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Birdball’s New Era: Previewing the Eagles' schedule ahead of the 2024 season

Joey Vetrano is gone. Travis Honeyman is gone. Mike Gambino is gone.

It's a new era on the Heights as Todd Interdonato looks to establish Boston College as a New England powerhouse and a nationally relevant program.

The Eagles rode a ten-game win streak, including a win over #2 Tennessee in Knoxville, all the way to the program's first ever top-ten ranking and an eventual ACC and NCAA tournament bid.

There’s no time to rest for a new look Birdball as they play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in school history. The action gets started at the MLB Classic down in Scottsdale, Arizona where they’ll play three games. Teams are yet to be announced but last year's field was deep, including Arizona, Michigan State, and Fresno State, and San Diego. The road starts there but big time games will continue throughout the spring, both in and out of New England.

Battle for Boston

The Eagles will look to defend their Beanpot Title in a rematch of last year's championship game on April 2nd when they face Harvard. Boston College won the title game last year on a Nick Wang walk-off home run to give the Eagles the 5-4 victory. The Crimson finished the season with a record of 20-24 (15-6, Ivy), good enough for a berth in the inaugural Ivy League tournament as the two seed. They would place third in the tournament, defeating Princeton in the first round before falling to top-seeded Penn and then losing the rematch with the Tigers.

Boston College will then face whichever team has the same result as them in the second round, either for the Beanpot Championship or in the third place match. The other semi-final pits Northeastern vs UMass Amherst, with the Minutemen traveling to Boston for the matchup. UMass replaces Boston University in the Baseball version of the city’s championship due to the Terriers dropping the program in 1996, after going 12-100 in the programs final three varsity seasons from 1993-1995. Northeastern is coming off of a 44-16 season which saw them reach the CAA Title Game and receive a bid to the NCAA tournament. The University of Massachusetts Amherst continues their rebuild, hoping that key incoming transfers can help them improve off of their 14-35 record last season.

Regional Rivalries.

Unlike most sports and regions, baseball programs in New England can not load their schedule with regional opponents, largely due to the necessity of playing games down South due to the weather. Still, BC made a concerted effort to get as many regional opponents on the schedule as possible. This season they’ll play ten games against schools from across five of the six New England states (No school in Vermont has a D1 baseball program).

In your snow-out favorite of the year, Boston College is currently slated to have their home opener against Maine on February 28th. Yes, we are scheduled to get baseball in Boston in February. Last season’s home opener was not until March 22nd against Sacred Heart (BC did play in Boston the previous day, traveling to Northeastern). They’re original home opener against Holy Cross was snow/rain/winter-weathered out on March 14th.

Maine made a run all the way to the NCAA tournament last season by winning the America East Tournament. The top seeded Black Bears (32-21, 19-5) ran through the bracket, defeating #5 UMass Lowell, #2 UMBC, and #3 (and hosts) Binghamton en route to the title. They return first baseman Jermiah Jenkings, who should be one of the region's best bats after hitting .362 while driving in 76 with 21 home runs.

In the event the Maine game gets canceled, Merrimack on March 12th will likely serve as the home opener. While not quite the heavyweight matchup it is in hockey, it's a matchup that still has potential to be exciting. Both teams won their most games in years, with 2023 being the first time the Warriors crossed the 20 win mark since 2019.

Northeastern has built itself into one the top programs in the region and are coming off of a season which saw them finish at 44-16. The Huskies return one of the most talented rosters outside of the power conferences, headlined by potential top-ten selection Michael Sirota who put together an impressive season, batting .346 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs. The center fielder's best tool is his plate discipline and eye, boasting one of the nationals lowest chase rates. Fellow Hyannis Harbor Hawks (CCBL) Dennis Colleran is back in the mix at Northeastern and looking to be a top-100 pick after missing 2023 due to Tommy John surgery. The right hander sits in the upper 90s, with potential to run it up near 100, and mixes in a changeup and slider. The Massachusetts native projects as the Huskies closer but could also be a multi-inning option, out of the bullpen. A pair of rising sophomores could also make some noise this season. Cam Maldonado led the team with a .353 average and was named a Freshman All-American, an impressive campaign highlighted by a cycle against UMass in the Beanpot. Aiven Cabral, while unlikely to pitch in the midweek, was impressive last season as the ace of the staff, posting a sub-2.6 ERA (team leader) and a WHIP just north of 1.

Two teams that were in contention to be the first ever school to host a regional in New England will face off in a home and home series spread across March and April. Boston College will travel down to Conneticutt to open the season series on March 26th, before hosting the Huskies April 17th in the return game. UConn finished last season at 44-17 and earned an at-large bid after being shocked by Xavier in the Big East Championship. Paul Tammaro is back for his fifth year after leading the Huskies with a .389 batting average and a .504 on-base-percentage.

Rhode Island will make the short trek up I-95 for an early April matchup. Rhody finished 2023 with a 23-29 record and a 13-11 record in the Atlantic 10, where they qualified for the conference tournament for a third consecutive season. Sophomore two-way player Michael Anderson projects to be a top player in the conference. He was one of two Rams to bat over .300 last season and led the team in doubles (18), while finishing second in runs batted in (43) and third in home runs (10). He is expected to take on a bigger pitching role this season after being used sporadically in 2023.

Dartmouth will be the second Ivy that BC hosts in just over a week stretch when the Big Green come to town on April 10th. Dartmouth look to bounce back from an embarrassing 2023 where they finished just 3-38 (2-19). Lone bright spot in the lineup, Elliot Krewson returns for his junior season. He led Big Green with a .309 average (only player over .250) and was second in RBIs (14).

Finally, UMass Lowell come to town on the last day of April, sandwiched between two big ACC series (Virginia and Louisville), as part of a ten game home stand. The Riverhawks finished last season 20-35 (11-13) and qualified for the America East tournament, winning their first game against Bryant before falling to eventual champion Maine and host Binghamton. Fritz Genther looks to provide some senior leadership as he returns to the lineup after leading the team with a .324 average, 9 home runs, and 47 runs batted in..

B1G Clash In Chestnut Hill

Boston College will welcome 2022 Big 10 Champion Maryland for a two game series in the middle of May. The Terrapins finished last season at 42-21 (17-7) which was good enough to earn the #1 seed in the conference tournament, where they would go on to sweep their way to a perfect 4-0 record and the conference crown behind a pitching staff that had a combined ERA of just 1.22 over the week.

Maryland will be tasked with replacing seven draft picks, none more impactful than 13th overall pick Matt Shaw, who became the programs highest ever draft pick. The shortstop compiled one of the best seasons in program history, batting .341 with 24 home runs and 69 RBIs, on his way to being a consensus first-team All-American and Big 10 Player of The Year. He also had won the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Most Valuable Player award, where he hit for a .360 average and led Bourne to a league title.

The Terrapin roster is still loaded with talent, highlighted by southpaw Kyle McCoy. He was relied on heavily as a true freshman, throwing the fourth most innings on the team (53.1) and strikeouts (39). The New Jersey native is a projected first round pick in 2025 due to his upside and command. If the lefty can bulk up this off season (currently 6’6 195 lbs) and add a few miles per hour to his impressive pitch mix, low 90s fastball paired with a slider and changeup in the low 80s, he could be in line for a breakout season with the potential to be one of the nations best starters for the next two seasons.

In terms of bats, outfielder Elijah Lambros is expected to be the star of the lineup. The rising junior arrived in College Park from the University of South Carolina prior to last season and was one of the most impactful transfers in the country. He reached base at a clip of over .400 and added some much needed pop to the lineup, finishing third on the team with fourteen bombs as well as ten doubles and a pair of triples.The former blue chip recruit out of Virginia also has an above average arm and run tool, allowing him to be a difference maker defensively in center field and on the base paths.

Stay tuned for Part Two: ACC Schedule.

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