This has been a college baseball season of surprise instead of change. In the ACC, that seems to be the only way to describe how the league has played out to this point. Teams that were not expected to do much in the league find themselves in position to win division titles and possibly earn a spot in the NCAA Baseball Tournament come May. If you are a fan of this league, the one thing that jumps out at you is the depth from top to bottom that has been on display since the year began. Let’s take a look at that depth and the rest of the league news.
Three teams, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame stand out when it comes to the unexpected that this league is showing on a weekly basis. All three of these teams were picked to finish no higher than sixth in their division. Yet, as we reached the halfway point of April, all three of these programs have given themselves a shot at having a spring to remember. The Hokies sit atop the Coastal division at 14-7 in league play. They own a two-game lead in the loss column on Pittsburgh. Last weekend, Virginia Tech went on the road and swept Wake Forest with the help of the long ball. They smashed ten home runs in the series and by doing so set a school record. They also have the leading hitter in the league in Gavin Cross who is hitting .400. More on him later. This weekend, the Hokies are home to take on Georgia Tech who is tied for second place in the Coastal, two games back of Virginia Tech.
Pittsburgh (12-9) has been a major surprise this year in the ACC. Last weekend, the Panthers made believers of the Miami Hurricanes by sweeping them at home. They are just the second team in the conference to sweep both Florida State and Miami in the same season (Clemson in 2006). This spring’s ranking is the first for this program since 2014 as they are ranked outside the top-20 in four of the polls. This weekend, Pittsburgh is back at home taking on a North Carolina squad that needs a series win to get back in the race in the Coastal division.
The Fighting Irish find themselves just percentage points behind the Louisville Cardinal for the top spot in the Atlantic division. The Irish (14-6) have been on the chase since the conference season got started. Last weekend’s series win over the Yellow Jackets was ND ACC-leading sixth of the season. They are the only team in the league that can make the statement that they have won all of their conference series to date. The Irish are ranked in all six of the college baseball polls. In two of them, Notre Dame is ranked in the top-10. A first since April 24, 2006.
The ACC Player of the Week is Virginia Tech’s Gavin Cross. The outfielder had himself quite a week for the team. It started with going for the cycle in a mid-week non-conference game vs East Tennessee State. Cross went 4-for-6 with seven RBI in the 15-5 win. In the series sweep of the Demon Decanos, Cross had a hit in every game. He went 3-for-5 on Friday night with a HR. On Saturday, he went 2-for-5 with another long ball. Then on Sunday, Cross scored twice and had a double to help the Hokies finished off the sweep of the series. For the week, Cross went 10-for-20 .500, with three home runs, seven runs scored, nine runs batted in, two doubles, and one triple.
The Pitcher of the Week is North Carolina State Wolfpack right-hander Matt Willadsen. He logged the first complete game of his career on Sunday when he tossed a two-hit shutout of Boston College on the road. He fanned five in the outing and retired 15 straight BC hitters from the first through the six innings in helping his team to a 7-0 win. He never allowed an extra-base hit in the start. Willadsen is the third Wolfpack pitcher to go the distance this year, and NC State is the only team to have more than one pitcher throw a completed game this season.
That’s it for this week. Next week we will be back with more from the ACC.