ACC Weekend Preview (March 26th-28th)

The ACC enters their third weekend of action with a couple of key matchups. The biggest matchup clearly is between Division leaders Clemson and Virginia. Clemson enters the weekend with a perfect 6-0 ACC record while Virginia enters with a 5-1 record in the conference. The other big series is Georgia Tech visiting North Carolina which features the best pitching matchup this weekend with Deck McGuire facing off against Matt Harvey. The other series see Maryland visiting Florida State, Miami (FL) heading to NC State, Duke going to Boston College, and Wake Forest taking on Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

#8 Clemson (17-4, 6-0 ACC) at #1 Virginia (18-3, 5-1 ACC)

Written by Allen J. Kha

This weekend’s marquee series in the ACC, and perhaps all of college baseball, sees the Clemson Tigers head up to Charlottesville to take on the Virginia Cavaliers.

Virginia comes into this weekend’s matchup on a six-game winning streak after defeating an offensively-potent Marshall 6-3 mid-week and sweeping a pesky Boston College in a three game series last weekend. Meanwhile, the Tigers (17-4, 6-0 ACC) come to Davenport on a two-game losing streak after dropping two midweek games at home to Elon.

Virginia’s offense is extremely potent, averaging 8.8 runs per game and hitting .354 with a .529 slugging percentage and .441 on-base percentage. Virginia’s lineup, however, is the type of lineup that inflicts damage from top-to-bottom. While many of the Virginia batters possess power and multiple batting “tools”, Davenport Field discourages home run power and encourages gaps hitting and small-ball.

Virginia’s batters have maximized their home-field advantage, hitting an extraordinary 63 doubles and 12 triples. The Cavalier batters are generally patient and willing to take some pitches for the team, demonstrated by the team’s 109 walks and 25 hit-by-pitches (although most of the HBP came from very wild pitches).

Virginia will play fundamentally-sound baseball and will move and sacrifice to score runs if need be. The Cavalier batters, however, more often than not are simply too good for opposing pitchers—Virginia has a tendency to score runs in droves and masses (although this tendency is extremely consistent).

The key batters to watch out for on the Virginia side are three-hitter Dan Grovatt (.421 AVG), leadoff man Phil Gosselin (.420), and clean-up hitter Stephen Proscia (.341). Two-hitter Keith Werman (.475) is an impact player as well, although he may not see extensive playing time this weekend against Clemson’s Friday and Saturday lefty starters.

Star five-tool player Jarrett Parker is starting to heat up as well after an average start to the season, after notching 3 RBI on a flamboyant triple against Boston College last Sunday.

Virginia will start sophomore LHP Danny Hultzen (4-1, 1.06 ERA, .138 opponents’ batting average), junior RHP Robert Morey (3-1, 3.07 ERA, .252 opponents’ batting average) on Saturday, and junior RHP Cody Winiarski (2-0, 5.70 ERA, .297 opponents’ batting average) on Sunday. Hultzen and Morey are bona fide Friday and Saturday starters, and will give the Cavaliers a chance to win any time they pitch. Both Hultzen and Morey are coming off quality outings against Boston College.

Virginia faces a bit of uncertainty about its Sunday starter, however. Winiarski cooled down any concerns about a lack of a Sunday starter with a solid six-inning, one-run performance against Boston College last Sunday, although there are still concerns about his endurance.

Expect the bullpen to feature heavily should these games play out close. Virginia features a quality bullpen that is spearheaded by set-up man Tyler Wilson (3.26 ERA) and closer Kevin Arico (2.25 ERA, 7 SV). Branden Kline should feature in Sunday game should Winiarski not be able to pitch deep into the game, since he did not start or feature heavily in Virginia’s mid-week win against Marshall.

Clemson, hungry for a statement series victory against the Cavaliers, carries a strong lineup and poses matchup problems for the Cavaliers. The Tigers swept Virginia Tech in a three-game series at home last weekend, but snapped their 18-game home winning streak with the two mid-week losses to Elon.

The Tigers have a potent offense that averages 9.4 runs per game and hits .311 with a .530 slugging percentage and .422 on-base percentage. Clemson hitters are also patient, with 130 walks and 20 hit-by-pitches. Clemson has demonstrated more power throughout the season, with 47 doubles and 35 homers.

The Tigers will have to exert this power to help them win this series, although it is uncertain their power will be on display in a cavernous Davenport Field.

Dual-sport star Kyle Parker is hitting a team-high .405 with 10 HR and 23 RBIs, while Jeff Schaus is batting .321 with 6 HR and a team-high 31 RBIs. Wilson Boyd, a team leader on and off the field, is also hitting .333 and is riding a 12-game hitting streak.

The Tiger’s pitching staff is generally solid with a 3.69 ERA and .249 opponents’ batting average. The starting pitchers are solid: junior LHP Casey Harman (4-0, 1.86 ERA, .188 opponents’ batting average) will start on Friday, sophomore LHP Will Lamb (2-0, 2.08 ERA, .234 opponents’ batting average) on Saturday, and sophomore RHP Scott Weismann (3-0, 2.96 ERA, .239 opponents’ batting average) on Sunday. Clemson’s bullpen, however, struggled on Wednesday against Elon, giving up 11 runs in five innings, and will look to improve against Virginia.

The key factor to watch will be Virginia’s ability to kit against the Clemson lefties. Virginia’s lineup, especially the heart of the order, has struggled to hit against lefties (relatively speaking). It will be interesting to observe how Virginia’s lineup fares against really good LHP Harman and Lamb. Defense may also play a factor in the game—although both teams field above a .950-clip, both teams have shown tendencies to make careless fielding errors. In a series that pits two top-10 teams that match like-for-like, these little things may determine games, and consequently the series winner.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: CU LHP Casey Harman (4-0, 1.86 ERA) vs UVA LHP Danny Hultzen (4-1, 1.06 ERA)
Saturday: CU LHP Will Lamb (2-0, 2.08 ERA) vs UVA RHP Robert Morey (3-1, 3.07 ERA)
Sunday: CU RHP Scott Weismann (3-0, 2.96 ERA) vs UVA RHP Cody Winiarski (2-0, 5.70 ERA)

Predictions
Brian Foley: UVA 2-1
Kyle Tait: UVA 2-1
Skip McCarthy: UVA 2-1
Allen Kha: UVA 2-1

Virginia Series Notes
Clemson Series Notes

#3 Georgia Tech at #17 North Carolina

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head to Chapel Hill North Carolina this weekend to take on the Tar Heels. Georgia Tech enters the weekend with a 18-2 overall record while being 5-1 in the ACC. They are led on offense by Cole Leonida who is hitting .413 with five homers and 29 RBI in 20 games played. Matt Skole also checks in with a batting average above .400 at .403 while hitting six homers and driving in 21 runs. Deck McGuire has been the number 1 starter this season for the Yellow Jackets as he is 3-1 with a 1.15 ERA. He has made five starts this season while already picking up two complete games.

North Carolina enters this weekend with a 16-6 overall record while being 2-4 in ACC play. Dillon Hazlett is leading the Tar Heels offense as he is hitting .346 with three homers and 25 RBI. The pitching rotation for the Tar Heels has been led by Matt Harvey who enters this weekend with a 3-0 record and a 1.97 ERA. He has struck out 37 batters in 32 innings pitched.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: GT Deck McGuire, RHP, Jr. (3-1, 1.15 ERA, 39 K’s) vs UNC Matt Harvey, RHP, Jr. (3-0, 1.97 ERA, 37 K’s)
Saturday: GT Brandon Cumpton, RHP, Jr. (4-0, 4.82 ERA, 13 K’s) vs UNC Colin Bates, RHP, Jr. (3-0, 3.54 ERA, 24 K’s)
Sunday: GT – Jed Bradley, LHP, So. (3-1, 2.79 ERA, 39 K’s) vs UNC Patrick Johnson, RHP, Jr. (2-2, 3.25 ERA, 23 K’s)

Predictions
Brian Foley: GT 2-1
Kyle Tait: GT 2-1
Skip McCarthy: GT 2-1
Allen Kha: GT 2-1

GT Series Notes
UNC Series Notes

Maryland at #6 Florida State

Written by Michael Lemaire

After a disappointing series loss to Virginia to start conference play, Florida State (16-4, 3-3 ACC) showed a lot of moxie coming from behind to take two of three from North Carolina last weekend.

Now they get a slight reprieve as they welcome Maryland to Dick Howser Stadium. The Seminoles are winning with a striking balance in both their lineup and on the mound. Coach Mike Martin doesn’t have a single player with more than four home runs, but every regular starter has an on-base percentage of better than .400, led by freshman second baseman Justin Gonzalez (team-best .486) and third baseman Stuart Tapley (.471). Gonzalez and fellow freshman, first baseman Jayce Boyd, are leading the team in average at .379 and .381 respectively.

On the bump the Seminoles’ have a solid one-two punch in lefthander Sean Gilmartin (32 IP, 3-1, 2.25 ERA, 34 K) and John Gast (26.1 IP 3-1, 3.42 ERA, 21 K) but Geoff Parker (7.59 ERA) still hasn’t shown enough consistency on Sunday. I think coach Mike Martin likes the idea of Parker starting with long reliever Brian Busch on call. But Busch (18 IP, 3-0, 1.00 ERA, 15 K) has been dynamite, especially in relief of Parker on Sunday against the Tar Heels. It wouldn’t be a stretch to see Busch, who started 13 games last season, slide back into that Sunday role if Parker continues to struggle.

After winning the series opener in each of their first two ACC series against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, Maryland (9-12, 2-4 ACC) fell flat the rest of the weekend on both occasions. Coach Erik Bakich, who was suspended three games for bumping an umpire on last Saturday against Georgia Tech, will be back in the dugout this weekend against the ‘Noles but it will be quite impressive indeed if the Terps steal even one game at Dick Howser Stadium.

The good news for Bakich and the rest of the team is that up-and-down ace Brett Harman (34.1 IP, 3-2, 4.98 ERA, 33 K has been lights out in his last three starts, including eight shutout innings against Virginia Tech and eight innings and only two earned runs against Georgia Tech. On Saturday and Sunday, the Terps are likely to send lefthander Adam Kolarek (3.1 IP, 8 ER in his only start of the season against Georgia Tech) and Sander Beck (0-3, 6.94 ERA) respectively. One player to watch is sophomore lefthander Matt Fullerton, the team’s leader in wins as freshman. He has been cleared to play after missing the first part of the season with an elbow and he says he is 100%. He will likely see innings out of the bullpen this weekend.

To put it frankly, the Terps have been abysmal offensively this season. Left fielder Brandon Padula (.486 BA, .529 OBP, 17 RBI) has been the only legitimate offensive threat on a team that is last in the conference in runs scored (98) and batting average (.253) by a lot. If they are going to have any success in Tallahassee they will need second baseman David Poutier (.215 BA, 5 RBI) to play like he did last season when he led the Terps in runs scored and batting average.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: MD – RHP Brett Harman (3-2, 4.98 ERA) vs FSU – LHP – Sean Gilmartin (3-1, 2.25 ERA)
Saturday:  MD – LHP Adam Kolarek (1-1, 4.50 ERA) vs FSU – LHP – John Gast (3-1, 3.42 ERA)
Sunday: MD – RHP Sander Beck (0-3, 6.94 ERA) vs FSU – RHP – Geoff Parker (1-0, 7.59 ERA)

Predictions
Brian Foley: FSU sweep
Kyle Tait: FSU sweep
Skip McCarthy: FSU sweep
Allen Kha: FSU Sweep

Maryland Series Notes
FSU Series Notes

#12 Miami (FL) at NC State

The Miami Hurricanes make the trip up to NC State this weekend for a three game set against the Wolfpack. The Hurricanes enter the weekend with a 14-6 record after losing to Central Florida in a mid-week game this week. Chris Pelaez and Yasmani Grandal have been the best two hitters for the Hurricanes this season. Pelaez enters this weekend with a .348 average while hitting three homers and driving in 15 runs. Chris Hernandez is the top pitcher on the squad with his 2-2 record and an ERA of 1.97 on the year. He has also held opponents to a .197 batting average against.

NC State enters the weekend with a 14-7 overall record while being 2-4 in ACC play. The Pack enter the weekend on a two game losing streak as they lost the final game of their series with Wake Forest (4-3) and lost on Tuesday to Campbell (15-10). They are led on offense by Kyle Wilson who is .430 with two homers and 13 RBI. He also has picked up 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts. Chris Schaeffer enters the weekend with a .400 average with four homers and 16 RBI on the year. Jake Buchanan has been the top starting pitcher this year as he is 3-1 with an ERA of 3.58.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: Miami – LHP Chris Hernandez (2-2, 1.97) vs. NC State – RHP Jake Buchanan (3-1, 3.58)
Saturday: Miami – RHP Jason Santana (2-1, 6.20) vs. NC State – RHP Cory Mazzoni (3-1, 5.00)
Sunday: Miami -LHP Eric Erickson (1-1, 4.12) vs. NC State – LHP Eric Sogard (0-0, 4.91)

Predictions
Brian Foley: Miami sweep
Kyle Tait: Miami sweep
Skip McCarthy: Miami 2-1
Allen Kha: NC State 2-1

Miami (FL) Series Notes
NC State Series Notes

Duke at Boston College

The Duke Blue Devils head up north to play the Boston College Eagles this weekend in a key three game set for both schools. Duke enters the weekend with a 13-7 overall record while being 2-4 in the ACC after being swept by Miami (FL) last weekend. They enter the weekend after winning a mid-week game at Davidson 6-2. The top hitter on the Blue Devils is Mike Carroll who has a .318 average while driving in five runs. Jeremy Gould is also having a solid season as he has a .308 average with a homer and 13 RBI. The Blue Devils pitching staff is headlined by Christopher Manno’s return to the weekend rotation. He has appeared in five games this season all out of the bullpen where he has a 1-0 record while accumulating a 0.66 ERA. Ben Grisz has been the top guy out of the bullpen as he has made 10 appearances. He is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA including two saves on the year.

Boston College enters the weekend with a 8-12 overall record while being 1-5 in the ACC. They are coming off a 7-4 victory over Holy Cross on Thursday. The Eagles have been led at the plate by 2009 All-ACC team member Robbie Anston. He is currently hitting .393 with a homer and 11 RBI. He also has picked up seven steals in nine attempts. John Spatola has also been a force at the plate as he is hitting .370 with seven homers and 19 RBI. The Eagles pitching has been a disaster to say the least this season after Pat Dean. They currently have a team ERA of 7.19. Pat Dean returns to the weekend rotation this week as he is expected to start on Sunday. He is currently 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in four starts as he had a minor arm injury last week which did not allow him to pitch. Tyler Lasko (1-0, 2.84 ERA) and Mike Dennhardt (1-4, 9.00 ERA) are expected to be the other two weekend starters this weekend.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: Duke-Christopher Manno, LHP (1-0, 0.66 ERA) vs BC- Taylor Lasko, RHP (1-0, 2.84 ERA)
Saturday: Duke- Eric Pfisterer, LHP (2-2, 6.31 ERA) vs BC- Mike Dennhardt, RHP (1-4, 9.00 ERA)
Sunday: Duke- Dennis O’Grady, RHP (0-0, 2.75 ERA) vs BC- Pat Dean, LHP (3-0, 2.79 ERA)

Predictions
Brian Foley: Duke 2-1
Kyle Tait: Duke 2-1
Skip McCarthy: BC 2-1
Allen Kha: BC 2-1

Duke Series Notes
Boston College Series Notes

Wake Forest at Virginia Tech

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons head on the road this weekend for a trip up to Blacksburg Virginia to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies. Wake Forest enters the weekend with a 7-15 record while being 1-5 in the ACC. The Demon Deacons are coming off a mid-week loss to High Point 11-3. They are led on offense by Steven Brooks who is hitting .355 with three homers and 11 RBI. Mike Murray who was also an All-Star in the CCBL is having a strong campaign as he is hitting .338 with three homers and 20 RBI. The Wake Forest pitching staff has been led by freshman Tim Cooney who is 2-1 with a 3.73 ERA in his five starts this season.

Virginia Tech enters this weekend with a 14-8 overall record while being 2-4 in ACC play. They picked up a mid-week victory over Liberty by a score of 10-0 after being swept by Clemson last weekend in South Carolina. The Hokies offense has been led by Buddy Sosnoskie who is hitting .455 with three homers and 13 RBI. Austin Wates who is expected to be selected in the top rounds of the 2010 MLB Draft is also being productive at the plate as he is hitting .434 with two homers and 18 RBI. Jesse Hahn (TCBB #23) has been outstanding on the mound this season as he is 4-1 with a 1.34 ERA. He has struck out 29 batters in his 33.2 innings of work.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: WF- RHP Michael Dimock (So., 1-3, 6.30) vs. VT- LHP Justin Wright (Jr., 2-3, 5.76)
Saturday: WF- LHP Tim Cooney (Fr., 2-1, 3.73) vs. VT- RHP Jesse Hahn (Jr., 4-1, 1.34)
Sunday: WF- LHP Austin Stadler (So., 1-0, 5.17) vs. VT- LHP Joe Mantiply (Fr., 2-1, 5.49)

Predictions
Brian Foley: VT 2-1
Kyle Tait: VT 2-1
Skip McCarthy: VT 2-1
Allen Kha: VT 3-0

Wake Forest Series Notes
Virginia Tech Series Notes

  • strikeone

    looks to be a good weekend. looking forward to seeing the md/florida state game.