Posted by Brandon Rink on April 27, 2012 under ACC Baseball | Comments are off for this article
Miami has a chance to grab the Coastal lead hosting Virginia this weekend (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com, 'Canes LHP Eric Erickson pictured).
Division leaders take the weekend off from ACC play as the conference bubble teams keep fighting for position…
ACC Standings/Weekend Schedule
1) FSU (19-2, 33-7) – Hosts Rhode Island.
2) NC State (13-8, 27-12) – Hosts Duke.
3) Clemson (12-9, 24-18) – At Georgia Tech.
4) Wake Forest (9-12, 26-16) – At BC.
5) Maryland (7-14, 27-17) – At Virginia Tech.
6) BC (6-15, 16-26) – Hosts Wake Forest.
1) UNC (13-8, 30-13) – Off this week.
2) Miami (12-9, 27-14) – Hosts Virginia.
3) Virginia (11-10, 28-14-1) – At Miami.
4) Georgia Tech (9-12, 25-17) – Hosts Clemson.
5) Virginia Tech (8-13, 28-15) – Hosts Maryland.
6) Duke (7-14, 16-26) – At NC State.
ACC Baseball Notes/Weekend Preview
NCAA Projections: Looking at SEBaseball, PerfectGame and ESPN respectively – Mark Etheridge has 10 ACC teams in right now with UNC, FSU and NC State hosting; Kendall Rogers has Maryland and Virginia Tech out in the cold; Jeremy Mills has the Terps out and the Hokies not even in the first nine out. Etheridge posted on Twitter that he didn’t think 10 ACC teams will make the final field, which I agree with – it’ll be hard for them not to knock out a fellow conference bubble team with so many in the same situation.
Division leaders FSU and UNC take the week off from ACC play as we enter the wacky schedule around exams. Virginia hits Miami, trying to gain traction on the Heels and boost their NCAA Tourney profile. The Cavaliers are 3-9 on the road in ACC play, but coming off taking 2-of-3 in Durham. The Hurricanes have lost three of their last four ACC series, including being swept on the road at FSU last week. Top Miami slugger Peter O’Brien (.354 BA/10 HR) has been out the last four games with a hairline fracture in his wrist – it’s unclear as of now if he’ll be back this weekend. This would be a big series win for Virginia, and it could really go either way.
Down on the NCAA bubble, Georgia Tech hosts Clemson after taking 2-of-3 in Chapel Hill last weekend, and the Tigers swept Maryland in College Park. Tigers coach Jack Leggett doesn’t like Yellow Jackets fans…really, really doesn’t like them. Friday’s start probably determines the series between two fairly evenly-matched teams, with hard-luck Clemson ace RHP Kevin Brady (1-2, 2.58 ERA) and GT RHP Buck Farmer (6-3, 3.26 ERA) – who’s sporting a 0.90 ERA over his last four starts says Shakin the Southland. I thought the Tigers would win the series in Maryland last week, but all bets are off in a rivalry series like this. I’d just be a bit concerned about Clemson’s pitching, which surrendered 10 runs on 15 hits at home against Coastal in a loss on Tuesday.
Maryland at Virginia Tech seems to set up as a NCAA Tourney at-large bid death match, and especially big for the Terps coming off a home sweep by Clemson and with a series at FSU still to come at 7-14 in ACC play currently. The Hokies have an opportunity to work their way up the food chain hosting Maryland and NC State the next two weeks before traveling to UNC to close the season. The Terrapins are atop the ACC in team pitching and fielding, but 11th in batting, while the Hokies are a top-tier hitting, middle-of-the-road fielding and sub-par pitching team. Both are on the outside looking in when it comes to the ACC Tournament, so a series win is crucial here.
Wake Forest and NC State have a chance to improve their tourney résumé facing ACC division cellar dwellers BC (in Chestnut Hill) and Duke (at NC State) respectively. Against the Atlantic’s top two, the Eagles have managed to steal a game per series the last two weeks. If anything, Duke is due, losers of 9-of-11 and their last three ACC series.
It’s a battle of division leaders in Tallahassee this weekend with FSU and Miami – the Hurricanes coming off losing a series in Blacksburg, while the ‘Noles haven’t lost an ACC series yet. Friday’s game features Miami lefty Eric Erickson (6-3, 2.91 ERA) going for a 7-0 career record against FSU…think about that for a second, it’s crazy that he even has that many starts against one team in his career – much less winning them all. After taking the series at Duke, the Hurricanes have dropped 4-of-6 on the road in conference play (at Clemson and Virginia Tech) and the Seminoles have lost four games at home all season. Miami will be FSU’s biggest test yet, but I’d still expect the ‘Noles to take the series.
Bubble watch: It’s a big one this season, as SEBaseball’s projection points out, with only five real locks and four teams fighting to make the ACC and NCAA Tourney. Maryland hosts Clemson, going for a third-straight ACC series win. Shakin the Southland’s preview has the Terps with a 2.25 ERA over the last two weekends, and they’re just behind UNC overall in the conference in team pitching. With their tourney resume slipping, Clemson faces fellow bubble-dwellers in three of their final four series, at Maryland and Georgia Tech the next two weeks and closing at Wake Forest. To feel good about their NCAA chances, I’d imagine they would need to take two of three of the series and not get swept by FSU. Maryland is a winnable series for the Tigers with the lack of offense in College Park. Virginia Tech at Wake Forest is the other one to watch, both teams coming off big series wins. The Deacs are 6-3 in home ACC games, taking series over Maryland (sweep) and Georgia Tech (2-of-3), and also nabbing one of FSU’s two ACC losses. The Hokies hit the ball well, but not as much on the road in ACC play (2-7) – they might just breakthrough this weekend though.
Georgia Tech’s free-fall will probably continue at UNC this weekend, as the worst fielding team and struggling at pitching in the ACC. NC State is riding high led by 3B Trea Turner and his speed (39-40 on stolen bases this season, watched him in person last weekend…he’s a gamechanger, fun to watch). They’ll boost their NCAA host profile with BC coming to town. Virginia has a chance to stay in the Coastal race (3 GB) at Duke this weekend – the Blue Devils have lost 9 of their last 12 games.
Posted by Brandon Rink on April 13, 2012 under ACC Baseball | Comments are off for this article
Clemson has a chance to move into second, and based on where NC State is projected, maybe back into the host discussion this weekend (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com).
Previewing the weekend…
ACC Standings/Weekend Schedule
1) FSU (14-1, 27-6) – At BC this weekend.
2) NC State (9-6, 22-9) – At Clemson this weekend.
3) Clemson (8-7, 19-15) – Hosts NC State.
4) Wake Forest (5-10, 20-14) – Hosts GT.
5) Maryland (5-10, 22-13) – Hosts Duke.
6) BC (4-11, 13-20) – Hosts FSU.
1) Miami (11-4, 24-9) – At Virginia Tech.
2) UNC (9-6, 24-9) – At Virginia.
3) Virginia (9-6, 23-10) – Hosts UNC.
4) Georgia Tech (6-9, 20-14) – At Wake Forest.
5) Virginia Tech (5-10, 23-12) – Hosts Miami.
6) Duke (5-10, 13-21) – At Maryland.
ACC Baseball Notes/Weekend Preview
Perfect Game’s NCAA projections this week had a few surprises, with NC State hosting (along with Miami, UNC and FSU) and Maryland among the last five in the field. Obviously, Maryland making the tournament would be a huge step for that program, but they’ll need to keep momentum going to stay on track for that.
This weekend’s games feature two battles for second place in the divisions with a reeling UNC squad hitting Charlottesville and NC State fresh off losing the series to Maryland going down I-85 to Clemson. After being swept at FSU, Virginia has won 12-of-14, scoring less than 5 runs just twice in that stretch. Before three tough games at Miami, UNC was 5-1 on the road in conference play, but they fell out of first and are in danger of continuing that slide at Davenport Field. The Heels will go as far as the effort they get in game one from ace lefty Kent Emanuel (5-2, 1.93 ERA), who surrendered 10 hits and 4 runs in the 8-0 series opener loss last week in Coral Gables. After UNC was swept last week but took all three in this series last year, I’d expect this one to go 2-of-3 one way or another depending on who wins Friday. Down in TigerTown, NC State hopes to right the ship, but have lost 10-of-14 to Clemson of late, including a 6-3 loss in the ACC Tournament last year. They’re in the top tier of the ACC in team batting, pitching and fielding, while the Tigers aren’t really outstanding in any of the categories. Clemson third baseman Richie Shaffer holds the key for the lineup, slipping in batting average until recently where he earned national batting honors – currently hitting .377 with 7 HRs and 33 RBIs. I wouldn’t be surprised if NC State comes out of Clemson with a series win, but it could go either way.
FSU continues to impress after sweeping away Georgia Tech on the road, and have another opportunity to increase the wide gap between them and the rest in the Atlantic traveling to BC this weekend. The Seminoles are 16-3 all-time against the Eagles. Miami, with the momentum of setting UNC down 1-2-3 last week, is in the same position at Virginia Tech, as they make a push for a national seed (13th in this week’s Baseball America poll). The Hurricanes are 17-4 all-time against the Hokies.
It’s still a bit early, but every series is critical for the ACC bubble teams – Maryland really needing a sweep hosting Duke and Wake Forest with an opportunity to make some noise against an up-and-down Yellow Jackets team. NC State slipped in to the field last year at 34-25 with an even conference record. Will the Terps or Deacs need a .500 ACC record as well (both five games under now)? That remains to be seen, but Maryland is 25th and Wake 27th according to Boyd’s World RPI.