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Interdonato Takes Over: Birdball Season Preview

It's reached that time of the year in early spring for the Boston College Baseball season to commence. The 2024 version of "Birdball" should provide fans with the most optimism they have had about the team in years. This is largely because 2023 was one of the best seasons in school history, with BC compiling a 37-20 record and reaching the #9 ranking in the country. The team narrowly missed out on hosting a regional NCAA tournament in Brighton, but they ultimately fell to Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

It will undoubtedly be a tough act to follow for the 2024 team, with Head Coach Mike Gambino leaving for Penn State. Former skipper of the Wofford Terriers, Todd Interdonato, is taking over the helm, bringing over a winning mindset from a successful program that produced conference championships and draft picks. It won't be an easy job for Interdonato, however, as BC has been picked to finish towards the bottom of the ACC this season despite their accomplishments last season.

Their predicted struggles have much to do with a handful of core players from last year's squad being drafted into MLB. The two most notable players missing from the 2023 season are key bats Travis Honeyman and Joe Vatrano. Vatrano anchored the team's offense with 22 home runs, a .315 average, and an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.078. Honeyman also hit over .300 in his junior season in 2023 and was a second-team preseason All-American. He was selected in the third round of this past summer's MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.

It won't be easy filling the void left by Vatrano and Honeyman, but BC can turn to outfielder Barry Walsh to carry the offense in 2024. Last year, he was second on the team in batting average with a mark of .314, and he also led the team in stolen bases with 14. One could argue, though, that Walsh shined even more on the defensive side of the ball out in center field, making countless superb catches all season. Nick Wang will likely move over from third base across the diamond to first, and he was also one of the Eagle's strongest power bats in 2023. He hit 11 home runs in total and improved consistently at the plate as the season progressed.

Two more key spark plugs that Birdball will rely on in 2024 are seniors Cameron Leary and Vince Cimini. Leary showed his upside on both sides last season in the team's signature win over #2 Tennessee. Not only did he cut down the game-winning run at home plate in the 9th, but he also hit the game-winning homer an inning later. Cimini will fill Wang's opening at third base and provide a solid bat and proven experience for the Eagles. The rest of the infield is stabilized by mainstays Patrick Roche and Sam McNulty, who have been returning from the team since the year prior.

The pitching has greater question marks than the offense, with the biggest loss being ace Chris Flynn, who graduated this past spring. The team also lost reliable #2 starter Henry Leake, leaving many holes in a rotation that wasn't exactly the team's strong point last season. Look for senior John West to step up and lead the pitching staff after he went 5-3 last season in 17 starts. The only other pitchers who appeared for last year's squad that remain on the team in 2024 are Bobby Chicoine, A.J. Colarusso, and Eric Schroeder. Fans can expect all of these pitchers to have to eat up significant innings for the Eagles in 2024.

Being in the Atlantic Coast Conference, it is no surprise that BC's 2024 schedule won't be an easy one. Championship favorite Wake Forest comes to Chestnut Hill in mid-April. The Eagles will also play ranked teams like Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, NC State, and Virginia. The team's first game was on February 16th against Ohio State in Phoenix, and their first conference game was on March 8th against NC State.

There is undoubtedly a lot of turnover and many question marks when it comes to the 2024 iteration of Boston College Baseball. Despite that uncertainty, the Eagles undoubtedly have the pieces to not only compete at a high level but also duplicate much of the success they had in the season prior. The familiar faces and the new names should allow for an exciting baseball season on the heights.

Christian Cataldo
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