Road to Louisville: The Final Week
By Anthony Iati
Rain once again cut into the Boston College Baseball (21-26, 8-19 ACC) schedule this weekend, washing out the finale of a non-conference series against the Quinnipiac Bobcats. The Eagles swept the abbreviated series by winning both ends of Saturday’s twin billing, 5-1 and 3-0. Mike Gambino’s Birds got excellent pitching from Jacob Stevens, Dan Metzdorf, and Brian Rapp, as the trio combined to throw 13 innings, allowing a lone run on just four hits.
While BC was tuning up against a MAAC opponent, several ACC series impacted the Birds’ chances of reaching the conference tournament in Louisville at the end of May. Under an expanded format, 2017 will be the first time 12 teams qualify for the ACC Tournament. Only two teams will miss the cut. With three conference games left for most teams, BC is in danger of being one of the bottom-dwellers cut. Let’s take a look at the relevant results of this past weekend and see what pathways to Louisville remain for the Birds.
NC State pulled off a road sweep of Pittsburgh to improve to 13-13 ACC. The Panthers dropped to 8-18 and have lost five straight.
Virginia Tech lost two of three at home to North Carolina, including a 20-0 drubbing on Sunday. The Hokies sit at 9-17 and own the tiebreaker over BC.
Georgia Tech lost two of three at Duke and is also 9-17. The Blue Devils used the series win to vault 3.5 games ahead of BC at 11-15.
Notre Dame, BC’s next opponent, also played a non-conference series. The Fighting Irish won two of three vs. Austin Peay. ND enters the Birdcage Thursday with a record of 10-17, two games ahead of BC.
NC State and Duke ensured this weekend that they cannot be caught by BC. There are four teams BC can mathematically finish ahead of: Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Pitt. Click here to see the current standings. Next weekend, GT hosts Virginia, VT is at Miami, and Pitt is at Wake Forest. In terms of the Eagles:
If Boston College SWEEPS Notre Dame…the Birds would finish at 11-19. That would put BC ahead of Notre Dame, leaving just one more team to catch. That could happen in any one of the following ways: (1) Pitt fails to sweep a very good WF team on the road, (2) VT loses its series at Miami, or (3) GT loses its series vs. UVA. Have to like the odds of one of those outcomes going BC’s way.
If Boston College WINS TWO of three from Notre Dame…the Birds would finish at 10-20. This would not be good enough for BC to pass the Irish, who would be 11-19. BC would then need two of the following scenarios: (1) Pitt wins zero or one games against Wake, (2) VT gets swept, (3) GT gets swept. Despite a recent slide by ND, even one BC loss to the Irish really damages the Birds’ chances of reaching Louisville, as a sweep is the only way BC can leapfrog ND.
If Boston College LOSES TWO of three from Notre Dame…the Birds would finish at 9-21 and would be eliminated. The best BC could do in this scenario is finish in 13th place with a Demon Deacon sweep of Pitt. But even if the Hokies and Yellow Jackets each got swept, those teams would be 9-20, 0.5 games ahead of Boston College.
So the Holy War at the Birdcage is a mathematical must-win series for BC in order to reach Louisville. Losing two out of three at Wake Forest in their last ACC series severely hurt the Birds’ chances, but Wake is a really strong team, especially offensively, and can make some noise in postseason play.
There is reason for BC fans to keep the faith. In its last nine conference games, Notre Dame has been outscored 68-18. The Irish are 4-12 on the road. BC should play with all the fire it can muster knowing not only that its season hangs in the balance, but also that the series is slated to be the final one ever played on Pellagrini Diamond at Commander Shea Field. The Birds will move to a new facility on Brighton campus for the 2018 season.
Tune into the WZBC Sports broadcasts of all three games vs. ND, plus the tilt with Maine on Tuesday afternoon. Please check out our schedule here for links to listen to all four games!