The race for the top spots in the ACC keeps getting interesting. Teams are taking their shot to begin at the top of either division. The problem is with so many good teams in the league it’s hard to stay at the top for long. It is what makes the regular season such a grind and makes the postseason tournament so much fun to watch. Let’s take a look at where things stand for the second weekend in April.
The ACC Coastal division leader is the Miami Hurricanes (10-2). For the second weekend in a row, Miami swept their series and Duke was last weekend’s victim. The sweep kept Miami in the top spot by a game over Virginia who also won their series with Georgia Tech. Miami’s eight-game winning streak is once again making believers out of the polls. The Hurricanes made a move up the polls in four of the five publications, while the winning streak is the longest under fourth-year head coach Gino DiMare. This weekend Miami hosts Virginia at home in a big series for first place in the division. The Hurricanes have won 13 of the 17 games played in Coral Gables. Pitching has been a big reason why Miami is where they are. It starts with freshman Karson Ligon who has a 4-1 record with a 1.45 ERA, and six earned runs allowed in 37.1 innings. Hitters are batting just .197 against Karson. Sophomore, Jake Garland, checks in with a 4-1 record and a 2.45 ERA, eight earned runs given up in 29.1 innings, and batters are hitting .234 against him. Another sophomore, Carson Palmquist, has a 5-1 record with a 3.22 ERA, 13 earned runs in 36.1 innings, and hitters have a .218 average against him. The back end of the bullpen is managed by Andrew Walters who leads the league with eight saves in 11 games.
They will face a Virginia (9-3) team that is 5-2 on the road this season. The Cavaliers lead the ACC in both hitting and pitching. On offense, they have a team batting average of .335 in 28 games. They are second in the league in triples with 11. Virginia has two hitters that the Miami pitching staff will have to be careful with. First, there is Jake Gelof second in the conference in hitting with a .439 average. He leads in home runs with 14, in RBI with 51, and in total bases with 99. He also leads in both slugging percentage at 1.010, and in on-base at .539. The other hitter to keep an eye on is Casey Saucke. The freshman is hitting .408 in 26 games, good for third in the league. He is tied for fourth in triples with three and is second on the team in hits with 40. On the pitching side of things, Virginia is also at the top in that as well. The team ERA of 2.87 is the only staff in the league under three. Senior, Brian Gursky, is 5-0 with a 2.61 ERA and has given up nine earned runs in 31 innings with a .223 batting average against. Junior, Nate Savino, is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA. He has given up13 earned runs in 39 innings and is seventh in the league with an average of 5.57 innings per start. He has a shutout and a complete game to his credit. Sophomore, Jake Berry, is 4-0 with a 3.54 ERA. He has given up 11 ER in 26 innings, His batting average against is .196. This will be a series of good pitching vs good hitters.
In the Atlantic, the Louisville Cardinal (7-2) will try to rebound from a tough weekend vs Pittsburgh where they lost two out of three games. Despite losing the series, the Cardinal still maintains a two-game lead on Notre Dame. Louisville has the third-best team batting average in the league at .322 in 28 ball games. Sophomore, Jack Payton, is fourth in the league in batting with a .400 average. He is third in the conference in doubles with 10, and sixth in hits with 42. Sophomore, Logan Beard, has a .379 average with only 10 strikeouts in 87 at-bats. Louisville leads the league in triples with 16 and is second in hit by pitch with 46. They are first in stolen bases with 57 and have been caught 10 times.
#10 Notre Dame is back in the fold based on a three-game sweep of then #5 Florida State in Tallahassee. It marks the first time since 2015 that the Fighting Irish swept a top-10 team. It was also the first time in program history that ND took a three-game series in Tallahassee. The Irish now have a four-game winning streak. Senior Carson Putz leads the Irish offense with a .372 average in 21 games. Notre Dame is not one that will bash their way to wins. Instead, they do it with pitching. This week’s Pitcher of the Week, John M. Bertrand, leads the Irish staff with a 4-0 record and a 1.81 ERA. He has given up nine earned runs in 44.2 innings pitched. Teams are hitting .212 against him. He averages over 10 K’s every nine innings. The Irish are also the best fielding team in the league with a fielding percentage of .989, have nine errors in 21 games, and have turned 14 double plays. They have also hit into only five double plays this season. Keeping innings alive is a big plus. The Irish are home this weekend to take on Clemson. This will be only their second home series to date.
Virginia Tech (5-5) reached the .500 mark with a series win last weekend over North Carolina on the road. The Hokies are ranked #25 by Perfect Game heading into this weekend when they host NC State. Virginia Tech is second in the conference in hitting with a team batting average of .323 in 24 games. Sophomore, Jack Hurley, leads the league in hitting with a .453 average. He is fourth in hits with 43, third in total bases with 84, fourth in on-base at .514, and second in slugging at .884. The team leads in slugging percentage at .609, in doubles with 65, and in home runs with 56.
There are two ACC Players of the Week. The first is Miami shortstop Dominic Pitelli. He hit two grand slams and had 10 RBi with a 1.444 on-base plus slugging percentage in a 4-0 week for the Hurricanes. On Friday vs Duke, his grand slam was all the offense Miami would need in a 4-1 victory. In the series finale on Sunday, he connected again for a first-inning slam to start Miami on an 11-3 win. He finished Sunday’s game with five RBI. He is the first player in the 78-year history of the program to hit two grand slams in the same series.
The other ACC Player of the Week is NC State outfielder Noah Soles He had three multi-hit games to help the Wolfpack take their series with Clemson on the road. He went 8-for-11 with seven RBI. He hit two home runs in the series after going deep for the first time at the college level the week earlier vs Georgia Tech.
Bertrand is this week’s ACC Pitcher of the Week. In his start vs the Seminoles, Bertrand went seven and recorded 12 punchouts in a game that the Irish won in 12 innings, 2-0. He surpassed his previous career high of 11 set earlier this year in a non-league start vs Monmouth. He did come out for the eighth inning and retired the first two hitters before his night was done.
That’s all for this week. We will be back next week with more from the ACC.
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