Previewing 2018 Baseball: Louisville

boston college baseball

How long do you hold out until you give up on a team? For fans of Boston College baseball, that question might very well have been answered this past weekend, when it dropped two of three in South Bend to Notre Dame, sending its conference record spiraling to a woeful 6-18 with two weekend series left. Since starting the season 5-5, the Eagles (15-28, 6-18 Atlantic Coast) have struggled mightily, going just 10-23, including stealing just one win in their last nine ACC games.

BC is down, but not fully out. That’s what makes this weekend series against Louisville (30-14, 10-11) so important—the Eagles are within three games of the last spot in the ACC Tournament, so with six conference games to play, sitting out the postseason is only highly improbable, not impossible.

It’s a jam-packed weekend, regardless, as BC celebrates first responders on Friday, the military on Saturday, then have Senior Day on Sunday afternoon.

Who is BC playing?

Louisville

When is BC playing?

Friday, May 4, 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 5, 4 p.m.
Sunday, May 6, 12 p.m.

Where is BC playing?

Harrington Athletics Village at Brighton Fields, Brighton, Mass.

How to Watch:

All three games will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra and available to stream on WatchESPN.

Probable Starters:

RHP Jacob Stevens (3-5, 5.01 ERA) vs. LHP Adam Wolf (4-2, 2.39 ERA)
LHP Dan Metzdorf (1-6, 4.81 ERA) vs. LHP Nick Bennett (5-1, 2.32 ERA)
RHP Brian Rapp (3-5, 3.81 ERA) vs. RHP Bobby Miller (4-1, 0.92 ERA)

By the Numbers:

BC:

1) Not enough can be said about freshman outfielder Chris Galland’s game-changing speed—he leads the conference in stolen bases (28) and is also tied for the nation’s highest speed score, a sabermetric stat that attempts to evaluate a player’s overall speed.

2) If you want to talk about how up-and-down BC’s season has been, look no further than junior southpaw Dan Metzdorf. His last time out was eight shutout innings against the Irish, scattering a pair of hits while striking out two. The time before? He was shelled for seven earned runs in just four innings of work against Florida State.

3) The Eagles have seven players who’ve qualified for the batting average leaderboard in terms of total at bats, but the remaining two spots in the lineup have been in flux for head coach Mike Gambino. Six other players have made at least 10 starts this season, mostly to mixed results as just one, Joe Suozzi, boast a batting average above .215.

Louisville:

1) Good luck getting a hit off the arms Cardinals head coach Dan McDonnell throws out on the mound. McDonnell’s staff is holding opponents to an ACC-low .214 batting average, while flashing an overpowering assortment of pitches—in conference play, seven of the eight most used pitchers have piled up more strikeouts than innings pitched.

2) Louisville also leads the ACC in stolen bases with 90, edging BC by nine. Led by Josh Stowers with 25, the aggressive tendencies on the basepaths have resulted in the eighth-most stolen bases in the country.

3) One of the conference’s scariest hitters looms in the Cardinals’ lineup. Sophomore outfielder Danny Oriente, who missed almost all of last year with a labrum injury, has returned with a vengeance in 2018, leading the team with a .373 average. Having struck out just 10 times in over 100 at-bats, Oriente is a high-contact hitter that frequently puts the ball in play and makes things happen.

Last Meeting:

Then-ranked No. 1 in the country, Louisville swept BC in Kentucky in March of 2017, but two of the games were particularly close. After getting shut out, 6-0, in the series opener, the Eagles responded with a ninth-inning rally in the second game. Trailing 6-0 entering the eighth inning, seemingly poised for another lopsided loss, BC rallied for four runs—three in the ninth—before coming up just short. In the Sunday finale, Metzdorf allowed just one earned run but a late push from the Cardinals handed them a 5-3 win and the sweep.

Outlook:

Simply put, this is going to be a really tough series for the Eagles to escape with a single win—but they so desperately need more than that. BC needs to find a way to flip the switch, like it did last year, to race into the tournament at the last minute. It’ll start with strong pitching performances, like Metzdorf’s from this past weekend, as the Cardinals are not a team one can afford to spot a few runs. The pitching matchups are in Louisville’s favor as the staffs find themselves on opposite ends of the leaderboard in earned run average and other assorted stats. The Eagles will need to find ways to manufacture runs, hang in the close games, and pray that the bullpen doesn’t break down as it consistently has this year.

Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor

Bradley Smart
About Bradley Smart 161 Articles
Bradley is the associate sports editor for The Heights. He believes that America does truly run on Dunkin, March is the best month, baseball teams should always wear stirrups, and being down 3-1, in anything, is never cause for concern. You can follow him on Twitter @bradleysmart15.