As the final month of the ACC season start, division races are still up for grabs. This could become important when the seeds for the tournament are handed out. The least amount of games you have to play, the better off you are. Which makes the next four weeks of conference play exciting. Here is how the races look, along with the rest of the league news.
In the Atlantic, Louisville (14-6) continues to hold the top spot by percentage points over Notre Dame (16-7). This is now a two-team race as Florida State (13-11) is four games back in the loss column. The Cardinal and the Irish both are coming off series wins from last weekend. Both are looking at an interesting matchup this week. For the Cardinal, they have a crossover series with Pittsburgh who is involved in their own division fight in the Coastal. For ND, they will hit the road to take on a Boston College team that is trying to get out of the cellar of the Atlantic and make a final push toward the top half of the division.
The race in the Coastal is a bit more crowded thanks to a first-place showdown last weekend between front-runner Virginia Tech (15-9) and Georgia Tech (14-10). The Yellow Jackets went on the road and took two out of three from the Hokies. That series win puts Georgia Tech into a tie for second place with the Panthers (14-10) who won a series from North Carolina (12-12) at home. Then there is Miami (13-10) who got themselves back into the race after sweeping Clemson. The Hurricanes sit just one and a half games back of first place. The Canes head to Chapel Hill to meet the Tar Heels with the loser, in all likelihood, facing an uphill battle to stay in the race.
A couple of non-conference games have some pretty good storylines associated with them. First, there is the in-state battle between Louisville and Kentucky. The game is the 112th Battle of the Bluegrass. These two programs have been meeting in all but two seasons since 1985 when they did not meet last year because of Covid. The Yellow Jackets take to the road to meet Georgia State in a mid-week contest with head coach Danny Hall heading toward a milestone. He is just two wins shy of 1.300 for his career. When he reaches that number, he will join three other Division one coaches who have reached that lofty win total. At the moment, Hall currently sits 20th on the D1 all-time win list. He could get there this weekend when his team takes on Florida State.at home.
The ACC Player of the Week is Alex Toral. The junior from Miami had a big week in helping his team go unbeaten and get back into the Coastal Division race. The Canes won four games and Toral had a hand in those wins by slugging 1.231 and hitting three home runs. In their mid-week game with Florida Gulf Coast, Toral went 2-for-3 with a leadoff home run in the fourth inning. In the sweep of Clemson, Toral hit two more bombs in the 12-3 Friday night win. For the week, the first baseman hit .538 (7-for-13) with a 1.856 OPS, also drawing three runs and four walks.
The ACC Pitcher of the Week is Ryan Cusick of Wake Forest. Last Friday night vs Duke, Cusick put together his best performance of the year. He went seven innings giving up four hits, zero runs while striking out 11 Blue Devils hitters in seven innings. The strikeout total was the fourth time this season that Cusick reached double-digits. He did not allow more than one hit in any inning and fanned two Duke hitters in four separate innings.
Next week we will be back with more from the ACC.
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