College baseball is back and not a moment too soon. Last season’s cancellation of the year was disappointing to all even if the reason for doing it was spot on. The Atlantic Coast Conference, after a weekend of games that were of the non-conference variety, is set to begin league play this upcoming weekend. The league has decided on a 12-series, 36-game schedule. Teams will be allowed to play mid-week games that can total up to 14 contests. This means that the max any team can play this year will be 50 games. So with all that in mind, let’s take a look at how last weekend went in the ACC.
It was a very good three-day stretch for the league. The league captured all 13-non conference series that were played. The league ended up with a combined overall record of 30-7 (.818), including a 21-4 mark at home. There were six teams that posted a combined 16-0 record against their opponents. During the shortened year that was 2020, Atlantic Coast Conference teams went 141-78 (.746) versus non-league foes. The league was 102-19 when playing these teams at home.
The marquee matchup of the first weekend of games took place in Gainesville, Florida. The then #1 team in the preseason poll, the Florida Gators, took on #11 Miami Hurricanes. This was the 11th time that these two programs began their year playing each other. When the dust settled, it was the Hurricanes that took the series. The win jumped Miami up to #3 in the new poll while dropping the Gators down to #7. For Miami, it was their first series win over Florida since 2014. It was their first series win on the road versus the Gators since 2009.
The first ACC Player of The Week is of the co-player variety. Hurricanes outfielder Christian Del Castillo, and Louisville outfielder Cameron Masterman shared the award. Del Castillo had a big series in Gainesville. He hit .333 and drove in six runs in the three games. The left-handed-hitting transfer from Seton Hall had a .917 OPS, scored two runs, stole a base, and recorded an outfield assist. On opening night, Del Castillo went two-for-three with three RBI in a loss to the top-ranked team. On Saturday, he drove in a run during a comeback win to even the series. Then on Sunday, he had two hits and drove in two runs as Miami took the rubber game and the series as well.
Masterman put up some big offensive numbers for Louisville in their sweep of Bellamine. The junior from Prospect, Kentucky went 6-for-11 (.545) at the dish with a home run in each of the three games. He would end the series as the early conference leader in HR with three, total bases (15), tied for the lead in hits with six, and is second in RBI with six. The Cardinals are back home this weekend to take on Western Illinois.
The ACC Pitcher of The Week is North Carolina’s, Austin Love. He made his first career start on Friday vs James Madison. Love went six innings of no-hit ball before leaving the contest. The sophomore from Sailsbury, North Carolina struck out a career-high nine hitters while walking two. His performance and that of his bullpen mates helped the Tar Heels to an 8-1 victory over the Dukes and hand head coach Scott Forbes his first win as coach of the Tar Heels.
There will be one schedule change for this week. The good news is it has nothing to do with the virus. Instead, it has to do with bad weather in the Chapel Hill area for this weekend. The three-game series between North Carolina and #2 Virginia will get started on Thursday instead of Friday. It will finish up on Saturday, not Sunday. While the Clemson Tigers will play their annual three-game set vs South Carolina beginning on Friday. All three games will be played at different sites, Friday at Clemson, Saturday at Greenville, and Sunday at Columbia, S.C.
Next week we will have more from the ACC.
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