FSU Baseball opens ACC play by hosting BC Eagles: Series Preview

Not only is it a big weekend for FSU Basketball as their first tournament games starts tonight but the beginning of ACC Play in baseball opens up as well.  The Noles welcome in the Boston College Eagles this weekend for a 3 game set starting tonight at 6:00 PM.  Before previewing both teams lets take a look at how Florida State has fared statistically this year compared to the same point in time last year.

OFFENSE:

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The first thing to be noted is that a 12-13 game sample size is not the best to go on but it is about 1/4th of the total regular season so you have to make due with what you have.  The numbers are pretty consistent with the offensive output we saw a year ago and given the loss of Tyler Holt and the implementation of the new bats I would find that pretty impressive.  The one bit of concern is that FSU hitters are striking out at a much higher rate than last year and as opponent pitching improves this could hurt the Noles.

PITCHING:

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If you have not yet attended a college baseball game live this year you truly don’t have an appreciation of just how dead the new bats are.  Pitchers are no longer afraid of a weak hitting undersized 2B making decent contact and launching the ball 400ft over the wall.  The biggest evidence of this is the Noles’ pitching staff vastly improved K:BB ratio.  The BB/9 ratio for FSU has almost been cut in half and if the staff can keep that up they will limit opponent scoring opportunities giving FSU a better chance of winning.

Inside we will have a quick preview of Boston College and what we can expect this weekend.

The Boston College Eagles are coming into the 2011 season with a brand new Head Coach after the all time winningest coach Mik Aoki left for Notre Dame.  BC is off to a 6-5 record this season but given its competition that is not bad, 4 of the 5 losses have come at the hands of Coastal Carolina and #1 ranked Florida Gators.  Here is a preview from www.eastonbaseball.com on what BC will bring to the table.

BOSTON COLLEGE (30-28, 14-16)

  • 2010 RPI: 46

  • Starters Returning: 5

  • Weekend Starters: 2

  • Mid-Week Starters: 2

  • Key Relievers (20+inns.): 2

All Conference Candidates:

  • 3B Anthony Melchionda (.358-7-41)

  • SS Brad Zapenas (.318, 6Es)

  • RHP Taylor Lasko (4-2, 5.14)

  • RHP Matt Brazis (1-0, 4.73, 9svs)

The Good News:

In the grand scheme of things, BC has acclimated well to the move to the ACC, especially when you consider a season where the RPI finished at No. 46 as a "disappointment." The Eagles know exactly where their strong suit will be this year as they finished 3rd in the country in defense last year and will return 2B Matt Hamlet (.291, 10SBs, just 3Es), SS Brad Zapenas and 3B Anthony Melchionda. They’ll also have the comfort of senior catcher Garrett Smith (.221, .978 defense) to call the signals behind the dish. The arms crew will have three guys back with starting experience in righties Taylor Lasko, Mike Dennhardt (4-7, 7.22) and John Leonard (2-2, 6.04), who combined for 30 starts last season. But BC will definitely benefit from a full, injury-free season from Leonard, who only threw the last half of 2010, but was drafted by the Giants last June. The Eagles got a bonus whe 38th round draftee Tom Bourdon, a strong-armed outfielder, decided to bypass the pros and come to campus. He’s just the kind of incoming talent BC needs to excel in the ACC.

The Bad News:

First of all, Mik Aoki, the most successful coach in BC’s modern era, moved on to Notre Dame. New coach Mike Gambino has some challenges ahead of him, including regaining the team’s confidence after the Eagles looked to be on their way to another run toward the Big Dance, but then went on a 6-11 stretch run in the month of May that cost them precious RPI points. The offense will lose three of the top five bats, including school home run king Mickey Wiswall. A team ERA of 6.71 just won’t cut it in the ACC. Let’s talk again about RHP John Leonard, who was 4-0, 5.27 as a frosh, but he needs to revert to that form as he has gone 3-8, 7.25 since then (although shoulder problems early last season hampered his work). There is certainly a need for some left-handed pitching to emerge as all six returnees of significance are righties.

The 2011 Boston College team has not put up numbers anywhere near what Florida State has and that is for 2 main reasons.  One, they clearly don’t have the talent and coaching that FSU does and two, their strength of schedule has been much more difficult (BC SOS – 40 vs FSU SOS – 163).  Offensively the Eagles have managed just an OPS of .745 compared to the Noles .951.  Boston College hitters are also striking out much more than they are walking (BB:K - 0.60) while FSU is averaging just over 1 walk per strikeout.  The pitching hasn’t fared much better as the Eagles rank last in the ACC in ERA (5.72) and OBA (.301).  To paint a clearer picture the Eagles staff ranks last in hits allowed per 9 innings and has a terrible K:BB ratio of 1.5.

Florida State is better in every aspect of the game but predicting a sweep in the ACC is tough to do, Nole fans should be happy with a series win.

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