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Where Baseball America ranked Boston College in their ACC preview

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After a huge year for Boston College baseball in 2023, the Eagles look to build on the success in 2024 with new head coach Todd Interdonato.

Baseball America put out its ACC preview, which includes power rankings, predictions, and more. Birdball is predicted to be the 13th-best team in the conference after a top-six finish last season that included a 37-20/16-14 record, finishing third in the Atlantic division of the conference behind the powerhouses of Clemson and Wake Forest. The conference saw down years for a few teams, by far most notably Florida State and an honorable mention would be Louisville; though the parity in the conference is almost always fantastic.

The big year for BC in 2023 came after an ugly 5-25 ACC record the previous season. They were one of just two teams in the ACC to have a below .500 record out-of-conference as well, going just 19-34.

Wake Forest is the top team in the nation heading into the season, which no one is surprised by. They’re led by Chase Burns on the mound while Nick Kurtz headlines the stacked lineup of hitters.

Here’s the preseason power rankings from BA:

  1. 1. Wake Forest
  2. 2. Virginia
  3. 3. Clemson
  4. 4. North Carolina
  5. 5. Duke
  6. 6. Miami
  7. 7. NC State
  8. 8. Louisville
  9. 9. Florida State
  10. 10. Georgia Tech
  11. 11. Virginia Tech
  12. 12. Notre Dame
  13. 13. Boston College
  14. 14. Pittsburgh

With BA ranking BC as the 13th-best team in the conference, here’s what they wrote on the Eagles (link):

Last year marked one of the most memorable seasons in program history for the Eagles. On top of a thrilling road victory at Tennessee, the Eagles won their first four conference series and found themselves ranked inside the top 10. They faltered a bit down the stretch, but they did more than enough to earn an at-large bid and the No. 2 seed in the Tuscaloosa Regional. After an 11-10 loss to Troy in its opening game, BC beat Nicholls and Troy in consecutive days to take on host Alabama in the regional final. The Tide knocked out the Eagles, but the 2023 season will be remembered in Chestnut Hill forever.

After the season, head coach Mike Gambino took the same position at Penn State. While that was certainly a tough blow, the Eagles made a slam dunk hire with Todd Interdonato. A proven winner at every stop and an excellent recruiter, Coach Interdonato should certainly go on to do great things on the Heights.

The departures of Joe Vetrano (.315/.407/.671) and Travis Honeyman (.304/.383/.534) leave the Eagles with big shoes to fill on offense. Experienced centerfielder Barry Walsh (.314/.416/.490) will play high-quality defense in center field, Cameron Leary (.258/.422/.503) will be the team’s everyday rightfielder and has above-average power, while the middle of the infield from 2023 remains intact with both Patrick Roche (.294/.403/.398) and Sam McNulty (286/.371/.405) returning. The ever-experienced Vince Cimini (.277/.373/.312) provides invaluable leadership qualities and an advanced defensive skill set at third. Nick Wang will now be the starting first baseman, and his 43 RBIs and 11 home runs in 2023 both ranked second on the team. Backstop Adonys Guzman (.239/.370/.284) transferred to Arizona, which means the experienced Parker Landwehr will step into a starting role.

Two of last year’s weekend starters in Chris Flynn (7-3, 4.34 ERA) and Henry Leake (5-5, 5.85 ERA) both graduated, which leaves a gaping hole in the rotation. Although he received significant draft interest and could have signed if he wanted to, the towering John West (5-3, 4.50 ERA) is back for the 2024 season and will anchor the rotation. Sean Hard (0-0, 9.58 ERA) has some of the highest upside and loudest stuff on the staff, but he will need to refine his command in order to maximize his effectiveness. Senior righthander Joey Ryan (1-1, 5.57 ERA) will be the team’s go-to arm in relief, and has a true plus changeup with above-average command.

This season may be a bit of a step back from 2023, but there is no doubt BC has the right guy at the helm in order to turn it into a consistent tournament team. The future is bright in Chestnut Hill.

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Boston College Takes the Series Opener, but #14 Virginia Wins a Pair

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Photo Courtesy of @Bcbirdball/X

Boston College came into this series looking for a bounce-back weekend after being swept by Notre Dame. After last weekend, the Eagles held a two-game lead for the final spot in the ACC tournament, so they needed to continue to add ACC wins. #14 Virginia is also looking to bounce back after dropping a series last weekend to Georgia Tech. 

On Thursday, Boston College played its annual ALS Awareness Game at Fenway Park in honor of BC legend Pete Frates. AJ Colarusso, the Massachusetts native, was given the start on three days rest and dominated. Over four innings, Colarusso allowed one hit and struck out five. The BC offense built off of his shutdown performance by producing runs early. In the bottom of the third, Parker Landwehr smoked a solo shot into the bullpen to give the Eagles the early lead. In the next inning, Vince Cimini added to the lead with a two-run homer, extending the lead to 3-0 BC. 

After Colarusso was pulled, Michael Farinelli came into the game. Although he had four walks through only an inning and a third, he did great at escaping jams. In the fifth, UVA was threatening with the bases loaded and one out. Farinelli forced a pop-up and got a strikeout, which helped to maintain the lead. In the sixth, Travis Lane inherited two runners on base. Lane got a strikeout, but both runners advanced with two outs. Lane extinguished the threat after getting a pop-up to end the inning. 

In the bottom of the seventh, Cam Caraher started the inning with a bunt single and advanced to third off a single from Landwehr. Sam McNulty attempted a bunt to score Caraher, but he was thrown out at home. Adam Magpoc walked to load the bases, and Cam Leary hit into a fielder’s choice, which scored Landwehr. UVA got a run back in the eighth off a triple and a sack fly. BC blew the game open when they scored four in the bottom of the inning. Nick Wang started the inning by reaching on a throwing error, which was followed by a Cimini single. Barry Walsh bunted successfully and got on to load the bases. Caraher walked, which scored a run. Landwehr ripped a single through the right side to score two runs. McNulty laid down a successful bunt to advance both runners, and Magpoc walked to load the bases again. Kyle Wolff was drilled by a pitch, which scored another run, making it 8-1 BC. Landwehr was 4-4 on the night, with three RBIs. 

After relieving Lane in the seventh, Eric Schroeder finished the game and helped seal the win. He gave up two runs over the final three innings while striking out five batters, which helped the Eagles win 8-2. The Eagles have now won back-to-back ALS Awareness Games after winning last year against Notre Dame.

Friday’s game was a battle that came down to the ninth inning. The Eagles got their offense going early, seizing a 2-0 lead. Walsh, Leary, and Wolff started the game by reaching base, which set up Wang’s double down the line. Magpoc walked to keep the pressure on UVA. Once again, the Eagles failed to capitalize on timely scoring opportunities, and UVA was able to limit the damage. UVA came right back in the top of the inning to tie the game on a triple that scored two runners, knotting the game at 2-2. Cimini broke the tie by singling to score Wang, making it 3-2 BC after three innings. In the sixth, UVA once again tied the game. After a double and a fielder’s choice, UVA singled home a run to equalize the score. 

John West put together another great outing on Friday. West allowed three runs and struck out six batters over seven innings. Once again, Lane came into the game and pitched another scoreless inning. Lane has been one of the unsung heroes of the BC bullpen after Tyler Mudd’s injury. After battling with injuries over the past few years, Lane has gone into games with higher and higher leverage. Earlier in the season, his role was limited to mop-up duty. On Saturday, he had his most important outing of the year, pitching in the eighth inning of a tie game in ACC play. Over his last nine appearances, he has not given up a run. Lane did it again and gave the Eagles a shot to win going into the bottom of the eighth. 

The Eagles loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth but could not convert again after Aiden Teel, brother of Red Sox prospect Kyle Teel, made an outstanding diving catch in left field that saved the game for UVA. In the ninth, Aiden Crowley entered the game for Lane but was immediately pulled after walking the first batter he faced. Bobby Chicoine entered the game for the Eagles. Virginia got another runner aboard after a throwing error from Chicoine on a bunt. UVA laid down another successful bunt to advance runners to second and third. UVA lined a ball to second, and Cimini’s throw was off-target, which allowed one run to score. Landwehr retrieved the ball to throw out the trailing runner to limit damage to a single run. BC would be retired in order, and Virginia won 4-3 to even the series. 

On Saturday, the Eagles could not get anything going on offense despite having many scoring chances. The Eagles’ bullpen game gave them an excellent opportunity to win, only allowing two earned runs (four total). UVA added two runs in both the third and the fifth. The game showcased five Eagles pitchers, who only gave up five hits to an elite UVA offense, who came into the weekend hitting .341 (3rd in NCAA). Virginia won the game 4-0 and also clinched the series. 

The Eagles’ pitching staff has made massive improvements since the start of the year. They held one of the best offenses in the country to only ten runs over three games, which gave them great opportunities to win all weekend. Holding any team to ten runs over a series should lead to a series win. Even with a series loss this weekend, I was amazed by the dominance of the entire pitching staff. I hate to be a broken record, but leaving runners on base continued to kill the Eagles. Over three games, the Eagles stranded 27 runners on base, which is unacceptable. In Friday’s one-run game, BC left the bases loaded twice. On Saturday, both teams had five hits, but UVA was able to capitalize on their scoring chances. The Eagles need to be better if they want to win ranked series. Next week, Boston College will face UMass Lowell on Tuesday and start a must-win series against Louisville on Thursday.

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What Went Wrong? Eagles swept by Notre Dame

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Photo Courtesy of Ethan Roy

Boston College came into the weekend looking to keep their postseason hopes alive. According to two different publications, the Eagles were firmly on the bubble and were considered either the last four in or the first four out. Notre Dame came into this series with nothing to lose since they were 2-16 in the ACC. With BC right above them in the standings, this weekend could be huge in catching the Eagles and making the ACC tournament. 

The Eagles never showed up from start to finish. Credit to Notre Dame, they outscored the Eagles 36-7 and won twice by run rule. The key to Notre Dame’s success was early run production. They scored 21 runs in the first three innings of the games this weekend, including 13 in the first. The Irish made it so that the Eagles played catch-up from the beginning every day. 

In Friday’s game, Michael Farinelli gave up 8 earned runs over one inning. The Eagles started that game in a 9-0 hole after 2 innings. The Eagles cut into the deficit at the top of the third, but it was not nearly enough to stop the red-hot Irish bats. Notre Dame kept piling on runs often to make the final score 14-3 Notre Dame in 7 innings. The Eagles collected 6 hits over 7 innings but failed to assemble large rallies to cut into the massive Irish lead. 

On Saturday, John West had one of his worst starts of the season. He only went 4 innings and allowed 6 runs. Evan Moore relieved West and also struggled. Moore allowed 3 runs in 1 inning and was pulled. The score was 9-3 Notre Dame after 5 innings—the rest of the bullpen that game for the Eagles shinned. Travis Lane, Aidan Crowley, and Brad Lombardi combined threw a perfect game over 3 innings with 5 strikeouts. This effort was not enough, as the Eagles failed to capitalize on opportunities, something I highlighted last weekend. BC left a runner on base in 8 out of 9 innings, which made the difference. Although it was a 5 run game, converting some of the baserunners left on would have allowed the Eagles a shot at winning. 

Sunday was all Notre Dame. Notre Dame threw a combined no-hitter with 4 pitchers and continued to dominate offensively. ND put up 6 runs over the first 2 innings, followed by 7 in the fourth, cementing the game and the sweep for the Irish. Coach Interdonato was also serving a game suspension on Sunday. “During yesterday’s game at Notre Dame, I inadvertently had a student-athlete in the lineup who was not eligible to play – thus violating NCAA and ACC rules.  I apologize for my mistake and accept today’s one-game suspension” (Todd Interdonato, BC Baseball/X). Notre Dame is now 2 games back of the Eagles in the ACC Atlantic standings. 

This weekend was the worst-case scenario for the Eagles. Pending an ACC tournament win, the Eagles have a slim shot at making it to the College Baseball World Series. Also, Notre Dame is pushing for the final spot in the ACC tournament after this weekend, bringing the race back to life. With a challenging remaining ACC schedule, the Eagles will have to turn it around when they face 2 top ten opponents. This week’s ACC series is against #10 Virginia, starting Thursday with the 2024 ALS Awareness Game at Fenway Park.

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The Eagles Take One out of Three Against #14 Wake Forest

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The Eagles entered the series against #14 Wake Forest after a shutout loss against Northeastern in the Beanpot final and a comfortable win against Dartmouth. After being named the preseason consensus #1 team in the country, Wake Forest struggled initially in ACC play but got back on track last weekend after sweeping #16 Virginia Tech. Wake Forest is looking to prove that they are still an Omaha-caliber team, while BC is looking to continue adding quality wins to their resume in hopes of making the College Baseball World Series. 

Friday’s game was all Wake Forest. I think the Eagles faced the best pitchers in the ACC on back-to-back Fridays, Jamie Arnold and Chase Burns. Burns, the Tennessee transfer, has an elite fastball paired with a wipeout slider. Burns went 6.1 innings, only allowing 2 hits and 1 unearned run. This weekend, Burns threw 8 strikeouts and eclipsed 100 strikeouts in the year, which puts him on track to break Paul Skenes’ record of 206 without having to make any postseason starts. His 8 punch-outs astoundingly lowered his season average. The Demon Deacon bats were on display early and often in this game as they scored in 6 out of 8 innings, compiling 13 runs on 13 hits. Nick Kurtz continues to show why he is one of the best hitters in college baseball, displaying effortless power and hitting to all parts of the field. Coming into the weekend, he was on a tear where he hit homers on 5 of his last 7 at-bats, adding 3 more this weekend. 

Boston College’s lone offense came in the fifth inning. Connor Dreyer reached on an error to start the inning and advanced off a Parker Landwehr single. Sam McNulty laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners into scoring position, which is where Patrick Roche drove in a run on a fielder’s choice. Friday’s final score was 13-1 in 8 innings. 

Saturday’s game was a game-of-the-year candidate. John West started again on Saturday, providing another quality start for the Eagles. West had a rough start to the game but then settled in nicely. In the first inning, the Deacons gained 2 runs off a triple by Kurtz and a sacrifice fly by Jack Winnay. West cruised for the next few innings, and the Eagles struggled to get anything going offensively. In the fourth, Wake Forest extended their lead to 3-0 when they started the inning with a double, eventually scoring on fielder’s choices. West held Wake’s potent offense to 3 runs and 4 hits over 6 innings. Aiden Crowley relieved West in the seventh. The Deacons added to their lead with a solo shot to make it 4-0. 

The Eagles’ offense finally woke up in the bottom of the inning. Landwehr collected another single, and McNulty doubled to score Landwehr. A pitch hit Patrick Roche to get another runner on base. Cam Leary smoked a single to score McNulty, and both runners advanced a base on a wild throw. The stage was set for one of the most crucial at-bats of the game, where Nick Wang singled to right-center to score both runs, equalizing the game at 4-4. After a rough inning, Crowley was relieved by Eric Schroeder, who continued his dominant performance. Schroeder shut down the Deacon’s offense for 2 innings with 2 strikeouts and gave the Eagles a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the ninth. The last person I would want to face in this scenario, Cam Leary, stepped up to the plate and did exactly what he did last Saturday: smashed a ball deep onto the left-field hill to give the Eagles a walk-off victory. 

Sunday was another challenging game for the Eagles. BC took an initial 1-0 lead in the first when Kyle Wolff doubled to score Leary, but it was all Wake Forest after. Over the next 4 innings, the Deacons added 6 runs to make it 6-2 after four full innings. There was no more offense for either team until the ninth inning. Wake cashed in 3 runs on a sacrifice fly and a 2 run homer by Kurtz, who continuously impacted this series. The Eagles got one back in the bottom to make the final score 9-3. 

One of my biggest takeaways from this weekend is missing scoring opportunities. The Eagles left 23 runners on base this weekend, including 9 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday. If they cashed in on Saturday, that game would not have needed to be a walk-off. It would have been a one-run game if they could have scored half of those runners on Sunday. Credit to Wake, they had three elite starters pitch this weekend who excelled at getting out of jams. If the Eagles want to start winning their ranked series, they must convert those runs. Looking ahead, Boston College will face UConn during the week and Notre Dame this weekend. Notre Dame is at the bottom of the ACC and is a must-win series, which should be a sweep. 

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