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ACC Weekend Preview (March 11th-13th)

The ACC opens the conference portion of the schedule with a couple of ranked teams facing off with #6 Virginia visiting # 8 Clemson. The other conference matchups are Boston College at Florida State, North Carolina at Wake Forest, Maryland at Georgia Tech, NC State at Duke, and Virginia Tech visiting Miami.

Boston College at #5 Florida State

Boston College heads down to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles in the ACC opener for both squads. The Eagles enter the weekend with a 6-5 record after winning four out of their last five games with the last outing being a 18-0 loss to Central Florida. Florida State enters the weekend a 12-1 record with the only loss coming to Georgia last weekend.

The Eagles offense heads into this weekend with a .268 batting average which is 9th best in the counference. They have been led all season by freshman outfielder Thomas Bourdon who is the top hitter on the team with a .353 batting average with a homer and four RBI. The other player to watch for the Eagles is senior infielder Anthony Melchionda who is hitting .317 with a team high 15 RBI.

Boston College’s weekend pitching has been respectable with Mike Dennhardt in the Friday spot, Nate Bayuk on Saturday, and John Leonard taking the Sunday starter role. Dennhardt is up and down in the early going as he has a 1-1 record with a 5.79 ERA. He was able to pick up the win in his last start against Bethune-Cookman where he gave up four runs in six innings of work. Bayuk leads the starting rotation with a 2-0 record and an ERA of 1.69 in four appearances (two starts) totaling 16 innings pitched. Leonard rounds out the weekend rotation as he is 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA in four appearances (three starts). He pitched well in his last outing against Michigan State as he gave up allowed one run in 7.2 innings of work,

The backend of the BC bullpen is led by senior two-way player Garrett Smith who has not given up a run yet this season in his three relief appearances while accumulating two saves. Besides Smith, the bullpen is an absolute mess right now with Kyle Prohovich being the other arm to watch as he is 0-1 with a 7.11 ERA but has been solid in a couple of his outings this season.

The Florida State Seminoles offense checks in with a .324 batting average. The offensive star of the early portion of the season has been leadoff hitter Devon Travis. He heads into the weekend with a .417 batting average with two homers and 13 RBI. The 2010 John Olerud Award winner senior Mike McGee is another player to watch as he is batting .404 with three homers and 17 RBI.

The FSU pitching staff is led by 2009 freshman All-American Sean Gilmartin who has started to return to form. He enters the weekend with a perfect 3-0 record with a 1.23 ERA in four appearances (three starts). The other two spots in the weekend rotation will be filled by Brian Busch and Scott Sitz. Busch has made three starts this season going 1-0 with a 3.35 ERA. Sitz is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in three appearances also.

The FSU bullpen is led by senior two-way player Mike McGee who has two saves on the year in three appearances while having a 3.00 ERA. Hunter Scantling has been solid out of the pen as he is 1-0 with an ERA of 0.00 in nine innings pitched but made a start on Wednesday against Maine which might limit his availability on Friday night for the Noles.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: BC RHP Mike Dennhardt (1-1, 5.79 ERA) vs FSU Sean Gilmartin (3-0, 1.23 ERA)
Saturday: BC LHP Nate Bayuk (2-0, 1.69 ERA) vs FSU Brian Busch (1-0, 3.55 ERA)
Sunday: BC RHP John Leonard (2-1, 2.75 ERA) vs FSU Scott Sitz (2-0, 1.65 ERA)

Predictions
Brian Foley: FSU 2-1
Mark Rafferty: FSU Sweep

#6 Virginia at #8 Clemson

The Virginia Cavaliers head down to South Carolina this weekend to take on the Clemson Tigers in the conference opening series for both schools. Virginia enters the weekend with a 13-1 overall record with the only loss coming to East Carolina. Clemson enters the weekend with a 7-3 record after losing two out of three games to arch-rival South Carolina.

Virginia heading into the weekend has a team batting average of .309 but have not hit a homer on the year. Leading the offensive charge has been John Hicks who has started all 14 games this season as he is batting .370 with 11 RBI while having a team high six doubles on the year. Danny Hultzen is second on the squad with a.361 batting average while being second on the team with 13 RBI. Steven Proscia leads the team with 14 RBI but is hitting a disappointing .255 on the year.

The Virginia pitching staff has been led by Danny Hultzen who has been the best pitching in the conference in my opinion during the out of conference portion of the schedule. He is a perfect 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA in 20.2 innings . He has shown excellent control striking out 36 batters while walking only one. One ACC player called him the most difficult pitcher he has faced as Hultzen is able to pick his spots and consistently give hitters fits. The other two spots in the rotation will be taken up by Tyler Wilson and Cody Winiarski. Wilson is making the conversation from the bullpen but has been outstanding in his first three starts of the year as he is also a perfect 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA. Winiarski has been solid in the Saturday role this season but will move to Sunday this weekend as he is 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA.

As always with Virginia, they have a solid closer. This year it is Branden Kline who hasn’t gotten a decision yet but has five saves which puts him among the national leaders. He has struck out nine batters while walking only one in his 6.2 innings of work.

The weekend for the Tigers see them coming in with a conference leading .343 batting average. Leading the lineup is sophomore catcher Spencer Kieboom who is hitting .500 with 11 RBI while playing in all ten games. Junior third baseman John Hinson has started to come around as he is hitting .308 with a homer and seven RBI.

The Clemson pitching staff has been solid this season with a staff ERA of 3.17 but will be shorthanded this weekend. The Tigers received word this week that Kevin Brady will be out the next two weeks after suffering a strained forearm against South Carolina on Sunday. Scott Weismann is expected to get the ball on Friday against Hultzen as he is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts totaling 15 innings pitched. I would expect David Haselden to get the ball for one of the starts this weekend as he is 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in five appearances including two starts. The only other pitcher this year that has made a start is Justin Sarratt who doesn’t have a decision in his three appearances (one start) but has not given up an earned run in six innings of work. Dominic Leone who was penciled in for a starting spot in the weekend rotation is also not available as he is dealing with arm issues as he sports a 8.10 ERA in two appearances.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: UVA LHP Danny Hultzen (3-0, 0.87 ERA) vs CU RHP Scott Weismann (2-1, 5.40 ERA)
Saturday: UVA RHP Tyler Wilson (3-0, 1.42 ERA) vs CU TBA
Sunday: UVA RHP Cody Winiarski (2-1, 1.86 ERA) vs CU TBA

Predictions
Brian Foley: Virginia sweep
Mark Rafferty: Virginia 2-1

#14 North Carolina at Wake Forest

My surprise in the ACC this season has been the North Carolina Tar Heels who head down the road to Winston-Salem to take on the struggling Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Tar Heels enter the weekend on a seven game winning streak after sweeping Stony Brook last weekend and defeating Elon and St. John’s during midweek games. Wake Forest enters with a 4-8 record while being on a four game slide with losses to Fordham, Towson, Radford, and Coastal Carolina in the past week.

The Tar Heels enter the weekend with a team batting average of .317 which is good enough for fourth place in the conference. They have also hit 10 homers as a squad this season which is third in the conference. The leading hitter on the squad has been junior shortstop Levi Michael who is hitting .385 with two homers and second on the team with 16 RBI. Freshman Colin Moran leads the team with 18 RBI while being second on the squad with a .383 batting average.

The Tar Heels number 1 starter this weekend will be senior Patrick Johnson who is a perfect 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in four appearances (three starts). He has allowed only 11 hits in 20 innings of work while striking out 17 batters. Sophomore Chris Munnelly will get the ball on Saturday as he is 2-0 with a 4.08 ERA and sophomore Michael Morin will be the Sunday starter as he is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA.

Cody Penny has been serving as the Tar Heels closer during the early part of the season as he has made five appearances totaling 4.2 innings while picking up three saves. Greg Holt has been a solid reliever for the Heels as he is 3-0 in seven appearances while having an ERA 1.42 in 12.2 innings.

Wake Forest has the worst hitting offense in the conference with a .228 team batting average through their first 12 games of the season. Matt Conway is the top hitter with a .349 batting average while hitting three homers and driving in 17 runs. Mac Williamson is the second leading hitter on the team at .295 with a homer and nine RBI.

The Wake Forest pitching staff has not been much better as they are 11th in the conference with a 5.06 ERA ahead of only Boston College. Sophomore Tim Cooney leads the weekend rotation with a 1-1 record and a 2.25 ERA in three appearances totaling 20 innings pitched. The biggest disappointment has been junior Austin Stadler who has struggled as he is 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA in his three starts. Opponents are teeing off on him as they are hitting .389. The other spot in the weekend rotation is up in the air right now but I would expect Zach White to get the chance to fill that role this weekend as he is 0-1 with 4.66 ERA in four appearances (two starts). The biggest issue with him is that opponents have hit .333 off of him.

Chris Wilson has served as the closer as he has two saves to go with a 0-1 record and a 6.75 ERA in five appearances. Daniel Marrs has been the best reliever for the Demon Deacons as he has appeared in five games with a 1.69 ERA but has struggled with his control walking eight guys in only 5.1 innings of work.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: UNC Patrick Johnson, RHP(Sr., 2-0, 1.37) WF Austin Sadler, LHP (Jr., 0-2, 6.60)
Saturday: UNC Chris Munnelly, RHP (So., 2-0, 4.08) vs WF Tim Cooney, LHP (So., 1-1, 2.25)
Sunday: UNC Michael Morin, RHP (So., 0-1, 6.75) vs WF TBD

Predictions
Brian Foley: UNC sweep
Mark Rafferty: UNC sweep

Maryland at #25 Georgia Tech

The Maryland Terrapins enter the weekend with a record of 8-4 as they enter the weekend on a three game winning streak defeating Canisius twice and Delaware during a mid-week game. Georgia Tech heads into the ACC portion of the schedule with a four game winning streak after sweeping a three game set from Rutgers last weekend and dismissing Kennesaw State on Tuesday.

The Maryland offense is much improved this season even though they have a team batting average of /265 which is tenth in the conference. They are led by junior Ryan Holland who is hitting .394 with five RBI while playing in 12 games (nine starts). College of Southern Nevada transfer Tomo Delp has been a big addition to the lineup as he is hitting .277 with a homer and a team high 10 RBI this year.

The Maryland pitching staff is tenth heading into the weekend with a 3.87 team ERA but the starting pitching has been solid lead by junior college transfer David Carroll. He is expected to start on Saturday against Jed Bradley as he has a perfect 3-0 record with a 1.33 ERA in 20.1 innings pitcher. The other two spot in the weekend rotation will be Sanders Beck who is 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA and Eric Potter who has been excellent with a 2-0 record and a 0.89 ERA.

The Georgia Tech offense has been on fire early in the year even though they are loaded with freshmen in the lineup. They have a team batting average of .335 which is the second best mark in the ACC up to this point. Leading the Yellow Jackets attack has been Matt Skole who is hitting .415 with three homers and 11 RBI. Kyle Wren is second on the squad with a .404 batting average while driving in 12 runs. Daniel Palka (13), Brandon Thomas (10), and Mott Hyde (10) are three other players to watch as each of them have over ten RBI already this year.

The name of the game for Georgia Tech has been the two headed duo of Mark Pope and Jed Bradley leading the pitching staff. Pope has stepped into the Friday night role that was left vacated with the loss of Deck McGuire as he is 3-0 with a 0.42 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched. Bradley has also been solid with a record of 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 17.1 innings pitched while striking out 27. Buck Farmer is expected to get the start on Sunday which has been a major thorn in the side of the Yellow Jackets as they have lost two out of three Sundays this year. Farmer is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 15 innings pitched this year while striking out 20 batters.

The Yellow Jackets have not settled on a closer yet as both Luke Bard and Jacob Esch have a save on the year. Bard is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA while Esch has a 4.50 ERA in two appearances.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: MD RHP Sanders Beck (0-1, 4.96, 16.1 IP, 19 SO) vs GT RHP Mark Pope (3-0, 0.42, 21.2 IP, 19 SO)
Saturday: MD RHP David Carroll (3-0, 1.33, 20.1 IP, 12 SO) vs GT LHP Jed Bradley (1-0, 2.08, 17.1 IP, 27 SO)
Sunday: MD LHP Eric Potter (2-0, 0.89, 20.1 IP, 15 SO) GT RHP Buck Farmer (1-1, 3.00, 15.0 IP, 20 SO)

Predictions
Brian Foley: GT 2-1
Mark Rafferty: GT 2-1

NC State at Duke

The NC State Wolfpack enter the weekend with a 7-5 record while being on a modest two game winning streak after grabbing two games from Radford during their midweek series. The Blue Devils open up ACC play with an overall record of 11-3 and have won four out of their last five games after losing to William and Mary on Wednesday by a score of 7-4.

The NC State Wolfpack offense has been a little bit disappointing as they have a .308 batting average which is seventh best in the conference. Chris Diaz leads the offense as he is hitting .409 with a homer and six RBI. Brett Williams is second on the squad with a .405 batting average with two homers and nine RBI.

Cory Mazzoni will get the ball on Friday against the Blue Devils as he is 1-1 with a 3.98 ERA in his first three starts of the season. On Saturday, Danny Healey will get the ball as he is 1-0 with a 1.96 ERA in three starts. He has held opponents to an impressive .115 batting average against. Ethan Ogburn is 0-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three appearances (one start) as he has held opponents to a .179 batting average against.

Grant Sasser is the only person on the NC State pitching staff to record a save as he hasn’t given up an earned run this year while going 1-1 in four appearances.

The Duke Blue Devils have the fifth best batting average heading into the conference portion of the schedule at .310. Jordan Betts leads the lineup at .442 with 12 RBI in 14 games. Anthony D’Alessandro is second on the squad with a .400 batting average with 10 RBI. Jeff Kremer (.349 BA), Chris Marconcini (.340 BA), David Perkins (.323 BA), and Angelo LaBruna (.318 BA) are all hitters to watch out for this weekend who could do damage against the Wolfpack.

Chase Bebout leads the ptiching staff as he has been among the elite starting pitchers in the entire country with a 2-0 record and a 0.46 ERA in 19.2 innings pitched. He has shown excellent control as he has struck out 20 batters while walking only four. Dennis O’Grady will get the ball on Saturday as he is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in his first three starts. The Blue Devils haven’t announced a starter for Sunday yet but they could potentially go with Marcus Stroman in that spot as he has made three appearances (one start) whie only giving up three hits and holding opponents to a .125 batting average against. Ben Grisz and Drew Van Orden both are tied for the team lead with a save.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: NCS Cory Mazzoni (1-1, 3.98) vs DU Chase Bebout (2-0, 0.46 ERA)
Saturday: NCS Danny Healey (1-0, 1.96) vs DU Dennis O’Grady (3-0, 0.90 ERA)
Sunday: NCS Ethan Ogburn (0-0, 2.00)  vs DU TBA

Predictions
Brian Foley: Duke 2-1
Mark Rafferty: NC State 2-1

Virginia Tech at Miami (FL)

The Virginia Tech Hokies head into the weekend with a 10-4 record after winning three out of their last four games. Miami (FL) will play host this weekend as they are a very disappointing 5-8 on the year and have lost five out of their last six games.

The Hokies have the ninth best offense in the conference with a team batting average of .293 but lead the conference with 20 team homers. Andrew Rash has been the top hitter on the team with a .380 batting average with six homers and 21 RBI. Rash has been a surprise to me as he has become one of the top power hitters in the entire country. Tony Balisteri is second on the squad with a .357 batting average while hitting a respectable three homers and driving in 11 runs.

Virginia Tech’s pitching staff is seventh in the conference with a 3.22 ERA. They are led by Joe Mantiply who is 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA as he is expected to start on Friday. Marc Zecchino who is 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in three starts. The Hokies have not set a starter for Sunday but I would expect Joe Parsons have a chance to get a chance for the Sunday spot with a 3-0 record with a 0.95 ERA. Manny Martir, Ronnie Shaban, and Jake Joyce all have recorded one save on the year as they have not set a true closer right now.

The Miami Hurricanes have been a disaster at the plate hitting only .236 as a team which is 11th in the conference. The top hitter has been Rony Rodriguez who is hitting .333 with two homers and driving in six runs which is a team high. Brad Fieger is second on the the squad with a .265 average and driving in four runs. Michael Broad and Zeke DeVoss are tied for third on the squad with a .255 batting average.

Miami’s pitching staff has a 3.23 ERA which is eighth best in the conference. The biggest surprise for the pitching staff has been Bryan Radziewki who has been the number 1 starter as a freshman. He sports a 1-1 with a 3.77 ERA. EJ Encinosa will be getting the ball on Saturday who is 0-2 with a 3.94 ERA and Eric Whaley is getting the ball on Sunday as he is 2-1 with a 3.00.

Sam Robinson and Daniel Miranda both have picked up one save on the year as the Hurricanes have not settled on a closer yet.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: VTech – LHP Joe Mantiply vs UM LHP Bryan Radziewski
Saturday: VTech – RHP Marc Zecchino vs UM RHP E.J. Encinosa
Sunday: VTech – TBA vs UM RHP Eric Whaley

Predictions
Brian Foley: VT 2-1
Mark Rafferty: Miami 2-1

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