With two weekends left in the regular season of the ACC. Teams are making their final push toward the conference tournament that will be held May 23-28 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. This week, we’ll take a look at some important series that are on tap in both divisions. Seeding for the upcoming ACC tournament becomes an important priority.
We begin in the Coastal, where Georgia Tech hosts Pittsburgh. The Yellow Jackets (26-18, 8-13) are winners of their last five in a row. It comes at an important time for them since they sit in last place in the division. The good news for Georgia Tech is the team they are chasing to exit last place is the team they are playing this weekend. The Pittsburgh Panthers (20-22, 8-11) have a two-game lead in the loss column on Georgia Tech. The road has been ok for the Panthers in league play. Their record is 4-5, while Georgia Tech’s home record in conference play is 5-4. Both teams played non-conference baseball last weekend with Pittsburgh taking a series from California. The Yellow Jackets did the same to Garder-Webb. Georgia Tech has the second-best team batting average in the league at .328 and they will face a Panthers pitching staff with the worst team ERA at 7.11. Teams are hitting .306 against them which is the worst in the conference. Georgia Tech’s pitching staff may be catching a break this weekend. The Pittsburgh team’s batting average is .261 which is next to last in the league. The Yellow Jackets pitching staff is next to last in team ERA at 6.90. They have allowed the most runs at 337 and the most earned runs at 299. Teams are batting .295 against them. This could come down to who pitches the best in this series.
In the Atlantic, the top two teams in the division meet in Winston-Salem. The #17 Boston College Eagles (29-14, 13-11) take on the #2 ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons (37-6, 16-4). It has been an interesting week for the Eagles. Two mid-week games vs Bryant and Merrimack were canceled. Wake did not have any games scheduled for the week because of final exams. The Demon Deacons will bring a five-game winning streak into this series. In league play, Wake has lost only once at home (March, 19 vs ND 3-1). The Eagles have been one of the better road teams not only in the league but in the country. They have seven wins in league play on the road. One of five teams in the conference that are above .500 on the road. For the season, BC has won 17 times away from home. The second-best road win total in the nation. Wake Forest has the best team ERA at 2.40 and is the only staff with a sub-three ERA. They have the top three pitchers in the individual pitching in Seth Keener (6-0, 0.82 ERA) Rhett Lowder (9-0, 1.83 ERA), and Josh Harttle (8-2, 2.18 ERA). The Eagles hitters will have their work cut out for them this weekend.
The Louisville Cardinals (29-15, 9-12) play host to the Clemson Tigers (28-17, 11-10). The Tigers hold a two-game lead in the lost column on Louisville. Clemson heads to the Cardinals coming off taking a series on the road at Boston College. Clemson is 8-4 on the road in conference play and 10-5 overall on the road. Louisville is 7-5 at home this spring in league action, and 22-7 overall at home. Caden Grice who is this week’s ACC Pitcher of the Week, is throwing the ball well at the right time for Clemson. Last Sunday at BC, Grice went eight, allowed two hits, one earned run, and two walks to go along with nine strikeouts. The innings pitched and strikeouts are career highs. He enters the weekend with a 4-1 record, a 3.50 ERA, 57 strikeouts to 23 walks. Opponents are hitting .188 against him in 43.2 innings pitched. Louisville boasts the third-best team ERA in the league at 3.92. Carson Liggett (7-0, 2.31 ERA) and Ryan Hawks (5-2, 4.04 ERA) lead the way. One problem for the Cardinals could be their defense as they have the second-worst fielding percentage at .970%. They have committed the third most errors at 45 while turning 31 double plays.
North Carolina State (29-14, 8-12) heads to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (25-17, 13-11). The road has not been kind to the Wolfpack. They are just 2-6 in league play and 5-7 overall. The Irish have been good at home 8-4 in the league, and 13-5 overall. State is on a four-game winning streak as they try to inch closer to the .500 mark. Notre Dame is tied with Boston College at 13-11 in league play. They hope to have second place all to themselves by the end of the weekend. ND will end the regular season at BC, so having a cushion going into that series would be big for the Irish. Notre Dame has struggled on offense all season. They are last in the league in team batting with a .247 BA. They have the least amount of total hits in the league with 344, as well as the worst on-base percentage at .353 and slugging percentage at .414. The Wolfpack pitching is 5th best with a team ERA of 4.16.
The Duke Blue Devils (31-13, 14-9) had a terrific month of April. They finished the month with a 15-3 record which faulted them into the top spot in the Coastal Division by a game over Miami. They also boast the NCBWA Pitcher of the Month in freshman Andrew Healy. Healy made five starts in April and won them all. He allowed only one earned run in those starts. The Blue Devils, who were unranked through the second week in April, find themselves as a top-10 team in the polls based on winning 15 of their last 18 games.
The ACC Player of the Week is also the NCBWA and Perfect Game Player of the Week. Mac Horvath of North Carolina, the junior third baseman, had quite a stretch for the Tar Heels. From April 25-30, Horvath batted .563 with 19 runs in four games. Last Tuesday night vs UNC Wilmington, Horvath had an eight-RBI game that included a pair of three-run home runs. Last Saturday vs Virginia Tech, he hit two more HRs. A grand slam and a three-run blast as part of a 5-for-8 day with 11 RBI as the Tar Heels took a doubleheader from the Hokies. The 19 RBI are the most in UNC history, and the eight RBI vs UNCW are the most in any one game since 2004. He has 19 HR and 56 RBI which are both career highs and lead the ACC in both categories.
Next week we look ahead to the next to last weekend in ACC play.
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