effective against this lefty-heavy lineup of NC State, so the worry should be there for State fans.
RHP Brian Rapp (SR) - 1-1, 4.70 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .241 OBA, 15.1 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 24 K in 2018. Rapp has recorded double-digit strikeouts in two of his three starts this season, including his season debut where he went six scoreless, hitless frames against Santa Clara. The Sunday starter for the Eagles, Rapp will be one of the tougher arms the Wolfpack has faced on Sundays this year.
RHP Thomas Lane (JR) - 1-0, 1 SV, 0.82 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, .086 OBA, 11.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 7 K in 2018. Lane is an intimidating presence on the mound at 6’5 and 260 lbs, even though he’s not a strikeout pitcher. With his size and his, uhh... effective wildness (he’s plunked 8 batters and walked 21 in 40 career innings), he’s been able to put hitters away, though, especially this year.
RHP Sean Hughes (SR) - 0-0, 0 SV, 1.50 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .182 OBA, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 K in 2018. Hughes has had control issues throughout his career with 24 BB, 6 HBP, and 7 WP over just 15.1 IP, but he’s off to a solid start to his junior campaign.
RHP Jack Nelson (JR) - 0-0, 0 SV, 11.57 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, .346 OBA, 7.0 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 3 BB, 5 K in 2018. Nelson’s not a off to a great start, but he was effective in 2017 going 4-1 with a 2.41 ERA and .203 OBA. Expect him to be a quickly turned-to arm out of the bullpen.
LHP Zach Stromberg (JR) - 0-0, 0 SV, 3.38 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .350 OBA, 5.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K in 2018. Boston College’s top lefty bullpen arm, Stromberg has already made 38 appearances in his career in just over two years. Expect to see him this weekend, especially given the left-handed makeup of State’s lineup.
Quick! Fun Facts!
NC State leads the all-time series with Boston College 23-14. The Wolfpack also own the longest winning streak in the series at 10 games.
Boston College still hasn’t played a home game this season - and who can blame them for not scheduling one until mid-March; nobody wants to play baseball in the northeast this time of year. Their first home game will be Tuesday, March 13 against Holy Cross.
The Eagles have made four College World Series appearances in their history (1953, ‘60, ‘61, ‘67), but have made the NCAA Tournament just twice (2009, 2016) since that last CWS appearance.
The program has an overall all-time record of 1,116-1,154-14.
Boston College has played an early season exhibition game versus the Boston Red Sox every year since 1993, plus games in 1916 and 1933. All-time, BC is 0-27 in these exhibition games.
BC has had 12 players drafted, including two first round selections, in the last three MLB drafts (2015-2017) after having just three players selected the previous three drafts (2012-2014).
Boston College’s experienced starting pitchers match up well against State’s hitters, with BC’s two right-handed starters both having solid seasons and their one struggling starter having the benefit of being a lefty versus this Wolfpack lineup. Plus, Boston College is just a complete thorn in the side in seemingly every sport and always seems to take something, even when State is the superior team. Even so, I like State in this matchup overall and believe they will win the series.
The key in this series will be getting to the Boston College bullpen early and often. I like State to take the first two games of the series rather comfortably before dropping the Sunday tilt in a very close game.