ACC Baseball Tournament Round Up
I’m running a little behind on this as the Tournament actually started up on Tuesday, and there is a game going on as I write this so my apologies on the delay. I recently had to have ankle surgery and its thrown me all out of sorts. Anyway, lets get right into what you’re here for, the baseball news.
I’d first like to address how the ACC tournament is being run this year, as it is a little different than years past with the expansion of Syracuse and Pittsburgh being added. The tournament started as a 10 team tournament with two play-in games that lead to a 8 team round robin tournament. The tournament was kicked off with a matchup between in state rivals NC State and UNC, with UNC pulling it out 4-3 and exhausting their bullpen in the process (foreshadowing!). This was followed up by an ACC tournament killer team in GT who beat Wake Forest to officially knock them out. This gave us our final 8 teams and we were able to see the distinction of the two pools of teams.
Pool A (tournament seed) Pool B (tournament seed)
Miami (1) Florida State (2)
Duke (4) Virginia (3)
Clemson (5) Maryland (6)
Georgia Tech (9) North Carolina (7)
Each team will play each other once and the team from both pools with the best record advance to play each other for the championship. In the case of events two teams are tied the tie breaker will be head to head match up, and in the case of events 3 teams tie the team with the best conference record will advance. Lets see how the tournament is shaking out after 2.5 days.
Yesterday started off with Clemson taking care of business against Duke 5-3. Matt Crownover gave a strong performance pitching 7 and 2/3 innings allowing just 5 hits with 9 strikeouts. He gave up an early 2-0 lead to Duke, but settled down and took care of business as he got help from the offensive leader Tyler Kreiger who broke the game open with an RBI double. Clemson was able to move on and get an important victory in game 1.
Duke fans surely were not happy about the loss, but I’m sure their spirits were picked up by the middle game of yesterday’s triple header. Georgia Tech remained hot and knocked off the #1 seed in the tournament for the second time in 3 years by beating Miami decisively 6-3. The type of hitting Georgia Tech displayed yesterday would allow them to compete with anyone, racking up 14 hits including some key 2 out hits.
The final match up was between my Florida State Seminoles and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Mike Martin sent Billy Strode to the mound and boy did this move pay off. Billy pitched 6 scoreless innings, including retiring the first 11 batters of the game. To go along with Billy’s command on the mound FSU continued to show their patient hitting approach. They were able to get to starting pitcher Taylor Cherry early and often including two solo home runs to start innings by Justin Gonzalez and John Nogowski. Cherry was forced to pitch longer than UNC probably wanted but with a worn out bullpen they had little options. FSU put on cruise control and won 7-1 breaking their unbelievable 7 game losing streak in ACC tournament play (FINALLY).
As for today’s games Maryland and Virginia kicked us off this morning. Once again the favorite team is struggling, with Maryland up 7-4 on Virginia right now with the game still in progress. This would be a major win for Maryland and definitely put a smile on FSU fans’ faces. Later this afternoon we will have match-ups between Duke and Georgia Tech as well as Miami and Clemson. Both Georgia Tech and/or Clemson could take a strangle hold of the lead for pool A today.
Tomorrow’s triple header starts off with Florida State vs. Maryland, if Maryland can pull out the win today the winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat for pool B. This is followed by Georgia Tech’s final match up of the round robin against Clemson. Finally the night-cap will be Virginia vs UNC, with potentially both teams looking to rebound and get back in contention.
Saturday we will see the final match ups for round robin play with Miami vs Duke, Maryland vs. UNC and Virginia vs. FSU. The championship will be played Sunday between the champions of pools A & B. My completely non-homer prediction part way through Thursday will be a match up between FSU and Georgia Tech. I think GT can keep their bats working and make a nice run, but eventually be stopped by FSU who becomes your ACC Champion. Any other predictions out there, let me know!