With two weekends left in the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule, things are starting to become a little clearer. Eight of the twelve spots have been locked up by schools. The only spot that is really left to be taken is the last one. That could be settled this weekend when Duke (10-17) takes on Virginia Tech (16-14), The other team in the equation is Boston College who happens to have the weekend off because of final exams. Looks like the Eagles (9-21) will be doing some scoreboard watching this weekend. Here is some other news from the ACC.
As mentioned, eight spots in the upcoming league tournament have been taken. The eight teams who will continue their season once the next two weeks are over are Notre Dame and Louisville who were the first two teams in. Joining them will be Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, and maybe the most surprising one of them all, Pittsburgh. Not much was expected of the Panthers back before the ACC season got started, but at 16-11 in the league and 22-13 overall, they have raised a few eyebrows as the season has gone on. They may still need a couple of wins in the tournament to secure a spot in the NCAA baseball tournament, but the fact that they have this chance is a surprise in itself.
There is a new division leader in the Coastal thanks to Georgia Tech’s (18-12) sweep of Clemson last weekend. The Yellow Jackets got things going with a 6-1 victory on Friday night at Russ Chandler Stadium. They followed that up with a pair of one-run wins on Saturday and Sunday. The sweep of the Tigers was Georgia Tech’s second conference sweep of the year. The race for the division crown is not over as the Yellow Jackets have a one-game lead on Pittsburgh, with both teams playing this week. Georgia Tech is on the road at Miami, while Pittsburgh is home to North Carolina State.
In the Atlantic, there is a percentage point lead for the Irish (22-10) over the Cardinal (16-10). However, that could change because Louisville will go on the road to play North Carolina (14-16) this week. The Fighting Irish have this week off. Both teams will be in action next week. Both Florida State (17-13) and NC State (14-13) will need help to get back in the race.
The ACC has several players that find themselves ranked in the nation in a couple of different categories. On the offensive side, Florida State’s Matt Nelson leads the country in home runs with 20. He has plenty of company from other members of the league in the home run chase. Wake Forest’s Bobby Seymour is second in the nation with 18, ND Niko Kavades is 10th with 15, Louisville’s Alex Binelas is 16th with 14, and Wake’s Brock Wilken is 16th also with 14.
On the pitching side, Boston College’s Emmett Sheehan leads the country with 102 strikeouts, He is followed by the Seminoles Parker Messick and Virginia Andrew Abbott with each having 99 strikeouts this season.
The Player of the Week is Duke senior outfielder Joey Loperfido. He put together a .667 batting average over a four-game span last week. He went 10-for-15 with at least two hits in each game and scored four runs. The Haddonfield, New Jersey native had a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .722 on-base percentage. He reached base safely in 13 of his 18 plate appearances while walking twice and being hit by a pitch.
The Pitcher of the Week is graduate student left-hander John Bertrand of Notre Dame. He threw seven shutout innings in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader versus #18 Florida State. He struck out a career-high nine batters, walked one, and allowed five hits, all singles. The 5-3 win was his sixth of the season which ties him for second place in the league stats for most wins. It was Bertrand’s sixth outing of at least seven innings and he won his last three outings to improve to 6-1 on the year.
Next week we will look ahead to the last weekend of ACC baseball.