Already off to a strong start, the Wolfpack will look to continue its dominance as conference play begins.
Though the start of the 2018 season was expected to be good, NC State (11-2) presumably didn’t predict just how strong the team would be at this point. With only two losses and one of the nations best hitters leading the charge, the Wolfpack opens its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule this Friday. Here’s a look at how State has been up to this point and how its first opponent, Boston College, has fared.
Wolfpack To Date
Last time out, the Pack came away with a win in its first road game of the season as it edged its way past Campbell Wednesday afternoon, 4-1. The weekend prior, State picked up two more wins, including another victory over the Camels on Saturday by a 21-4 margin, while dropping its game Sunday against Canisius, 3-2.
The loss to the Golden Griffins snapped an eight-game winning streak, but it also broke the Wolfpack’s streak of consecutive games with at least nine runs scored. State has been pounding the baseball, averaging 8.9 runs per game, and junior outfielder Brett Kinneman has been the team’s biggest catalyst.
The York, Pa. native is currently tied for the NCAA Division I lead in home runs with eight, tied for second in the nation in RBIs with 25, and tied for fourth in DI baseball in hits with 24. Kinneman leads all three categories in the ACC. His recent success has earned NC State’s starting left fielder the conference’s and the nation’s player of the week award for the last two weeks in a row.
Despite the team’s few missteps, the Wolfpack’s 11-2 record is only fourth in the conference. However, the three teams ahead of NC State are all in the Atlantic Division with the Pack: Florida State (13-0), Louisville (12-0), and Clemson (12-1). Duke and Pittsburgh both lead the Coastal Division with 10-2 records each.
Previewing the Eagles
Boston College (5-6) currently sits sixth in the Atlantic and is coming off a 12-10 loss to Wofford. The last time the two teams met, the Pack took the win in Louisville, Ky. in the 2017 ACC Baseball Championship Tournament, 6-1.
Without an official home game until this Tuesday against Holy Cross, head coach Mike Gambino’s Eagles have been in the Carolinas since last weekend when Boston College played three games at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, N.C. BC defeated Niagara last Friday, 11-3. However, the Birds were clipped by Bryant on Saturday by a final score of 9-8 before the Army Black Knights slammed the Eagles Sunday, 11-1.
The Eagles are led offensively by freshman outfielder Chris Galland. The Sudbury, Mass. native is currently batting .583 which leads the ACC. Boston College’s run support has mainly come off the bat of senior infielder Jake Palomaki who already has 11 RBI on the season while batting .396, third on the team.
BC’s most reliable arm out of the bullpen is junior right-hander Thomas Lane. The Georgetown, Mass. product has a 1-0 record, an 0.82 earned run average, and the team’s only save on record this season.
Starting Pitcher Matchup
Much like the rest of the season thus far, senior southpaw Brian Brown will get the start on the mound for the Wolfpack Friday afternoon. Brown has a perfect 3-0 record with an 0.50 ERA and a team-high 20 strikeouts in 18 innings of work thus far. Opposing Brown will be Eagle junior righty Jacob Stevens. The Boston College starter has a 2-1 mark with a 3.38 ERA in 13-1/3 innings. Stevens is second on the team in strikeouts with 19 while allowing 12 hits and five walks.
Saturday’s contest will pit NC State graduate student right-handed pitcher Johnny Piedmonte against Boston College junior southpaw Dan Metzdorf. Piedmonte is 2-0 on the year with a 3.38 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 16 innings of work. Meanwhile, Metzdorf is 0-1 on the year with an 8.71 ERA. The Burlington, Mass. product has given up 12 runs, 10 earned, in 10-1/3 innings while surrendering 20 hits and six walks.
Boston College will send senior right-hander Brian Rapp to the mound Sunday afternoon to face the Pack. Rapp already has a 4.70 earned run average with a 1-1 record. However, he leads the Eagles in strikeouts with 24 and has 15-1/3 frames under his belt this season. The Wolfpack has yet to name a Sunday starter.
Around the League & This Weekend’s Series
The Wolfpack and the Eagles won’t be the only teams starting their respective conference schedules as the rest of the ACC will swing into the most grueling part of the season as well.
In the Atlantic, Florida State and Wake Forest will also face off in intradivisional play for a three game series. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh will take on Virginia Tech while Virginia faces Duke in Coastal Division play.
This weekend’s interdivisional play will see Clemson host Georgia Tech while North Carolina travels to face Louisville. Finally, Notre Dame and Miami will begin their three-game series in Coral Gables, Fla.
Friday’s first pitch from Doak Field between NC State and Boston College is scheduled for 3 p.m. from Doak Field. The teams will reconvene Saturday at 2 p.m. and will conclude the series Sunday at 1 p.m.