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The Inside Pitch: Boston College

The Boston College Eagles finished the 2011 season with a 17-33 overall while going 7-22 in ACC play. The biggest victory came over the University of Virginia on April 30th in 11 innings as Anthony Melchionda hit a game winning double to give the Eagles the walkoff victory.

This biggest issue in 2011 for the Eagles was starting pitching which suffered several injuries during preseason workouts and during the non-conference portion of the schedule. They ended up finishing the season with only one starting pitcher and going with the bullpen for all other games. They finished the campaign with the worst ERA in the ACC at 5.63.The 2012 squad is still going to have inexperience on the bump but should be strong according to BC head coach Mike Gambino.

Leading the charge will be sophomore Eric Stevens. The lanky right hander out of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, and Don Bosco Prep had his ups and downs last year but finished the season with a 2-1 record and a 4.38 ERA. BC head coach Mike Gambino said, “We put Eric into some tough situations as a freshman including getting a start at Florida. His results were not the greatest but he has a chance to be our number one for us this season.”

The other two spots in the rotation are currently wide open right now for the Eagles with juniors Matt Alvarez, Hunter Gordon, Taylor Lasko, senior Kyle Prohovich and freshman Eric Stone all battling for a spot in the rotation.

The Eagles offense was struggled in 2011 with a .258 team batting average which was the 10th-best out of the 12 team ACC last season. The biggest loss on the offensive side of the ball is Garret Smith who served as an everything player seeing time at first base, catcher, and on the mound during the 2011 season. Gambino stated, “It is near impossible to replace a kid that gives you that amount of versatility but it has to be done.”

The top returning player is senior infielder Anthony Melchionda. Last season saw him finish second on the team with a .304 batting average with a homer and a team-high 34 RBI. The Eagles will be moving him to shortstop this season as he spent last year splitting time between first and third base.

“I believe Anthony Melchionda is a sleeper for ACC Player of the Year. I think he can be that good. He has turned into a really good baseball player at Boston College,” boasted Gambino. “He will be moving over to shortstop this season for us. He is a kid that you watch that might not be quick enough for the position but every time the ball is hit there and it is supposed to be an out, it is an out.”

Sophomore center fielder Tommy Bourdon is another key bat returning. He had a solid freshman season hitting .289 with a homer and 17 RBI in 49 games. “We put him at the bottom of the order, where he took some lumps but he has worked hard this fall and will be a key part of our lineup,” said Gambino.

Joining Bourdon in the outfield will be junior Matt McGovern. Last year, he hit .371 in 34 games (30 starts) as he was plagued with an early season injury. “He brings another dimension to our team with his speed at the top of the lineup. Last year, he was getting a feel on the base paths but he has improved with getting his jumps off of pitchers and should be a force out there for us,” said Gambino.

The biggest battle will be at the catcher spot between junior Matt Paré and sophomore Nate LaPointe.

Paré had an injury filled 2011 season which saw him play in 28 games (27 starts) while struggling at the plate with a .207 batting average and 11 RBI. “The one thing about Matt Paré is the fact he hits. Last season he was dealing with a shoulder issue which was affecting his swing last season. He is working extremely hard at getting better behind the plate,” said Gambino.

LaPointe on the other hand played in 20 games hitting .282 with a homer and eight RBI. “I would put Nate’s throwing ability up against anyone in the country. He has immense raw power but sometimes needs to learn how to harness it. LaPointe has worked a ton on his catching since coming to BC and has been getting better everyday.”

Gambino was noncommittal at who would start the season out behind the plate but said, “A catcher by committee is not out of the question at this time.”

The impact freshmen for the 2012 season are Travis Ferrick, John Gorman, Tyler Hinchliffe, Eric Stone and Blake Butera.

Travis Ferrick was a late signee for the Eagles in March of 2011 from Colonial Forge High School. According to Gambino, “He was born with the hit gene,” and will be able to make an impact in the lineup this season.

Gorman is a local product out of Norwood, Massachusetts, and Catholic Memorial who is expected to challenge for a starting spot at one of the corner infield positions. He will also see time on the mound according to Gambino.

Hinchcliffe is from Highland High School in New Jersey and could be the starting first baseman or challenging for some time in the outfield. He is expected to give the Eagles another lefthanded arm on the mound which they only had one last season.

The two other players that will see quality time are West Haven, CT native Eric Stone who will see time on the rubber while Blake Butera is expected to compete for the starting spot at second base with sophomore John Hennessy.

The Eagles will open the 2012 campaign in a tournament hosted by Coastal Carolina on Febraury 17th when they take on ACC opponent Virginia in a non-conference matchup.