It’s March on the Heights—the weather is starting to thaw, brackets are being busted, and college baseball is in full swing. BC Birdball is over a month into its 2017 season, and the team is on its way to hopefully returning to the College World Series for the second consecutive year.
The Eagles (7-11, 1-5 ACC) have dropped from their #6 pre-season ranking, currently occupying the bottom slot in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. With only one conference win, an 8-5 upset over #4 Florida State on March 10 in its ACC opener, BC is getting off to a bit of a slow start. The Eagles dropped the rest of their series with FSU by a combined score of 24-1.
The Birds are faring much better outside of the ACC, however, currently holding an even 6-6 record out-of-conference despite being swept in their season opener by Bethune Cookman. The games weren’t a total loss—all three were decided by one run—and sophomore RHP Jacob Stevens pitched six scoreless innings in his first start of the season.
But the Eags’ momentum soon ran out as Bethune-Cookman went 3-0 for the weekend, winning all 3 games by just one run.
From there, the team traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to compete in the 19 Ways Invitational, racking up wins against Northern Illinois and Villanova before dropping the last game to host Oklahoma University in another one-run game. The Eagles bounced back the following week and went 3-2 at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida, defeating Central Michigan, Toledo, and Villanova for the second time this season.
After its first conference series at FSU, Birdball lost three straight games in a series against #1 Louisville in contests that were sadly less than well-matched: the Cardinals won the weekend by a composite score of 17-7, at least an improvement over the Eagles’ beating at the hands of the Seminoles. The Eagles then returned home to Boston to defeat Beanpot rivals Northeastern 10-7, holding off a late surge by the Huskies that brought them out of a 10-0 deficit in the eighth.
While the team is feeling the loss of 2016 stars, Joe Cronin and Nick Sciortino, several players from last year’s roster, and a few new faces, are stepping up to the plate—literally and metaphorically. Stevens—in just his second year on the Heights—leads the BC record books with a career average 2.34 earned runs allowed. The righty is averaging 1.4 ERA per game this season while playing 6.24 innings per game, an impressive feat for a sophomore.
Adding depth to the pitching roster are junior RHP Donovan Casey, who recorded his first career win against Toledo, sophomore RHP Jack Nelson, and sophomore LHP Dan Metzdorf. Metzdorf has logged some big games early in the season, first allowing just one run in seven and six innings pitched against Oklahoma and Louisville, respectively.
The BC infield is anchored by Jake Palomaki, who currently averages 0.88 hits per game and whose 98 career walks make him fourth in program history. The junior has already recorded three doubles in sixteen games in 2017, and has become a mainstay at the plate.
On a team dominated by sophomores and juniors, senior Michael Strem and freshman Dante Baldelli round out the batting order. Strem, a utility player whose .301 batting average led the team last year, is on a 13-game streak of reaching base—rivaled only by Casey’s 11. Baldelli had himself a game Tuesday versus Northeastern, decorating the score sheet with two runs, a walk, and a double.
The Eagles look to improve their ACC record this weekend in their first home series against Clemson at URI, March 24-26. The Tigers are currently #2 in the Atlantic Division of the ACC.