This Week in ACC Baseball (4/25)

Notre Dame Quincy Nieporte by Larry Novey
This Week in ACC Baseball
ACC Weekly Recap
Notre Dame vs. No. 11 FSU: 6-12, 6-7, 6-11. FSU sweeps Series 3-0. The Seminoles’ bats exploded in the three-game series led by Quincy Nieporte and John Sansone. The duo combined for a 4-for-8 day at the plate in game one with four runs and 6 RBI. Nieporte finished the weekend 7-for-14 with 10 RBI, three homers and four runs. The Seminoles took a 2.5 game lead over Louisville in the win.
Georgia Tech vs. No. 20 Clemson: 7-8 (10), 16-1, 7-5. GT wins Series 2-1. Chris Okey delivered a 3 RBI day for an extra-inning win in game one, but the Yellow Jackets’ bats came to life in game two, tying a season high 16 runs and smacking a season-high 21 hits behind Trevor Craport, Connor Justus and Tristin English. Craport smashed a homer and 3 RBI in a 4-for-6 day at the dish, Justus added two runs and 2 RBI with a double and English smashed two long balls while adding 4 RBI in the shellacking of the Tigers.
No. 24 Virginia vs. No. 1 Miami: 6-5, 2-9, 7-3. Virginia wins Series 2-1. After clawing its way into the Top 25, the Cavaliers took 2-of-3 over the top ranked team in the nation to close the distance to the Hurricanes atop the conference. Nate Eikhoof led Virginia in game one, going 2-for-4 at the dish and collecting his first long ball of the season with 3 RBI in the win. Daniel Pinero paced the Hoos in a 3-for-4 outing with a double, home run, two runs and 2 RBI.
Louisville vs. Boston College: 1-6, 1-2, 6-2. BC wins Series 2-1. The Cardinals missed a great opportunity to maintain a spot atop the Atlantic division by falling to the last placed Eagles. Gian Martelli’s 2-for-3 performance led the Eagles in game one and BC was able to secure the series with a 2-1 win in game two. Louisville took the finale behind a strong performance from Kyle Funkhouser and Shane Hummel on the bump. Funkhouser worked six innings of four hit, two run ball and Hummel added two-plus in relief to earn the save.
Duke vs. VT: 2-3, 19-9, 3-1. Duke wins Series 2-1. The Hokies took game one 3-2 but couldn’t find a way to quiet the Blue Devils’ bats in the final two games of the series. Justin Bellinger finished the weekend 5-for-13 including a 3-for-3 outing in game two. Bellinger added 4 RBI, three runs and two doubles in the lopsided win. Brian McAfee turned in one of the best outings of the weekend in the ACC, firing eight strong innings in the rubber match.
UNC vs. Wake Forest: 1-6, 4-6, 2-3. Wake Forest sweeps Series 3-0. For the first time since 2011, the Demon Deacons get the brooms out on the Heels. Wake turned in strong pitching displays from Parker Dunshee and Connor Johnstone in the sweep. Dunshee worked eight innings of one-run ball and Johnstone followed with seven innings of work in the finale, surrendering only four hits.
Standout Performers
Pitcher of the Week: Brian McAfee of Duke fired eight innings of one-run ball to lead the Blue Devils to a series win over Virginia Tech in the finale. McAfee allowed seven hits while striking out five and did not allow a free pass, as the Devils pulled to within two games of second place Virginia and only six games out of the lead in the Coastal Division.
Hitter of the Week: Quincy Nieporte of Florida State walks lightly and swings a big stick, finishing the weekend series sweep over Notre Dame 7-for-14, 10 RBI, three home runs, three doubles and four runs scored. By the time the weekend dust had settled, the junior raised his average 31points.
Conference Matchup of the Week: No. 21 Virginia at Pitt
What a matchup as the final push toward the ACC Tournament begins with two of the hottest teams in the Coastal Division squaring off in the Steel City, separated by only a single game. Virginia enters winning seven of its last 10, including taking 2-of-3 from top-ranked Miami last weekend. The Cavaliers sit in second place at 11-10 in the Coastal, leading a five-team chase in hopes of catching division leading Miami. Virginia trails Miami by four games.
Meanwhile, the hottest team in the entire ACC is Pitt after winning six in a row and taking eight of its last 10. The Panthers are at 8-9 in the division and a series win could springboard them toward the top-half of the standings.
Virginia comes in swinging nearly .300 as a team at the plate with Matt Thaiss and Ernie Clement leading the team with a .368 and .346 average, respectively. However, the Cavaliers got a much needed boost from Nate Eikhoof and Daniel Pinero in the Miami series, after both clubbed their first long ball of the season, both coming in wins.
The Cavaliers will likely send the trio of Connor Jones, Adam Haseley and Alec Bettinger to the bump this weekend, hoping to snap Pitt’s six-game winning streak. Haseley and Jones share the role of the ace, with Haseley owning a better ERA (1.56) but Jones possessing a better record (8-1). A bright spot in the rotation also came in the finale Sunday for Bettinger as the righty collected his first win of the season in six innings of work.
As for Pitt, Charles LeBlanc and Ron Sherman lead the Panthers’ charge at the plate, with LeBlanc swinging at a .423 clip with 38 RBI. Sherman brings the power with 16 of his 29 hits going for extra bases, including 5 triples. Alex Kowalczyk brings the thunder for the Panthers as well, dropping 23 of his 42 total hits for extra bases, with eight sailing over the fence and a team-high 14 doubles.
The weekend rotation has been the mixture of Aaron Sandefur, T.J. Zeuch and TBA. Josh Falk took the ball in game three last weekend versus Miami (OH), working four innings while allowing five hits and four runs in a no-decision. It was Falk’s sixth start of the season. Sandefur and Zeuch anchor the rotation with Zeuch yet to take a loss at 5-0. He worked a strong eight scoreless innings in the game two win over Miami (OH) and boasts a 2.63 ERA. Sandefur has been the workhouse of the rotation, working over 55 innings with a 3.58 ERA. Yaya Chentouf anchors the closing duties with a superb 0.64 ERA in 10 appearances. The righty has yet to walk a batter in 14 innings of relief work and has allowed only one run.
Last Meeting: Then No. 1 Virginia took the series by winning the final two games after falling 1-0 in the opener. Pitt’s win marked the second year in a row the Panthers had taken a game from the top-ranked Cavaliers.
OUTLOOK: This series will be much like a playoff series with the loser slipping behind the eight ball for the final weeks of the regular season. Pitt might be the hottest team in the ACC right now and they are playing at home. However, the defending champs are coming on strong after taking 2-of-3 from the top-ranked Hurricanes. The Cavaliers rotation has been strong, but so has the Panthers lineup. A Cavaliers’ sweep would pull them into a tie with Miami at the top of the Coastal division, while a Pitt sweep would move the Panthers into a tie with Virginia at 11 wins each. If you are looking for an Omaha like atmosphere this weekend, look no further than this series.
Preview of the Week’s Other Key Matchups
Duke at No. 6 N.C. State:
The Wolfpack has been rolling its was through the ACC of late, winning its last three conference series over Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Virginia. Now N.C. State turns its focus toward the Duke Blue Devils who have been a roller coaster of a team the past month. Duke took series wins over VT, Georgia Tech and Clemson, but fell to Miami and Wake Forest leaving this series with a serious question about which team shows up this weekend.
The Blue Devils bounced back for a series win over VT after falling 3-2 in the opener with a 19-9 shellacking and a 3-1 win in the rubber match behind Brian McAfee’s eight innings of work. The right-hander should take the ball in game three. He will be joined on the bump by Kellen Urbon and Trent Swart in hopes of maintaining its position in the Coastal Division. Urbon is 5-1 with a 2.29 ERA and has issued only 13 walks in 59 innings. The Devils are in the mix with four other teams behind Miami and taking this series would certainly go along way in May.
Jimmy Herron, Zack Kone and Chris Proctor lead the Devils’ offensive surge, with all three swinging over .300. The power of the lineup comes from Jack Labosky’s 16 doubles, five homers and 34 RBI, all which lead the team.
N.C. State continues its march toward the top with the trio of Johnny Piedmonte, Brian Brown and Ryan Williamson toting the pill this weekend. Brown and Williamson have provided a solid 1-2 punch for the Wolfpack, collectively going 12-2 with a sub-three ERA.
A pair of .350 hitters tops the charts for the Wolfpack in Evan Mendoza and Josh McLain and a total of six hitters round out the .300 club. Chance Shepard sits just outside the club but makes up for it with his big stick, clubbing 11 homers while driving in 39 runs.
Last Meeting: Duke took 2-of-3 from N.C. State in 2014 in Durham.
OUTLOOK: Duke has more on the line this weekend than N.C. State, as a Wolfpack sweep would send the Blue Devils into a downward spiral in a cluster of the Coastal Division. If Duke can take one of the first two games, McAfee is the guy to close the deal for a series win.
Other ACC games this weekend include:
No. 5 Florida State travels to Clemson and Virginia Tech visits Boston College. Nonconference matchups include No. 9 Louisville entertains St. John’s, GT welcomes No. 15 Coastal Carolina and Notre Dame will battle Ohio.