We have now reached the final week of the regular season in the ACC with plenty still left to be decided. Most important is who will be the twelve teams that will be heading to Louisville KY. for the postseason tournament.
As of this writing, the two teams on the outside looking in so to speak are Boston College in the Atlantic Division with a league record of 8-19. They are two games back in the loss column of Notre Dame. The good news for the Eagles is their final weekend series of the year just happen to be the Fighting Irish and the three-game set begins on Thursday, May 18 at Shea Field in Chesnutt Hill. For the Irish, who sit at 10-17 in the conference, all they need to do is just win and they will punch their ticket to the ACC tournament. Both teams are coming off non-conference weekend series, for ND they took two from Austin Peay, BC took a pair from Quinnipiac.
In the Coastal Division, it’s a little more complex with the Pittsburgh Panthers sitting at the bottom of the division with a record of 8-19. However, the difference between them and the Eagles is they could have a chance to leapfrog a couple of teams with a good weekend. They find themselves only a game behind the team in front of them in the standings which is Virginia Tech who at the moment stands at 9-18. Pittsburgh is only two games back of the team ahead of the Hokies, which is the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets who sit at 10-17 in the league. Pittsburgh will finish the season on the road as they will head to Wake Forest for a three-game series that also begins on Thursday. For Georgia Tech, they will end the regular season at home facing a tough opponent in Virginia on Thursday. Plenty of scoreboard watching to be sure as the last weekend unfolds.
They say that good pitching is sometimes hard to find, and when you do take advantage of it. There are two teams in the league that is doing just that. The Louisville Cardinals boast the best pitching staff in the league by the numbers. In 51 games played to date, the Cardinals possess the best ERA in the league at 2.60. They have given up 133 earned runs in 461 innings pitched. Their top two starters find themselves in the top half of the individual leaders as well. Brandon McKay is at the top of the categories with an 8-3 record and a 1.80 ERA. In 80 innings of work, he has only allowed 46 hits and 16 earned runs while strikeout out 110 batters. That number leads the league by 12. His running mate in the starting rotation, Nick Bennett, is fourth on the list with an ERA of 2.42. In 52 innings pitched he has surrendered 43 hits and 14 earned runs while punching out 48 hitters. A pretty lethal one two punch in the Cardinal staff to be sure.
North Carolina can make the same statement with their ace J.B. Bukauskas who in 75 innings pitched has only given up 48 hits and 15 earned runs. While posting a record that is unblemished at 8-0. The Tar Heels number two guy is also pretty good. His name is Luca Dalatri who is tenth in pitching standings with a record of 5-3 and an ERA of 3.11. He has allowed 72 hits in 81 innings which is high but has only 28 earned runs and 71 strikeouts. The one thing all of these pitchers have in common is they walk very few hitters and to beat these guys you have to put the ball in play.
On the offensive side of the game, a man having himself a fine season is Wake Forest Gavin Sheets who leads the ACC in home runs with 18, and RBI with 72. He is fourth on the conference stats sheet in total bases with 125. Another man who is getting it done for the Demon Deacons is Stuart Fairchild who is third in runs scored with 53 and third in total bases at 126. These will be two guys that the Pittsburgh pitching staff will have to pay attention to this weekend and not let them beat you.
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