Last season, the ACC Coastal Division was won by the Virginia Cavaliers as they finished with a 23-7 conference record. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets came in second place with a 21-9 mark. The Miami Hurricanes only finished one game behind the Yellow Jackets in third place while the Virginia Tech Hokies finished with a 16-14 record. North Carolina finished in fifth spot with a 14-16 conference record while the Duke Blue Devils finished last at 8-22.
Virginia ended up hosting an NCAA Regional which they were able to win but was defeated in the Super Regional round by the Oklahoma Sooners with a berth in the College World Series on the line. Georgia Tech also hosted an NCAA Regional but was eliminated when they lost two games to the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Miami Hurricanes ended up winning the Coral Gables Regional advancing to the Gainesville Super Regional where the Florida Gators defeated them in two tough games. Virginia Tech also made an appearance in the NCAA Tourney getting sent to the South Carolina Regional where they qualified for the Regional Final before bowing out to eventual National Champion South Carolina. Even though the Tar Heels didn’t qualify for the ACC Tourney, they received an at-large berth in the NCAA Tourney as they were sent to the Norman (Oklahoma) Regional. They went 2-2 with victories over Cal and Oral Roberts sandwiched around two losses to Oklahoma.
Duke (29-27 overall, 8-22 ACC)
The Duke Blue Devils had a disappointing 2010 campaign finishing with a 29-27 overall record and an ACC record of 8-22 missing out on the ACC postseason tournament. The Blue Devils had an impressive 21-5 out of conference record but only defeated a struggling Georgia program from any of the power conferences. The schedule in 2011 will not be much different as they have zero non-conference games scheduled against a power conference.
Duke’s offense in 2010 struggled as they finished tenth in the conference with a .284 team batting average in 56 games. They had the least amount of homers (40) and RBI (296) in the conference. The Blue Devils struggled with getting walks as they only had 166 on the year which was the lowest in the conference.
The Blue Devils return only two of their top five hitters from last season in junior outfielder Will Piwica-Worms and seniorinfielder Dennis O’Grady. Piwica-Worms had a breakout sophomore season which saw him hit .313 with six homers and 44 RBI. He spent the summer of 2010 in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Orleans Firebirds. He finished the summer with a .200 average while driving in ten runs. Dennis O’Grady also returns after a 2010 season which saw him hit .283 with two homers and 28 RBI.
The biggest losses in the lineup are Jake Lemmerman, Jeremy Gould, and Ryan McCurdy. Lemmerman finished last season as the team leader in all three triple crown categories with a .335 batting average, eleven homers, and 45 RBI. Gould was the second leading hitter with a .317 average while hitting seven homers and driving in 42 runs. Ryan McCurdy also leaves the program after hitting .280 and driving in 20 RBI.
The Blue Devils bring back the top three starting pitchers from last season in Eric Pfisterer, Dennis O’Grady, and Chase Bebout. Junior LHP Eric Pfisterer led the team in starts with 13 while making 15 appearances as he went 3-6 with a 6.54. Senior RHP Dennis O’Grady went 2-5 with a 5.09 ERA in 15 appearances (11 starts). Sophomore RHP Chase Bebout comes back after going 4-2 with a 5.92 ERA in 12 appearances (nine starts).
Marcus Stroman is expected to make an impact on the Duke Blue Devils pitching staff this season as he made 17 appearances (five starts) while going 6-4 including three saves with a 5.31 ERA. He had one of the best summers in the Cape Cod Baseball League as he went 1-0 with 10 saves and a perfect ERA of 0.00. Opponents were terrible against him in the Cape as they only hit .120 off of him.
The Blue Devils bring in a solid recruiting class with six freshmen that could contribute this season. One of the biggest recruits is Christopher Marconcini from Brentwood, Tenn who will see time at first base and on the mound for Duke. Jordan Betts from Wilmington NC could see time as 6-2 210 pound corner infielder. Outfielder Anthony D’Alessandro (Mahwah, NJ) and pitchers Drew Van Orden (Manhattan Beach CA), and Dillon Haviland (McDonald, PA).
Georgia Tech (47-15 overall, 21-9 ACC)
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets finished in second place in the ACC Coastal Division but had the second best record in the conference behind the Virginia Cavaliers. They went 1-2 in the ACC Tourney losing to Virginia Tech 6-2 before defeating NC State 17-5 with the Clemson Tigers defeating them 9-3 to eliminate the Yellow Jackets from the conference tourney. They were selected to host the Atlanta Regional in the NCAA Tourney where they opened up with back to back wins against Mercer (10-0) and Alabama (5-2) before dropping two straight games to Alabama 8-1 and 10-8 to end their season. It was the third straight year (second at home) where the Yellow Jackets lost when being in the Regional Championship game.
Georgia Tech finished tied for second in the conference .326 batting average while leading the conference with 122 homers. They lose their top four hitters from last season in Thomas Nichols (.376 BA, 10 HR, 41 RBI), Tony Plagman (.360 BA, 21 HR, 78 RBI), Chase Burnette (.356 BA, 17 HR, 66 RBI), and Derek Dietrich (.350 BA, 17 HR, 61 RBI) who have all moved onto the minor leagues or completed their eligibility.
The top returning hitter is junior Matt Skole who finished last season with a .335 batting average while finishing second on the team with 20 homers and driving in 63 runs. He held a .682 slugging percentage which was the third highest in the conference. Matt was honored as a First Team All-ACC team member for his great season. He spent the summer of 2010 in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Falmouth Commodores. He finished the summer with a .245 batting average with three homers and 21 RBI. He is widely considered a top prospect for the 2011 MLB draft including being named the 59th best player by College Baseball Daily. The only other everyday starter to return is junior infielder Jacob Esch who hit .284 with three homers and 38 RBI.
Georgia Tech returns two-thirds of the weekend rotation losing number 1 starter Deck McGuire who was a first round selection in the 2010 MLB Draft. They do bring back Jed Bradley and Mark Pope who each made over ten starts. Junior LHP Jed Bradley is expected to step into the number 1 spot in the rotation after going 9-5 in 16 starts while having an ERA of 4.83 in 91.1 innings. He was rated by College Baseball Daily as the 12th best player in the country. Junior RHP Mark Pope also comes back after going 8-1 with a 3.78 ERA in 13 appearances (11 starts) as a mid-week starter. He was rated as the 92nd best player in the country by College Baseball Daily.
The Georgia Tech roster is loaded with 16 freshmen as many of them will be expected to fill into the holes left by the top hitters from last season. The biggest hole to fill will be catcher where they will have to replace Cole Leonida who was a solid catcher last season as he starting in 61 out of the 62 games.
Miami (FL) (43-20 overall, 20-10 ACC)
The Miami Hurricanes finished 2010 with a 43-20 overall record while going 20-10 in ACC play. They qualified for the ACC Tournament which they defeated arch-rival Florida State 9-3 in the opening game before losing to Boston College 12-10 in 12 innings and Virginia 12-8. They were selected to host an NCAA Regional in Coral Gables in which they defeated Dartmouth 12-8 before playing three games against Texas A&M. They beat the Aggies in the first game 14-1 before dropping the second game 11-7 and then won the regional in a winner take all game 10-3. They went onto the University of Florida for the Super Regionals and were swept by the Gators by scores of 7-2 and 4-3 (10 innings).
They return three out of the top five hitters from last year’s team in Chris Pelaez, Nathan Melendres and Harold Martinez. Pelaez is a senior outfielder who played his first season with the Hurricanes in 2010 after transferring from the University of Louisville. He ended up hitting .314 with 11 homers and 53 RBI. Junior outfielder Nathan Melendres also comes back after hitting .301 with nine homers and 35 RBI last season. The best pro prospect is junior corner infielder Harold Martinez who finished last season with a team high 21 homers and 69 RBI while hitting .295. The biggest adjustment for Martinez will be the loss of first round pick Yasmani Grandal to the lineup as Martinez hit behind him throughout last season. Martinez was rated as the 42nd best player in the country by College Baseball Daily. The other impact player for the 2011 season could be Cade Kreuter who comes over from USC after his father Chad Kreuter was relieved of his coaching duties during the summer of 2010. Kreuter received an exemption to be eligible this season after having a .283 batting average with eight homers and 24 RBI in 53 games with the Trojans last year.
The Hurricanes also lost Frankie Ratcliff who was kicked off the team after being arrested on the Miami campus for selling marijuana and had vials of HGH found in his apartment room. Ratcliff appeared in 57 games last season hitting .276 with six homers while driving in 29 runs.
Miami (FL) led the ACC in ERA last season at 3.68 but do not return any of the weekend starters from last season’s squad. Stephen Ewing is the top returning starting pitcher as he appeared in eight games (five starts) while going 2-2 with a 5.18 ERA. Daniel Miranda is the to reliever coming back wit the Canes rotation as he went 5-3 with five saves while having a 3.23 ERA. Opponents hit at a .215 average.
North Carolina (38-22 overall, 14-16 ACC)
The North Carolina Tar Heels had a 38-22 overall record while going 14-16 in ACC play during the 2010 season. They did not qualify for the ACC Tourney but received an at-large berth to the NCAA Tourney. They went 2-2 in the tourney defeating Cal and Oral Roberts but lost two games to Oklahoma to end the season.
North Carolina had a .309 batting average while hitting 45 team homers which was the second lowest total in the conference. Junior infielder Levi Michael led the Tar Heels in 2010 with a .346 batting average while hitting nine homers and 54 RBI. He played in the summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Harwich Mariners where he was named an All-Star while hitting .252 with two homers and 16 RBI in 36 games. He was rated by College Baseball Daily as the 39th best player in the country. The other top returnee is Ben Bunting who hit .313 with two homers and 25 RBI. The Tar Heels lost a ton of talent from with the loss of Ryan Graepel (Graduated), Dillion Hazlett (transferred to Emporia State), and Brian Goodwin (transfer to Miami Dade-County) who were both key members of the lineup last season.
The North Carolina pitching staff finished last year with a team ERA of 4.19 which was fourth best in the conference. The Tar Heels will have to replace number 1 starter Matt Harvey who was selected in the first round by the New York Mets. Senior righthander Patrick Johnson is expected to step into the top spot in the rotation after going 6-3 with a 3.71 ERA in 2010. Sophomore Chris Munnelly is back after going 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA. Senior Greg Holt and Sophomore Michael Morin both return after tying for the team lead with three saves last season.
Virginia (51-14 overall, 23-7 ACC)
The Virginia Cavaliers went 51-14 overall while winning the ACC Coastal Division with a 23-7 record. They won the Charlottesville Regional by going 3-1. They opened the regionals by defeating intrastate rival VCU 15-4 before defeating Ole Miss 13-7. They then lost the first game of the Regional Championship to St. John’s 6-5 before bouncing back with a 5-3 win in the winner take all game. The Cavs were selected to host Oklahoma in the Super Regionals. In Game 1, the Cavs walked away with a 3-2 victory before losing the final two games 10-7 and 11-0 to end the season.
The Cavaliers led the ACC in batting average with a team batting average of .331. They return two of the top five top hitters from last season in Keith Werman and John Barr. Werman led the team with a .414 batting average with 23 RBI while playing solid defense making only two errors for a fielding percentage of .989. Barr is coming off a good campaign which saw him hit .373 with a hoer and 22 RBI. Three other players who could make an impact this season are Kenny Swab, Steven Proscia and John Hicks. Swab played in 43 games last season hitting .328 while Poscia hit .314 in 64 games while Hicks hit .307. The biggest issue with the Cavaliers that they will have to replace their top two power hitters in Phil Gosselin (11 homers) and Jarrett Parker (10 homers).
The Virginia pitching staff had a solid season finishing second in the conference with a 3.89 ERA while leading the conference in saves with 25. The starting rotation will again be led by junior LHP Danny Hultzen. He has a career record of 20-2 in his first two seasons serving as the number 1 starter during the 2010 season. Last year, he went 11-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 106.2 innings as he held opponents to a .193 batting average against. He was rated as the 14th best player in the country by College Baseball Daily. Cody Winiarski who served as the number three starter last season going 5-0 with a 4.68 ERA. The Cavs do lose number two starter Robert Morey who went 9-4 with a 4.20 ERA in 15 starts.
The biggest loss for the Cavs is closer Kevin Arico. Last season, he was one of the best closers in the country as he appeared in 29 games with a 1-1 record and an ERA of 2.88 while having 18 saves. The 18 saves were the top in the entire country last season. Senior RHP Tyler Wilson and Sophomore RHP Branden Kline each were tied for second on the team with three saves last season. Wilson would be the early favorite as he has worked out of the bullpen in 69 out of 72 appearances in his career.
Virginia Tech (40-22, 16-14 ACC)
The Virginia Tech Hokies made their first appearance in the NCAA Tourney in 2010 since the 2000 season. They ended up going 40-22 overall and 16-14 in ACC play. They went 2-1 in the ACC Tourney with victories over Georgia Tech (6-2) and Clemson (9-8) while losing to NC State 10-9. They were sent to the South Carolina Regional as they went 2-2 with victories over Bucknell (16- 7) and The Citadel (4-3) while they opened the regional with a loss to The Citadel (7-2) and in the Regional Championship to South Carolina (10-2).
The Hokies had a team batting average of .319 which was fourth best in the conference in 2010 but the offense will be much different this year as the Hokies only return two out of the nine everyday starters from last season. Junior Ronnie Shaban is the top returning hitter after hitting .346 with eight homers and led the team with 67 RBI. The other returning position player is Michael Seaborn who hit .283 with seven homers and 44 RBI.
The Virginia Tech starting pitching has been decimated with losses as all three of their weekend starters in Jesse Hahn, Justin Wright, and Matthew Price from last season are gone. They also lost closer Ben Rowen who led the team with six saves last season. Joe Mantiply leads the returning pitchers in starts with seven last season out of 22 appearances. He went 4-1 with a 5.62 ERA. Senior RHP Manny Martir is also back after going 4-3 with a 7.97 ERA in 12 appearances (five starts).
Projected Order of Finish
1. Virginia *
2. Georgia Tech *
3. Miami *
5. Virginia Tech
*Projected NCAA Tourney Participant