Breaking down the ACC through three series with news and notes…
ACC Standings/Remaining Schedule
ATLANTIC DIVISION (Our preseason picks)
School Conference Pct. Overall Pct.
1) Florida State 8-1 .889 21-4-0 .840 (2)
ACC Series Left: VT, at GT, at BC, Miami, Maryland, at Clemson & NC State.
2) NC State 6-3 .667 17-6-0 .739 (3)
ACC Series Left: Virginia, at Maryland, at Clemson, BC, Duke, at VT & at FSU.
3) Wake Forest 4-5 .444 18-9-0 .667 (4)
ACC Series Left: at UNC, at Virginia, GT, VT, at BC, at Miami & Clemson.
4) Clemson 3-6 .333 12-12-0 .500 (1)
ACC Series Left: Miami, at Duke, NC State, at Maryland, at GT, FSU & at Wake Forest.
5) Maryland 2-7 .222 17-9-0 .654 (5)
ACC Series Left: at BC, NC State, Duke, Clemson, at VT, at FSU & Virginia.
6) Boston College 2-7 .222 10-14-0 .417 (6)
ACC Series Left: Maryland, at VT, FSU, at NC State, Wake Forest, at UNC & Duke.
COASTAL DIVISION (Our preseason picks)
School Conference Pct. Overall Pct.
T-1) Miami 7-2 .778 20-5-0 .800 (3)
ACC Series Left: at Clemson, UNC, at VT, at FSU, Virginia, Wake Forest & at GT.
T-1) UNC 7-2 .778 20-5-0 .800 (1)
ACC Series Left: Wake Forest, at Miami, at Virginia, GT, BC, at Duke & VT.
3) Virginia 6-4 .600 17-8-1 .673 (4)
ACC Series Left: at NC State, Wake Forest, UNC, at Duke, at Miami, GT & at Maryland.
4) GT 4-5 .444 16-10-0 .615 (2)
ACC Series Left: Duke, FSU, at Wake Forest, at UNC, Clemson, at Virginia & Miami.
5) Duke 4-5 .444 11-15-0 .423 (6)
ACC Series Left: at GT, Clemson, at Maryland, Virginia, at NC State, UNC & at BC.
6) VT 2-7 .222 18-9-0 .667 (5)
ACC Series Left: at FSU, BC, Miami, at Wake Forest, Maryland, NC State & at UNC.
ACC Baseball Notes at the 1/3 Mark
- Preseason Atlantic pick Clemson’s NCAA Tourney chances aren’t looking so hot right now, at 12-12 (3-6 ACC) on the young season. They’ve been swept twice in conference play (home against UNC and at Virginia), and just lost to the 10-17 Presbyterian Blue Hose, 8-4…at home. The Tigers rank 11th in the ACC in team batting average (.269) – which if it keeps dropping in conference play, could be the worst overall performance in 40 years in TigerTown. Inconsistent pitching has also plagued the Tigers, especially in the starting pitching with junior Saturday starter Dominic Leone really struggling, surrendering 18 earned runs in six starts (6.08 ERA) with 19 Ks and 17 BBs. Can they turn it around? The Tigers do host FSU and NC State, but the home-field hasn’t been all too kind (10-6) so far. Clemson has dug a hole that will be hard to climb out of – they have to fight to make to the ACC Tournament right now.
- Meanwhile, FSU (21-4, 8-1 ACC) is rolling, and half of those 4 losses came against a juggernaut in No. 1 Florida. Not surprisingly, centerfielder James Ramsey is leading the way offensively (.419 BA/9 HRs/27 RBIs), but the pitching staff has performed as well under new pitching coach Mike Bell – 5th in the ACC in team ERA (3.20) with a lights-out reliever in Robert Benincasa (14.2 IP/8 saves/0 Rs allowed/23 Ks-2 BBs) and freshman starter Mike Compton at 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his first six starts. There’s a lot of baseball to go, but they’re in a good spot to stay atop the Atlantic with Clemson’s struggles and NC State traveling to Tallahassee.
- Is the expected 3-team race in the Coastal down to two? I was high on Georgia Tech (16-10, 4-5 ACC) after underrating them last year, but they’ve struggled outside the friendly confines of Russ Chandler – losing 2-of-3 to a solid NC State team and 2-of-3 in Chestnut Hill to a BC squad that had lost its previous 11 games. After a breakout 2011 campaign, GT ace righty Buck Farmer has been less than sharp with a 4-2 record and 5.20 ERA – opposing batters hitting .291 off of him. As a staff, Georgia Tech is 11th in ERA. They’ll get a couple series at home to try to lick the wounds, facing Duke this weekend and FSU the next.
- Much like their Sunshine State rivals, the only blemish on a strong Miami start (20-5, 7-2 ACC) has been a 3-game sweep at home to the No. 1 Gators. Catcher transfer Peter O’Brien has made an immediate impact – hitting .398 with 9 home runs and 31 RBIs. The Hurricanes have one of the top rotations in the ACC with two lefties (Steven Ewing – 3-1, 2.21 ERA; Eric Erickson – 4-2, 3.23 ERA) and righty Eric Whaley (3-1, 2.21 ERA).
- Preseason ACC pick UNC (20-5, 7-2 ACC) has started about as well you would’ve thought, but will miss star Colin Moran (.389 BA/24 RBIs) for the next few series with a broken hand. The Tar Heels lead the ACC in pitching with lefty Kent Emanuel off to an outstanding start (5-1, 1.38 ERA). They don’t have a lot of room for error in the race for ACC’s No. 1 seed/Coastal crown, as they hit Coral Gables this season, but with that pitching staff, all it takes is a little run support to push the Heels over the top.
- What do we do with Virginia (17-8-1, 6-4 ACC)? They’ve lost to BC, Liberty (8-0), Wright State and Seton Hall, but swept Clemson and taken 2-of-3 from Virginia Tech…and lost all three at FSU. The Cavaliers have a RPI of 21 at Boyd’s World, so you’d assume they’re a tournament team, and have some winnable series left on the schedule. Ace righty Branden Kline (4-2, 3.10 ERA) has seemed to settle down after a rough start, throwing a complete-game 2-hitter in a win over Clemson last weekend, and the ‘Hoos lead the ACC in team batting by a wide margin (.324 to GT’s .304) with the second-most runs scored (192), most RBIs (184) and least strikeouts (134).
- With solid out of conference starts, will we see the Deacs, Terps or Hokies in the NCAAs? Maryland and Virginia Tech are both off to 2-7 ACC starts, while Wake has held in there at 4-5. I’d say the Deacs have the best shot, after an inauspicious start (1-4), 15-game winning streak and the 1-5 stretch against FSU and NC State. They’ll need home series wins over GT, VT and Clemson – and to steal a few at Virginia, BC, UNC or Miami to really feel good about their chances.