The ACC kicks off conference play this weekend with a full slate of action. The marquee matchup this weekend sees the number 2 ranked Florida State Seminoles hosting the number 4 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. The other ACC matchup featuring ranked teams is the number 30 ranked NC State Wolfpack visiting the ninth ranked Clemson Tigers. The rest of the weekend action sees Wake Forest visiting #5 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, #11 North Carolina playing cross-town rival Duke, Boston College visiting #13 Miami (FL) and Maryland visits Virginia Tech.I taped an interview with The Best Seat In The House News Radio 1070 WINA out of Charlottesville Virginia. We discussed the big weekend matchup between Virginia and Florida State while talking about some of other teams in the ACC. You can listen to the full interview by clicking here.
#4 Virginia (10-2) at #2 Florida State (12-0)
The marquee series in the ACC this weekend sees the Virginia Cavaliers heading on the road to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles. The Cavaliers enter the weekend with a 10-2 record after beating a tough William and Mary squad on Wednesday by a score of 12-6. The offense for the Cavs have a team batting average of .378 which is good enough for second in the ACC. The top hitter during the early part of the season for them has been sparkplug Keith Werman who is hitting at a .636 clip in only eight games. The Cavaliers offense is loaded from top to bottom as Steven Proscia (.426 BA), Phil Gosselin (.404 BA), and Tyler Cannon (.381 BA) can all do major damage. Centerfielder Jarrett Parker has gotten off to a marginal start compared to the other guys in the lineup as he is hitting .348 with a homer and 13 RBI. The pitching staff for the Cavs has been decent as they have a team ERA of 3.79 which is good enough for seventh in the conference. Danny Hultzen will get the ball on Friday as he is 2-1 this season with an ERA of 1.35. Robert Morey has been serving as the number two starter this season and he is also 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA. After Morey, things get a bit hairy for them as Cody Winiarski has started all three Sunday games as he is 1-0 with a 6.43 ERA. The backend of the bullpen for the Cavs sees Kevin Arico who has four saves this season in five appearances as he hasn’t given up an earned run in his seven innings of work.
Florida State enters the weekend with a 12-0 record after beating North Florida on Wednesday evening by a score of 6-2. Florida State has played a slightly easier early season schedule but flexed their muscles last weekend when they swept Georgia by a combined score of 38-8. FSU enters the weekend with the fourth highest batting average in the ACC. Freshman infielder Justin Gonzalez has been leading the Seminoles offensive attack as he is hitting .429 with two homer and 19 RBI. The Seminoles also have two other players with averages above .400 in Stuart Tapley (.425 BA, 1 HR, 12 RBI) and Stephen Cardullo (.425, 2 HR, 19 RBI). Leadoff hitter Tyler Holt has been also solid in the early going with a .357 average and 17 runs scored. The Florida State pitching staff has a team ERA of 2.29 with two shutouts. Sean Gilmartin has been serving as the ace of the pitching staff picking up from last year as he is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA. John Gast (3-0, 1.50 ERA) and Geoff Parker (1-0, 6.08 ERA) round out the weekend rotation. Tallahassee Community College transfer Daniel Bennett has been serving as the team’s closer as he has two saves in five appearances with a 0.00 ERA.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: UVA Danny Hultzen (2-1, 1.35 ERA) vs FSU Sean Gilmartin (3-0, 0.90 ERA)
Saturday: UVA Robert Morey (2-1, 3.63 ERA) vs FSU John Gast (3-0, 1.50 ERA)
Sunday: UVA Cody Winiarski (1-0, 6.43 ERA) vs FSU Geoff Parker (1-0, 6.08 ERA)
Brian Foley: FSU 2-1
Kyle Tait: FSU 2-1
Skip McCarthy: FSU 2-1
Michael Lemaire: FSU 2-1
Wake Forest (6-8) at #5 Georgia Tech (10-1)
Wake Forest heads down to Atlanta to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Wake Forest enters the weekend with a 6-8 overall record coming off two midweek losses to Coastal Carolina (9-4) and UNC-Wilmington (10-3). The Wake Forest offense has struggled this season with a .276 batting average which is second worst in the ACC only ahead of Maryland. Ryan Semeniuk has been the top hitter for the Demon Deacons as he is hitting .411 with three homers and 10 RBI. Senior catcher Mike Murray is the second leading hitter on the squad with a .375 average, three homers, and a team high 16 RBI. The pitching staff for the Demon Deacons has struggled as they have a team ERA of 5.81 which is also second worst in the ACC only ahead of Boston College. Freshman LHP Tim Cooney has had some early success this season as he is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts. Michael Dimmock will get the ball on Friday evening has only made one start this season but has four appearances has a 1-1 record including a save and a 1.54 ERA. Austin Stadler is expected to get the start on Sunday but he has struggled out of the gate with a record of 1-0 and a 6.88 ERA. Matt Conway is the only starting pitcher besides Cooney that has recorded at least a save as he has a 1-0 record and a 5.14 ERA in three appearances.
Georgia Tech enters this weekend with a 10-1 overall record but have not played a game since Sunday when they beat Rutgers 9-4 to complete the sweep. Georgia Tech’s offense has been hitting at a .367 clip which is third best in the ACC. Jacob Esch has been leading the squad with a batting average of .500 while driving in 15 runs. Cole Leonida has also been solid at the plate with a .474 average with three homers and 15 RBI. Chase Burnette is the other everyday position player hitting over .400 at .465 this season with three homers and a team high 16 RBI. The Yellow Jackets pitching staff has been the best in the ACC during the out of conference portion of the schedule with a 2.09 team ERA. They are led by potential first round draft pick Deck McGuire who is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in three starts totaling 22 innings. Jed Bradley has been serving as the number 2 starter with a 2-1 record and a 2.12 ERA. Brandon Cumpton rounds out the weekend rotation with a 3-0 record and a 3.18 ERA. Kevin Jacob entered the season as the Yellow Jackets closer but has struggled as he has a 7.11 ERA but does have two saves on the season. Luke Bard (brother of Red Sox RHP Daniel Bard) recorded the other save for the Yellow Jackets as he has not given up an earned run in six innings this season.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: WF Michael Dimock (1-1, 1.54 ERA) vs Georgia Tech – Deck McGuire (2-0, 0.82 ERA)
Saturday: WF Tim Cooney (2-0, 1.35 ERA) vs GT Brandon Cumpton (3-0, 3.18 ERA)
Sunday: WF Austin Stadler (1-0, 6.88 ERA) vs GT – Jed Bradley (2-1, 2.12 ERA)
Brian Foley: GT sweep
Kyle Tait: GT sweep
Skip McCarthy: GT sweep
Michael Lemaire: GT sweep
#30 NC State (11-1) at #9 Clemson (10-1)
NC State has a 11-1 record coming off a 14-10 victory over NC A&T. The Wolfpack have been a little bit of a surprise this season as they have picked up wins over Big West power UC-Irvine and James Madison. The only loss for the Wolfpack was when they dropped a 6-3 game to Coastal Carolina. NC State’s top hitter this season has been catcher Chris Schaffer who comes into this weekend with a .483 average in 29 at-bats. Jake Buchanan has been leading the starting pitchers with a 2-1 record and a 1.77 ERA in four starts. Two-sport athlete Russell Wilson has recorded the only save for the Pack this season.
Clemson enters this weekend with a 10-1 overall record coming off a 13-2 victory over Gardner-Webb on Thursday.. The Tigers have been solid in the early season losing only to instate rival South Carolina last weekend. The Tigers are currently hitting at a .302 mark which is eighth in the ACC. The top hitter this season for Clemson has been quarterback/outfielder Kyle Parker who is hitting .405 with five homers and 13 RBI. Jeff Schaus and Brad Miller are both hitting above .300 with Schaus checking in at .375 while Miller is hitting .366. The three starting pitchers for the Tigers are Casey Harman, Will Lamb, and Scott Weisman. Harman leads the squad with a 2-0 record while having an ERA of 2.30. Will Lamb is 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in three appearances including two starts. The final spot in the rotation sees Scott Weisman check in with a 2-0 mark with a 2.93 ERA.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: NC State Cory Mazzoni (2-0, 2.16) vs. Clemson Casey Harman (2-0, 2.30)
Saturday: NC State Jake Buchanan (2-1, 1.77) vs Clemson TBA
Sunday: NC State TBA vs Clemson Scott Weismann (2-0, 2.93)
Brian Foley: Clemson 2-1
Michael Lemaire: Clemson 2-1
Kyle Tait: Clemson 2-1
Skip McCarthy: Clemson 2-1
#11 North Carolina (11-2) at Duke (9-3)
North Carolina heads over to Durham NC this weekend to take on the Duke Blue Devils. UNC enters this weekend with a 11-2 record with the two losses coming to Maine and William and Mary. The Tar Heels enter the weekend with a .305 average as they are led on offense by Ben Bunting who has a .396 average with seven RBI in 13 games. Ryan Graepel (.378 BA) and Dillon Hazlett (.357 BA) are the only two other hitters above .300 for the Tar Heels. The Tar Heels pitching staff enters the weekend with a team ERA of 2.90 which is good enough for third best in the ACC. The pitching staff is led by one of the best pitchers in the country in Matt Harvey. He is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his three starts to the season while striking out 23 batters in his 20 innings pitched. The rest of the weekend rotation is rounded out by Patrick Johnson (2-1, 1.42 ERA) and Colin Bates (3-0, 3.57 ERA).
Duke enters the weekend with a 9-3 overall record after winning two midweek games against Quinnipiac by scores of 10-3 and 5-0. They enter the weekend with a .284 team batting average which is third worst in the conference only ahead of Wake Forest and Maryland. They are led by Mike Carroll who is hitting .385 with three RBI on the year. Jeremy Gould is second on the squad with a .326 average and Jake Lemmerman has a .318 average. The Blue Devils have the fifth best team ERA in the ACC at 3.23. Michael Ness has been the most consistent starting pitcher as he is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his first three starts of the season. Jonathan Foreman has been a solid starter with a 1-0 record and a 2.81 ERA. Eric Pfisterer has struggled a little bit as he sports a 2-1 record with a 5.28 ERA.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: UNC Matt Harvey (2-0, 1.80 ERA) vs Duke Michael Ness (1-0, 2.25 ERA)
Saturday: UNC Patrick Johnson, RHP (2-1 2.41 ERA) vs Duke Eric Pfisterer (2-1, 5.28 ERA)
Sunday: UNC Colin Bates, RHP (3-0, 3.57 ERA) vs Duke TBA
Brian Foley: Duke 2-1
Michael Lemaire: UNC 2-1
Kyle Tait: UNC Sweep
Skip McCarthy: UNC 2-1
Boston College (5-6) at #13 Miami (FL) (8-3)
Boston College heads down to Coral Gables Florida to take on the Miami Hurricanes this weekend. Boston College split a two game series against Florida International as they enter the series with a 5-6 overall record. The Eagles enter the weekend with a .316 average which is good enough for sixth in the conference. They are being led on offense by leadoff hitter Robbie Anston who is hitting .458 with a homer and nine RBI. John Spatola has also been solid in the lineup with a .429 average while leading the team with five homers and driving in 21 runs. The Boston College pitching has been an absolute disaster during the beginning part of the year as they have the worst team ERA in the conference at 8.12 which is over two runs behind the next closest team. Pat Dean has been the number 1 starter this season as he is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in his three starts. The other two starting pitchers this weekend are Kevin Moran and Mike Dennhardt who have struggled in the rotation. Moran made his first start last week against Florida Atlantic but gave up eight runs (seven earned) in only 4.1 innings of work. He enters the weekend with a 1-1 record and a 9.31 ERA. Dennhardt has had one good start this season against Tulane where he pitched seven shutout innings allowing only two hits. His other two starts both against Florida Atlantic saw him last 1.2 innings while giving up seven runs on Feb. 27th and giving up eight runs in only two innings of work last Saturday. He enters the weekend with a 1-2 record with an ERA of 12.66.
Miami (FL) enters the weekend with a record of 8-3 with the three losses coming against Manhattan and twice to the Florida Gators last weekend. Miami picked up a mid-week victory over Central Florida where they dominated by a score of 19-2. The Hurricanes enter the weekend with the ninth best team batting average at .294. They have been led by Louisville transfer Chris Pelaez who is batting .529 with three homers and 11 RBI. They also feature three other hitters that have batting averages above .300 with Yasmani Grandal checking in at .325, Harold Martinez at .317 and Zeke DeVoss at .317. The Miami pitching staff has a team ERA of 4.18 which is good enough for eighth in the conference. They are led by two strong lefthanded starting pitchers in Eric Erickson and Chris Hernandez. Erickson has a record of 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA while Hernandez is 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA. The other spot in the rotation for the Hurricanes this weekend will be filled by Jason Santana as he is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three starts.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: LHP Pat Dean (2-0, 3.86) vs. LHP Chris Hernandez (1-1, 2.65)
Saturday: RHP Kevin Moran (1-1, 9.31) vs. RHP Jason Santana (0-1, 9.00)
Sunday: RHP Mike Dennhardt (1-2, 12.66) vs. LHP Eric Erickson (1-1, 3.00)
Brian Foley: Miami (FL) sweep
Michael Lemaire: Miami (FL) sweep
Kyle Tait: Miami (FL) sweep
Skip McCarthy: Miami (FL) 2-1
Maryland (5-6) at Virginia Tech (9-3)
Maryland didn’t have any midweek games this week and have had a week to prepare for Virginia Tech and new coach Erik Bakich’s first ACC series. The Terps earned their first sweep of the season last weekend with three easy wins over lowly Hofstra to improve to 5-6. The Terps have really struggled offensively this season and have scored just 53 runs in their 11 games. The lone bright spot has been West Virginia transfer Brandon Padula. A non-scholarship, non-recruited player for the Mountaineers, Padula has been a revelation in College Park, leading the ACC in hitting at a .568 clip. Beyond Padula, Bakich will rely on Vanderbilt transfer Matt Marquis (.375 BA, 2 HR) and two-way player Adam Kolarek (.250 BA). As expected, the Terps have been carried by their pitching staff this year. After getting rocked in the team’s 17-3 blowout loss to Delaware, ace Brett Harman dominated Hofstra, allowing just three runs in eight innings while striking out nine. The other two projected starters are lefthander Eric Potter (1-1, 6.23 ERA) and sophomore Sander Beck (0-2, 4.20 ERA), and the Terps will need huge weekends from that duo if they expect to steal one from the Hokies. In the bullpen, pitching coach Sean Kenny really only has four legitimate options. Seniors Ian Schwalenberg and John Dischert form an experienced, balanced, set-up combination and closer Dan Gentzler blew a midweek save against VMI, but has been reliable otherwise. The real key is the aforementioned Kolarek who has improved on an incredible summer in the Coastal Plain League by shutting out opponents in his 11.2 innings this season.
After dropping their first two games to Kentucky and Coastal Carolina respectively, Virginia Tech has won nine of its last 10 games albeit against mediocre competition to bring their record to 9-3. The Hokies welcome the Maryland Terrapins to Blacksburg this weekend on the heels of a midweek split with Bryant. Virginia Tech is led by its offense. Paced by outfielder Austin Wates (.474 BA) and Arkansas transfer Tim Smalling (.446 BA) the Hokies are averaging 8.75 runs per game and should get the opportunity to improve on that against the Terps’ inconsistent pitching staff. Catcher Steve Domecus has been the main power source with four home runs and four doubles to go along with 13 RBI, which is third on the team. On the bump Virginia Tech has had an up-and-down beginning to the season. Hard-throwing righthander Jesse Hahn has been almost unhittable thus far and is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA and 18 strikeouts. But fellow starters Justin Wright and Matthew Price have struggled. A sophomore lefthander, Wright got roughed up by Kentucky in the season opener, but has settled in since. And Price has allowed seven runs in just 10 innings. The bullpen has provided a big boost for the Hokies thus far, closer Ben Rowen has baffled hitters with his sidearm delivery and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 8.1 innings this year while striking out 16 batters.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday (1:00): UMD Brett Harman vs. VT Justin Wright
Saturday (1:00): UMD Eric Potter vs. VT Jesse Hahn
Sunday (1:00): UMD Sander Beck or Adam Kolarek vs. VT Mathew Price or Joe Mantiply
Brian Foley: VT sweeps
Michael Lemaire: VT 2-1
Kyle Tait: VT 2-1
Skip McCarthy: VT sweeps