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ACC Weekend Preview: Feb. 20th-22nd

I will be covering the ACC in depth this season with weekly previews of the weekend ahead. I believe that the ACC is one of the premier conferences in the country even though no team in the conference has won the national championship since 1955 when Wake Forest grabbed the title. The ACC is expected to be won by the North Carolina Tar Heels who are led by two of the best pitchers in the conference with Alex White and Matt Harvey. The North Carolina offense is led by junior Dustin Ackley who has been one of the best hitters in the country for the last two seasons. Florida State loses Buster Posey and will need to find some quality pitching to challenge the Tar Heels for the conference title. Clemson looks to return to the post season as they missed the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time since 1986. The real darkhorse in the conference is NC State who returns a solid nucleus of player with a strong pitching staff.

The College Baseball Blog ACC Predictions

Atlantic Division

1. Florida State
2. NC State
3. Clemson
4. Wake Forest
5. Boston College
6. Maryland

Coastal Division

1. North Carolina
2. Georgia Tech
3. Miami (FL)
4. Duke
5. Virginia
6. Virginia Tech

Lets take a look at this weekend series where the key matchup is between the Charlotte 49ers opening the season against the Clemson Tigers. Charlotte has become one of the better mid-major teams in the country and should provide a strong challenge this weekend.

VMI at North Carolina

The VMI Keydets head into the opening weekend after having a solid season in 2008. They had an overall record of 29-26 while going 14-7 in the Big South conference which was good enough for a second place tie. The Keydets return two strong hitters from last year’s squad in Jordan Ballard (.302 BA, 12 HR, 39 RBI) and Tanner Biagini (.343 BA, 10 HR, 46 RBI. The top returning pitcher is sophomore Chris Duty who went 5-0 including two saves and had an ERA of 1.95 last season. Travis Smink is also back for his redshirt sophomore season after going 2-1 including seven saves and accumulating a 3.48 ERA.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are coming off a 54-14 season while going 22-7 in the ACC. The Tar Heels took part in the College World Series for the third straight season. They are led by Mike Fox who is entering his 11th season in charge of the program. He has a 452-190-1 record in Chapel Hill and an overall career record of 992-331-5 in his 25 years. The Tar Heels pitching staff comes back with National Pitcher of the Year candidate Alex White who had a 13-3 record with a 2.83 ERA as he was named the ACC Pitcher of the Year. (He was rated as the 3rd best prospect by TCBB and his profile is available by clicking here.) The top returning hitter for the Heels is Dustin Ackley who had a batting average of .417 with seven homers and 51 RBI.

Weekend Probable Pitchers

Feb. 20 3 p.m. Alex White, RHP (Jr., 2008: 13-3, 2.83)  vs  Travis Smink, LHP (Jr., 2008: 2-1, 3.48)
Feb. 21 1 p.m. Adam Warren, RHP (Sr., 2008: 9-2, 4.23) vs  Chris Henderson, RHP (Sr., 2008: 5-4, 3.16)
Feb. 22 1 p.m. Matt Harvey, RHP (So., 2008: 7-2, 2.79) John Phelps, LHP (Jr., 2008: Did not pitch)

UNC Series Notes
VMI Series Notes

Brian’s Prediction: UNC sweeps VMI
Vu’s Prediction: UNC shows why they were picked in the top 3 of every major poll by easily sweeping VMI.

Hofstra at Florida State

The Hofstra Pride will be playing their first game under first year head coach Patrick Anderson. They finished last season with a 19-36 overall record while going 7-23 in the CAA. The top player on Hofstra is Matt Prokopowicz who led the team with a .312 batting average with eight homers and 39 RBI.

The Florida State Seminoles continued their a successful run with an appearance in the College World Series behind power hitting catcher Buster Posey. He decided to sign with the San Francisco Giants but the Seminoles still have a powerful lineup led by Jason Stidham.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Friday: HU LHP Brody Fontaine (6-6, 6.34 ERA) vs FSU TBA
Saturday Game 1: HU RHP Bobby Neelon (3-3, 6.93 ERA) vs FSU TBA
Saturday Game 2: HU RHP Rob Kumbatovic (2-7, 4.56 ERA) vs FSU TBA
Sunday: HU LHP Nick Panzarella (1-7, 7.68 ERA) vs FSU TBA

Hofstra Series Notes
FSU Series Notes

Brian’s Prediction: It would be a major upset if Hofstra won a single game of this series.
Vu’s Prediction: Florida State takes all 4 against Hofstra.

Rutgers at Miami (FL)

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are coming off a rebuilding season which saw them go 23-29-1 while going 11-16 in the Big East. They are led by legendary head coach Fred Hill who is entering his 26th season with Rutgers. The top returning player for the Knights is Luis Feliz who had a .328 average last season.

The Miami Hurricanes are coming off a College World Series appearance after going 53-11 overall and an outstanding 23-5 in the ACC. The Hurricanes received some bad news during fall ball when LHP Eric Erickson got the news that he will miss the entire 2009 season.

Probable Pitchers
Friday: UM LHP Chris Hernandez (11-0, 2.72 ERA) vs. RU RHP Casey Gaynor (2-5, 4.24 ERA)
Saturday Game 1:UM RHP David Gutierrez (5-0, 4.75 ERA) vs. RU LHP Dennis Hill (N/A)
Saturday Game 2: UM TBA vs. RUTGERS – RHP Charlie Law (N/A)
Sunday: UM TBA vs. RUTGERS – RHP Kyle Bradley (1-4, 4.88 ERA)

Prediction: Miami sweeps the four game series.

Lipscomb at Georgia Tech (written by Vu Pham)

The Lipscomb Bisons and the #12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets last faced each other in the winner’s bracket game in the 2008 Athens Regional. Georgia Tech won that game 6-3, however, the win didn’t come easy as the game was tied going into the eighth inning.

Georgia Tech, 41-21 last season, returns a veteran squad, including 7 returning starters on the field. The Jackets are led by seniors Luke Murton (.332, 12 HR, 51 RBI) and Jason Haniger (.329, 10 HR, 34 RBI), junior Tony Plagman (.306, 16 HR, 45 RBI), and sophomores Jeff Rowland (.335, 22 SB) and Derek Dietrich (.332, 14 HR, 66 RBI).

Lipscomb, 33-30 last season and the 2008 Atlantic Sun champion, are led by a pair of aces on the mound — Brandon McClurg (6-6, 3.34 ERA) and Rex Brothers (4-5, 5.57 ERA). Last year in the Athens regional, Brothers held Georgia to 2 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings in a 10-7 victory. Both McClurg and Brothers were named to the Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference Team.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Friday, 4pm: GT RHP Deck McGuire (8-2, 3.46) vs. LU LHP Rex Brothers (4-5, 5.57)
Saturday, 2pm: GT RHP Zach Von Tersch (7-5, 4.33) vs. LU RHP Brandon McClurg (6-6, 3.34)
Sunday, 2pm: GT RHP Brandon Cumpton (2-1, 7.19) vs. LU RHP Josh Smith (3-3, 5.00)

Vu’s Prediction: Lipscomb keeps the games close, but Georgia Tech’s veteran squad sweeps the series.
Brian’s Prediction: GT sweeps the series.

GT Series Notes

Charlotte at Clemson

The Charlotte 49ers have become the best team in the Atlantic 10 conference over the last couple of seasons. The 49ers are coming off a 43-16 season while going 19-8 in the Atlantic 10. They are led by Loren Hibbs who is enterning his 17th season in charge of the program. The top returning hitter is Rob Lyerly who had a .364 average with 15 homers last season including a three home run game against Umass. (Click here for recap of game.) The top pitcher coming back is sophomore RHP Joe Yermalwho went 8-2 with a 4.39 ERA including two complete games.

The Clemson Tigers had a disappointing season last year which saw them miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1986. The Tigers are led by head coach Jack Leggett who is also entering his 17th season with the school. The top returning hitter for Clemson is Kyle Parker who had a .303 batting average including 14 home runs. The top pitcher for the Tigers is expected to be Trey Delk who went 2-1 with a 4.01 ERA. The Tigers are expected to start freshman Chris Dwyer on Saturday this weekend.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Fri. UNCC Joe Yermal RHP So. vs CU Trey Delk RHP
Sat.  UNCC Andrew Smith RHP So. vs CU Chris Dwyer LHP Fr.
Sun. UNCC Tyler Pilkington LHP Fr. vs CU Graham Stoneburner RHP  So.

Brian’s Prediction: Clemson takes 2 out of the 3 games but I would not be surprised to see UNC-Charlotte win the series.
Vu’s Prediction: Charlotte steals one at Clemson.

Clemson Series Notes
Charlotte Series Notes

Wake Forest takes part in Wake Forest Baseball Tourney

Friday 6pm Wake Forest vs Akron
LHP Austin Stadler (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Tom Farmer (0-0, 0.00)

Saturday 2:30pm Wake Forest vs Akron
LHP Alex Wiesner (0-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Zach Yike (0-0, 0.00)

Saturday 6pm Wake Forest vs Old Dominion
RHP Brad Kledzik (0-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Cory Toth (0-0, 0.00)

Sunday 2:30 pm Wake Forest vs Marshall
RHP Michael Dimock (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Dan Straily (0-0, 0.00)

Brian’s Prediction: Wake Forest wins 3 out of the 4 games.
Vu’s Prediction: Wake Forest wins all 4 games at home.

Wake Forest Series Notes

Boston College at Stetson

Friday: 6 pm BC JB McDonald vs SU TBA
Saturday: 1 pm BC John Leonard vs SU TBA
Saturday: 6:30 pm BC Pat Dean vs SU TBA
Sunday: 1:00 pm BC Mike Dennhardt vs SU TBA

Does anyone have Stetson’s pitching information?

Brian’s Prediction
: Stetson and BC split the weekend tilt.
Vu’s Prediction: Boston College wins 3 of 4 on the road against the Hatters.

Bucknell at Virginia

Friday: 4pm
Saturday (2): 12pm
Sunday: 1:00pm

Virginia Cavaliers (0-0, 0-0 ACC)
Probable Starting Rotation (‘08 stats)
Fri. – RHP Andrew Carraway (4-3, 4.06 ERA)
Sat. G1 – LHP Danny Hultzen (–, – ERA)
Sat. G2 – LHP Neal Davis (4-0, 1.58 ERA)
Sun. – LHP Jeff Lorick (3-3, 6.27 ERA)

Bucknell Bison (0-0, 0-0 PATRIOT)
Probable Starting Rotation (‘08 stats)
Fri. – RHP Dylan Seeley (4-4, 4.77 ERA)
Sat. G1 – RHP Trey Frahler (1-1, 10.30 ERA)
Sat. G2 – RHP Sean Driscoll (–, – ERA)
Sun. – RHP Andrew Clarke (0-3, 7.27 ERA)

Brian’s Prediction: UVA wins all four games.
Vu’s Prediction: Virginia sweeps Bucknell.

Bucknell Series Notes
Virginia Series Notes

LaSalle at Duke

Friday 3pm: Duke Starter: TBA
La Salle Starter: Drew Gerhart (0-0, 0.00)

Saturday Doubleheader 12pm
Duke Game 1 Starter: TBA
La Salle Game 1 Starter: Cody Weiss (0-0, 0.00)
Duke Game 2 Starter: TBA
La Salle Game 2 Starter: Kevin Fuqua (0-0, 0.00)

Sunday 12pm
Duke Starter: TBA
La Salle Starter: TJ Chism (0-0, 0.00)

Brian’s Prediction: Duke sweeps all four games.
Vu’s Prediction: Duke wins all four at home against the Explorers.

Duke Series Notes
LaSalle Series Notes

Maryland at UNC Wilmington

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: RHP Brett Harman vs. RHP Daniel Cropper
Saturday: LHP Adam Kolarek vs. RHP Seth Frankoff
Sunday: RHP Ian Schwalenberg vs. RHP Jesse Haney

Brian’s Prediction: UNCW sweeps the series.
Vu’s Prediction: The Seahawks sweep the series at home.

Maryland Series Notes
UNCW Series Notes

Summit Hospitality Group Invitational hosted by NC State

Rhode Island vs. NC State (Friday at 3 p.m.)
• Tim Boyce vs. Jake Buchanan
Xavier vs. NC State (Saturday at 3 p.m.)
• Nathan Mutsch vs. Sam Brown
Santa Clara vs. NC State (Sunday at 3 p.m.)
• Cory Hall vs. Jimmy Gillheeney

Brian’s Prediction: NC State wins all three games.
Vu’s Prediction: The Wolfpack take all three games.

Courtyard by Marriott Classic in Spartanburg, S.C. with Virginia Tech in action

Friday: Va Tech vs UNC Asheville 12pm
Saturday: Va Tech vs Wofford (2) 1pm
Sunday: Va Tech vs Upstate 2pm

Brian’s Prediction: VT wins only one game on the weekend.
Vu’s Prediction: The Hokies win all four games in Spartanburg.

Information on starting pitchers are not available at this time.

Special Thanks to Vu Pham who covers Georgia Tech Baseball for the site for sending us his preview of the GT-Lipscomb series. Also, thanks for his predictions for the ACC games.

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