Usually, at this point in the season when conference play has started or is about to start for most conferences, we are talking about how deep the SEC is and how there are no weekends off for any contender in the SEC.
This year, that conference is the ACC.
#8 Louisville is fresh off a tough road series loss at #4 Georgia Tech and they have to turn around and host a hot #14 Boston College team, who itself is just coming off of an intriguing road series win on the Plains at Auburn.
That series was intriguing because it was scheduled last Wednesday due to COVID cancellations by their former opponents and not many in SEC country expected BC to be able to go on the road and take the series from Auburn. It was even more shocking because BC was down 9-1 entering the ninth inning and then later in the frame, they were down to their last strike, still down 9-3. A walk, a double, and a three-run home run later and the game was tied. Boston College 2B Luke Gold then hit a two-run home run in the top of the 10th to seal it for the Eagles. Those 10 runs in two half-innings is enough to change the season outlook for both teams. BC could leverage this road series win into a potential NCAA tournament host bid and Auburn might be in some trouble come SEC play. A lot can change in the blink of an eye or the swing of a bat.
BC has a scary offense, enough to put a scare into the Louisville pitching staff this weekend. They are led offensively by Juniors Sal Frelick (CF) and Cody Morissette (3B) and on the mound by righty Mason Pelio. You can read more about this trio as prospects here. Frelick is currently on a torrid pace to start the year, hitting .478 so far this short year and is fourth in the country in hits. His teammate Morissette might boast a slightly lower batting average, but he is really patient at the plate, drawing the third most walks in the ACC. Not to be outdone, Luke Gold is currently ninth in the country with five home runs. Suffice it to say that they are all studs and will likely be picked early in the draft this year.
BC is a team with plenty of talent on it, but not much history of success, which is why many around the country might not have seen this hot start coming*. A series win at Duke, who itself is talented and ranked, was how the Eagles started ACC play. It helped key many in on just how much potential this team has going forward. One question that still exists for this team is how the pitching staff can hold up against an electric offense, like Louisville’s, for example. If they can find a little consistency on the mound and start limiting the walks (173rd in the country in walks allowed per nine innings), they could definitely contend in the ACC. If that does not happen and they lose this series, however, Boston College still has time to get back in the ACC race with 33 more conference games to go.
For Louisville, the names are well-known: Henry Davis (C), Alex Binelas (3B), and Levi Usher (OF), just to name a few. This group of sluggers leads one of the better offenses in the country (17th in hits, 45th in team batting average), and looks to be the strong suit of this team going forward. Head coach Dan McDonnell loves to coach his team to create havoc on the base paths and they are continuing that trend, leading the country in stolen bases.
To say Louisville is a bad team after this past weekend on the road against Georgia Tech would be extremely unfair. They might have played uncharacteristically poor defense and struggled on the mound, but they were competitive in all three games, and even took the Friday night game without staff ace Glenn Albanese. The return of Albanese should help this team find some consistency on the mound. There is a lot of ACC play left this year and Louisville will have its hands full with the bevy of contenders on its schedule, but there is certainly no need to panic yet.
Kyle’s Prediction: I predict that we, the audience, will have fun watching home runs and high-scoring innings! I also think that Louisville’s arms will be just enough to take this series for the Cardinals. On the podcast this week, I picked Louisville to sweep BC, but that was just because John had already picked Louisville to go 2-1. That is more like what I expect to happen. For BC to take this series, they will need runners on the base paths and pressure on Louisville’s pitching staff, which is looking to make a name for itself after last week’s debacle.
*Fine, I’ll say it. I didn’t see it coming.