Easter weekend means a couple of things. On the one hand, it is the first holiday of the spring season, and if you are a college baseball fan, it also means that the halfway point of the conference schedule has arrived. Such is the case in the Atlantic Coast Conference where the scramble is now on for position in division races as well as seeding in the upcoming tournament. Both division races are tight as the second half of the season gets underway this weekend. So let’s take a look at what is going on in the ACC.
The Atlantic Division has been a dogfight between the Louisville Cardinal and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. As the second half gets started, the Cardinal own a percentage points lead over the Irish. The two teams met during the first half with the teams splitting two games with one not played because of weather. The #5 Cardinal begin the final stretch of games at home versus Florida State who sit in third place in the Atlantic, four full games behind Louisville in the standings. The #12 Fighting Irish will also be home this weekend playing Georgia Tech in a crossover series. The Irish are also sitting pretty when it comes to NCAA postseason play as they lead six teams from the conference who are ranked in the Top-45 of the latest NCAA RPI poll.
One reason why the Irish are getting so much attention is that they are winning series. On Monday, they completed a series win over the Pittsburgh Panthers. The win was the fifth straight series win on the road dating back to the 2020 season. It is the first time since the 2001-02 year that the Irish have won five series in a row on the road. Monday’s series-clinching win was all about the long ball as Notre Dame hit four home runs in the 11-5 win. It was their first four-homer game since 2018 versus Western Michigan.
In the Coastal Division, a half-game separates three teams. Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Miami are locked in quite a battle for the top spot in the division. Miami took advantage of the holiday weekend in a big way as they swept Duke. They become the only league school to do this and will take a five-game winning streak into their mid-week game against FIU. Over the weekend, the Hurricanes will travel to Pittsburgh. The third team in this race also hit the road as Virginia Tech heads to Wake Forest.
The ACC Pitcher Of The Week is Chris Villaman of North Carolina State. The left-hander threw his first career complete game last Tuesday. He allowed just one hit in a 3-0 shutout win over UNC Greensboro. The freshman permitted only four hitters to reach base and struck out a career-best nine batters. Villaman became the first Wolfpack pitcher to throw a one-hit shutout since Feb. 15, 1997. He is also the first N.C. State hurler to toss any shutout since March 30, 2019.
The Player Of The Week is Miami catcher Adrian Del Castillo. In a 4-0 week for the Hurricanes, Del Castillo batted .471 (8-for-17) with three doubles, seven RBI, and six runs scored. In the mid-week rout of FIU, he was 2-for-4 with three runs scored and a career-high four runs batted in. Last weekend at Duke, Del Castillo was big in both Saturday and Sunday games. On Saturday, he was 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Then on Sunday, he went 2-for-4 with another run driven in. His week’s worth of offense earned him the NCBWA National Hitter of The Week honor. It’s the third straight week that the ACC has been recognized with a national hitter of the week.
That is all for this week. Next week we will be back with more from the ACC.