April 8, 2011
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - The Boston College baseball team travels to Duke this weekend for a three-game ACC series at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Friday night's opener is scheduled for 6 p.m. while Saturday's game is set for 1 p.m. That contest will be broadcast live on FOX Sports South/FOX Sports Carolinas, Sun Sports and CSN Mid-Atlantic. NESN will air the game at 4 p.m. following Bruins coverage. Mike Morgan and Nick Belmonte will call the game.
Boston College (11-15, 4-7 ACC) is in third place in the Atlantic Division entering the weekend while Duke (18-14, 3-9) is in fifth in the Coastal.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCH UPS (BC listed first)
Friday: LHP Andrew Lawrence (1-1, 3.75) vs. LHP LHP Dillon Haviland (1-2, 2.00)
Saturday: RHP John Leonard (3-3, 3.68) vs. RHP Dennis O'Grady (4-1, 4.54)
Sunday: TBA/LHP Nate Bayuk (3-3, 5.23) vs. RHP Marcus Stroman (1-1, 2.86)
WEEKEND WEATHER FORECAST
Friday: Partly to mostly cloudy with widely scattered showers or thunderstorms possible this afternoon. High 77 degrees. Winds SSE 5-10 MPH. Chance of rain 30 percent.
Saturday: Overcast. High 71 degrees. Winds NNE 5-10 MPH.
Sunday: Morning clouds followed by afternoon sun. Highs in the upper 80s.
WAYS TO FOLLOW
Boston College Twitter: BCSportsNews
Saturday: Watch live on FOX Sports South/FOX Sports Carolinas, Sun Sports and CSN Mid-Atlantic. NESN tape delay at 4 p.m.
BC BACK ON THE ROAD AT DUKE
A HUGE INNING
The Boston College baseball team heads back to the road and travels to Durham, N.C. for a three-game ACC series at Duke.
Saturday's 1 p.m. game will be televised live on FOX Sports South/FOX Sports Carolinas, Sun Sports and CSN Mid-Atlantic.
NESN will air the game at 4 p.m. following Bruins coverage. Mike Morgan and Nick Belmonte will call the game.
The series will be played at Durham Bulls Athletic Park where the Eagles went 2-1 in the 2009 ACC Championship. The 2011 edition of the tournament will be played there May 25-29.
The Eagles lost a Sunday doubleheader to Miami at Eddie Pellagrini Diamond at Commander Shea Field and sit in third place in the Atlantic Division.
Duke is in fifth place in the Coastal Division after taking a game from Georgia Tech last weekend in Durham.
The BC offense erupted for 12 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday against Bryant. The Eagles were losing 5-4 entering the frame and came away with a 16-5 victory.
It was the most runs scored by the maroon and gold since April 13, 1999 when it scored 12 runs in the second inning against Harvard in a 12-6 win.
The Eagles went 8-for-11 in the inning (.727) and the first six batters reached base.
BC also went 3-for-4 with two outs - driving in six runs in the process.
SMITH HEATING UP
Senior C/INF/RHP Garret Smith has a hit in 12 of his last 13 games and is batting .348 (14-for-46) during that span.
He has improved his batting average from .237 on March 11 to the .298 mark he has now which ranks third on the team.
Smith has five doubles, two RBIs and nine runs scored in the last 13 games. He has an on-base percentage of .375 and is slugging at a .457 clip.
The Sterling, Mass. native has also been hitting well in ACC games this year.
He leads BC with a .359 batting average, 14 hits, five doubles, a .487 slugging percentage and seven runs scored and is second with a .375 on-base mark in the 11 contests.
Boston College has had a tough go of it at home this year.
The Eagles have played just three games at Eddie Pellagrini Diamond at Commander Shea Field so far.
BC's home-opening weekend against Virginia Tech had to be moved to Bill Beck Field at the University of Rhode Island due to the harsh winter.
The Boston area is coming off one of the worst winters in recent history and there was more precipitation the week before BC hosted the Hokies.
The Eagles' March 16 game at Bryant had to be postponed due to weather.
BC had more weather trouble when it hosted Miami last weekend. The teams only played two games of the series and both came on Sunday.
The northeast was hit by a nor'easter Friday that brought rain and snow into the area. Eddie Pellagrini Diamond at Commander Shea Field still had snow cover on it as of that Saturday afternoon.
Again this past Tuesday, BC had to postpone a game against Rhode Island due to more rain that soaked the region Monday and caused poor field conditions.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
Boston College might be 11-15, but it has faced the 13th-toughest schedule in the country, according to Boyd's World.
The Eagles had a pair of three-game series at No. 1 Florida and No. 5 Florida State and played the season opener at No. 23 Coastal Carolina.
BC lost to the Chanticleers and dropped the series finale against the Seminoles with walk-offs.
Boston College has only had three true home games so far this year.
THE TRAVELS OF A NEW ENGLAND TEAM
BC traveled nearly 10,240 miles before playing its first home game on March 25, and even then it wasn't at home.
Boston College opened the season at the Caravelle Resort Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Sandwiched in between the series with the No. 1 Florida Gators was the annual exhibition with the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers February 26.
The Eagles returned to campus before heading to Daytona Beach for the spring break trip. They played in Daytona Beach and Orlando before packing up for the weekend at No. 5 Florida State.
A non-conference game at Bryant was postponed before traveling to College Park for an ACC series at Maryland.
BC made the short trip to Holy Cross in Worcester and played its home-opening series vs. Virginia Tech at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston.
The Eagles had away games at Northeastern and Rhode Island before hosting Miami in Chestnut Hill. The teams played two games at Eddie Pellagrini Diamond at Commander Shea Field - the first two true home games of the year.
ONE OF THE BEST IN THE FIELD
Boston College doesn't give up many runs in the field as it led the ACC and finished third in the country with a .979 fielding percentage in 2010. Only No. 6 Texas and Creighton were better with .980 fielding percentages.
The Eagles also turned 65 double plays which led the ACC and ranked 15th in the country.
BC has made 19 errors so far this season which gives it a .980 fielding percentage. That ranks third in the conference and 11th nationally. Its 19 errors are the second fewest in the ACC going into the weekend.
BC has made one error in the last four games.
The Eagles have turned 24 double plays which ranks seventh in the ACC. BC has turned just one double play in the last seven games after having 23 in the first 19 contests.
MELCHIONDA ON ANOTHER TEAR
Junior INF Anthony Melchionda went on a tear from February 27 to March 8 and is back at it again.
He is 8-for-14 in the last four games which is a .571 batting average. He has two doubles, a triple and four RBIs during that span. He is now batting over .300 for the first time this year.
Melchionda broke out earlier in the season from February 27 to March 8.
He batted .455 over the five games with two doubles, two triples and 11 RBIs. BC went 4-1 in that stretch.
Melchionda had a hit and an RBI in each of those games.
He was 7-for-10 with runners in scoring position during the span, 3-for-4 with with runners on third and less than two outs and 3-for-4 with two outs in the inning.
He also improved his batting average from .158 on February 27 to .333.
Melchionda is leading the Eagles with three triples, 10 extra base hits and 24 RBIs.
HAMLET ON FIVE-GAME HIT STREAK
Senior 2B Matt Hamlet is on a little streak of his own - improving his batting average from .190 on March 27 to his current .274.
He has a pair of doubles and four runs scored during his current five-game hitting streak.
In the last outing against Bryant Wednesday afternoon, Hamlet went 3-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and two runs. Each of those numbers is a season high.
HUNTER ON A MISSION
Sophomore RHP Hunter Gordon got off to a rough start this season but settled in and is now one of BC's most reliable relievers.
Gordon gave up a walk-off home run in the season opener at No. 23 Coastal Carolina on his second pitch of the night, then he gave up another round-tripper against the first batter he faced at Bethune-Cookman March 4.
Since then he has been dominant - allowing just an unearned in his last nine outings.
The Swampscott, Mass. product has thrown 12.0 innings in that span and allowed seven hits. He has struck out six and walked a pair.
The only extra base hits he has allowed have been two doubles and opponents are hitting just .156 against him.
LEONARD'S LOOKING SHARP
Senior RHP John Leonard returned to campus despite being drafted by the San Francisco Giants last summer in the 36th round and it is paying big dividends.
So far this year, Leonard is 3-3 with a 3.68 ERA. He has allowed 22 runs - 18 earned - on 40 hits in 44.0 innings of work. He has struck out 22 and walked 12.
Leonard ranks ninth in the ACC in innings pitched (34.1), 19th in ERA and 20th in opposing batting average (.244).
UNHITTABLE TO START
Senior RHP John Leonard was nearly unhittable in the beginning of his outings at No. 5 Florida State and at Maryland.
Against the Seminoles, Leonard was stellar for the first 6.0 innings, but FSU tied the game with three runs in the seventh and went on to win, 4-3. He faced the minimum number of batters through 3.2 innings and just two over the minimum through the six.
Leonard allowed one hit in the first six frames and nobody reached second base.
In the series finale at Maryland, he allowed an unearned run through a career-high 8.0 innings of work to lead BC to a 4-1 win.
Leonard began that outing by throwing 5.1 no hit innings. He faced three batters over the minimum while he was on the mound and only three Terrapins reached second. He finished the day by giving up three hits and walking two while striking out five.
LAWRENCE TAKES ON BIGGER ROLE
Junior OF Andrew Lawrence has started 15 games in the outfield, but now he has added pitching to his repertoire.
The coaching staff has used the left-hander in 10 games and he has a 3.75 ERA. Lawrence has thrown 12.0 innings and allowed five runs on nine hits.
He threw 3.0 innings in the loss at UCF and stopped the bleeding. He allowed one base runner - a walk - and struck out two.
Lawrence has been the Friday starter and has thrown an inning in each game. In all five of his starts on the hill, he threw just the first inning.
The last time he pitched before this season was as a senior in high school in the state semifinals in 2007.
Lawrence is batting .231 with five doubles, two homers and eight RBIs. He is the only player on the team with more than one home run.
BOURDON OFF TO GOOD START
Freshman OF Tom Bourdon has been the everyday starter in center field for the Eagles.
The Red Sox drafted him in the 38th round (1,163 overall) of the First-Year Player Draft last June.
He has started 24 games in center field and leads the everyday starters with a .304 batting average. He has four hits in the last three games and three RBIs in the last two.
He hit an inside-the-park home run against Bethune-Cookman March 4 after the center fielder misjudged the ball.
Bourdon's older brother, Mike, was also drafted by the Sox out of high school in 2007. He is now a senior catcher at the University of Tampa.
Tom Bourdon was the first player in Northwest Catholic history to be named to the All-Central Conn. Conference team all four years in high school.
He was a two-time all-state selection and the only Connecticut player named to the American Baseball Coaches Association All-Region 1 team.
SMITH IS ULTIMATE UTILITY PLAYER
Senior C/INF Garret Smith started at shortstop in high school and was the starting shortstop in 2009 for BC, but now he is the starting catcher.
Smith had never caught a game in his life entering the 2010 season but offered to make the switch to the coaching staff to help replace the loss of All-American Tony Sanchez.
He is a career .274 hitter and has started 155 games since he arrived on campus in 2008.
"I think Garret Smith is going to have a big offensive year," Gambino said. "As far as pure baseball players, I will put him with anybody in the country. He can play anywhere on the field and legitimately play shortstop in the ACC as well as the other infield positions. He is one of the top catchers in the league and if he was a full-time pitcher, I wouldn't be surprised if he was one of the top bullpen guys in the ACC. That kid is unbelievable."
Smith has 14 starts at first base, seven behind the plate and three at third base.
He has also earned the spot as the closer on the pitching staff and has four saves which ranks fourth in the ACC.
He has a 1.00 ERA in nine appearances and 9.0 innings of work. He has allowed one run on five hits.
BAYUK MAKES TRANSITION
Senior LHP Nate Bayuk became Boston College's top choice out of the bullpen the last two seasons, but now he is starting games.
With the loss of junior RHP Taylor Lasko to Tommy John surgery, the Eagles needed a replacement for his spot.
Bayuk has made 44 career appearances out of the bullpen and made his first start against Indiana February 19.
Bayuk earned his first career win against the Hoosiers, allowing one run on five hits in 5.0 innings. He struck out four and walked one.
He tossed 7.0 shutout innings against SIU Edwardsville en route to a 15-0 win.
Bayuk had his most impressive performance against Virginia Tech. He allowed one hit through 7.0 innings to lead the Eagles to a 2-1 win.
The Foxboro, Mass. product entered the game in the third inning and finished the game by shutting out the Hokies. He faced one batter over the minimum, did not issue a walk and struck out two batters. Fourteen of the 21 outs he recorded were on the ground.
Bayuk has a career 4.44 ERA in 50.2 innings of work.
In 2009, he was used primary as a left-handed specialist. Last season, he was used more often before an injury cut his season short.
SUDOL'S HOT STREAK
Senior OF/1B Mike Sudol was hitting just .195 through the first 11 games.
He went 11-for-22 from March 12-23 to improve his average to .302.
He had four multi-hit games in that span with three doubles and a solo home run.
Head Coach Mike Gambino boasts that junior SS Brad Zapenas is one of the best defensive shortstops in the country.
Zapenas has been the everyday starter at short since arriving on campus and has started 115 games.
He made 11 errors as a freshman in 2009 but nearly cut that number in half last season, committing just six errors in 58 games.
"Zapenas has to be in the conversation as one of the top defensive shortstops in the country," Gambino said prior to the season.
He also hit .318 in 2010 with six doubles and 14 RBI.
But he really heated up at the end of the season.
He batted .417 in the last 14 games and had a hit in 15 of the last 17 outings.
Zapenas' batting average jumped from .277 on April 27 to .318 at season's end.
Zapenas was a Northwoods League all-star over the summer and was honored with the 2010 Rawlings Finest in the Field Award.
So far this season, Zapenas has made four errors. He is batting .286 with five doubles, a triple, a homer and 12 RBIs.
Zapenas has been the leadoff hitter in every game this year. When he leads off an inning, he is hitting .354 (17-for-48).
BC TAKES SERIES FROM HOKIES
Boston College opened the home portion of its schedule by hosting Virginia Tech at the University of Rhode Island March 25-27.
Eddie Pellagrini Diamond at Commander Shea Field was unplayable due to the harsh winter.
Junior INF Anthony Melchionda hit a two-run homer and eight different pitchers shut out Virginia Tech for eight innings in a 5-3 series opening win.
Senior LHP Nate Bayuk allowed one hit through 7.0 innings and junior OF Marc Perdios drove in two runs in Saturday's 2-1 win.
The Hokies won the series finale, 8-1.
EAGLES TAKE TWO OF THREE AT MARYLAND
Boston College earned its first series win of the year at Maryland March 18-20.
Seven different relievers combined to throw 8.0 shutout innings in a 7-4 win Friday night.
The bullpen faced two batters over the minimum through the last 8.0 innings of the game and only allowed one hit - a solo homer in the eighth.
After losing 4-3 Saturday on a bases loaded balk in the seventh, senior RHP John Leonard carried the Eagles on Sunday in a 4-1 triumph.
He allowed an unearned run in 8.0 innings of work and began his outing by throwing 5.1 no hit innings. He faced three batters over the minimum while he was on the mound and only three Terrapins reached second.
EAGLES LOSE TIGHT GAMES AT #5 FSU
Boston College was swept by No. 5 Florida State, but two of the games were decided by two runs or less.
The Eagles opened with a 3-1 loss when facing Sean Gilmartin. Junior OF Andrew Lawrence hit a solo homer in the second before the Seminoles scored three times in the fifth.
In the series finale, BC held a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Florida State, which had one hit to that point, broke through with three runs to tie the game.
BC had men on second and third with one out in the top of the ninth but couldn't convert and FSU turned that momentum into a walk-off win on a sac fly.
Florida State won the second game of the series, 15-6.
Senior 2B Matt Hamlet entered the season as the reigning NCAA champion in sac bunts.
He and Florida Atlantic's Mike Albaladejo tied for the best in the country with 20 sacrifices.
Don't expect that to happen again this season, though. With a new coaching staff comes a new philosophy on scoring runs.
"The analogy I always use is that sacrifice bunting is like CPR if you're a lifeguard," Gambino said. "You need to be really, really good at it and hope you never use it. I don't want to give up outs. Outs are precious. They're hard to come by and when you are on defense they are hard to get so I don't want to give them up."
BC has only sacrifice bunted 10 times this season and Hamlet has one.
Freshman OF Tom Bourdon leads in that category with four.
The Eagles went deep a total of 70 times last season which was the second-most home runs in program history.
BC surpassed the 2009 number of 58 round-trippers.
The school record for home runs in a season is 77 set back in 1999.
Sean McGowan, BC's all-time home run leader, had 25 that season.
Mickey Wiswall led the team with 19 home runs and John Spatola had 17 blasts.
Junior INF Anthony Melchionda and sophomore C Matt Watson had seven homers and senior 1B/OF Mike Sudol had six.
Boston College has eight home runs through the first 26 games and one was an inside-the-parker.
WHEN ALLOWING FIVE RUNS OR LESS
BC was 21-4 when allowing five runs or less during the 2010 season.
All four of those losses came in ACC action with one coming against Virginia, Duke, Maryland and Virginia Tech.
That is an improvement from the 2009 season when the Eagles were 21-12.
The Eagles are off to a 10-7 start when allowing five runs or less in 2011.
Boston College is 1-8 when allowing more than five runs this season.
BC had 152 RBI with two outs last season and John Spatola led the team with 28.
A total of 43 percent of the RBIs that BC recorded came with two outs.
Junior 3B Anthony Melchionda led all returning players with 18 two-out RBIs while C Matt Watson plated 17 runs in that situation.
In the Eagles' 11-5 win at FIU on March 9, all of the runs crossed the plate with two outs.
Fifty-three of the 113 RBIs that BC has recorded this season have come with two outs.
Junior INF Anthony Melchionda leads the team with 10 two-out RBIs while junior INF Brad Zapenas has eight.
BC had some big shoes to fill offensively with the loss of three of its top hitters.
Robbie Anston, John Spatola and Mickey Wiswall were all drafted and were an integral part of the lineup.
Anston was the leadoff hitter and batted .324 with 21 doubles, six triples, five homers and 35 RBIs. He scored 55 times and stole 18 bases.
Spatola and Wiswall provided the bulk of the offense, combining to hit 23 doubles and 26 home runs while driving in a total of 122 runs. Spatola batted .316 while Wiswall finished at .301.
Anston (26th round, Seattle) and Spatola (35th, Chicago White Sox) graduated while Wiswall (7th, Seattle) left BC early as a junior.
Head Coach Mike Gambino started a new tradition at The Heights. Each season, a player who has battled adversity and represents the best qualities of BC Baseball will wear No. 8 in honor of former player Peter "Sonny" Nictakis.
Sonny was a two-time captain for the Eagles in 1998-99 and lost his courageous battle with Hodgkin's disease in the summer of 2000.
His No. 8 has not been worn since the 1999 season and Gambino tabbed senior 1B/OF Mike Sudol to be the first to don the number during the 2011 campaign.
Sudol is a fifth-year senior who has faced a litany of injuries during his time at The Heights. The Franklin, N.J. product has endured four knee surgeries, a micro fracture, a bone graft and complete reconstruction of his meniscus. Sudol missed his freshman season and his second year was cut short.
He has been an important contributor the last two seasons despite playing through pain most of the time. He has played in 94 games with 69 starts and is batting .286 with 40 runs, 55 RBI, 23 doubles and 11 home runs.
Senior RHP Geoff Oxley and senior C/INF Garret Smith were selected as the captains of the 2011 Boston College baseball team as voted by their teammates.
Oxley is returning for his fifth year after receiving a medical redshirt in 2010. He had Tommy John surgery in May after making seven appearances out of the bullpen early in the season. Oxley has made 40 career appearances in relief and is 3-1 with a 4.91 ERA.
Smith returns for his second year as the starting catcher after making the move from shortstop prior to the 2010 campaign. He had never caught in his life but went to the coaching staff and offered to go behind the plate to soften the loss of All-American Tony Sanchez. Smith has been a starter since he arrived on campus in 2008.
2010 AT A GLANCE
BC finished the season 30-28 (14-16 ACC) and advanced to its second-straight ACC Championship after placing fourth in the Atlantic Division.
The Eagles started the season under .500, going 15-17 and 6-9 in the league. But a nine-game win streak and a pair of sweeps against Wake Forest and NC State shot them to 24-17 and 12-9 by April 27. BC closed out the regular season with a 5-10 stretch before going 1-2 in the ACC Tournament.
The top returning hitter in the lineup were junior INF Anthony Melchionda who led the team with a .358 batting average. He also had seven homers and 41 RBIs.
Senior 1B/OF Mike Sudol (.326) and junior INF Brad Zapenas (.318) were the other returning players who batted over .300.
The weekend rotation returned two of its starters in senior RHP John Leonard and junior RHP Mike Dennhardt. Leonard went 2-3 with a 7.53 ERA while Dennhardt was 4-7 with a 7.22 ERA.