This Week in ACC Baseball (5/9)

 Photo Courtesy of Clemson Athletics
This Week in ACC Baseball (5/9)

ACC Weekly Recap
Pitt vs. Notre Dame: 4-2, 8-5, 0-5. Pitt wins series 2-1. Frank Maldonado roped two hits and 2 RBI in the opener and Charles Leblanc followed with a three-hit performance in game two. T.J. Zeuch earned his sixth win of the season with seven innings of work, allowing five runs on five hits with five strikeouts in the clincher. Cavan Biggio finished 2-for-3 in the finale with a double and David Hearne tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings to move to 7-1 on the year for the Irish.
Wake Forest vs. Boston College: 8-6, 8-9 (10), 3-4. Boston College wins series 2-1. Nate Mondou finished with a .667 average in 15 at bats in the series, including a 5-for-6 day at the plate with 3 RBI in game one. The Eagles’ Michael Strem added a double and triple in game two and Johnny Adams went 3-for-5 with a double and 3 RBI. Mike King fired 7 2/3 innings in the rubber match, allowing three runs while striking out five.
No. 5 Florida State vs. Bowling Green State: 6-1, 10-0, 6-1. FSU sweeps series 3-0. The Seminoles offensive attack was in full swing led by John Sansone. The senior smacked two doubles in the opener and added 3 RBI and a home run in the finale. Quincy Nieporte crushed a home run with 3 RBI in game two and Dylan Busby notched three hits with a homer in game three. Drew Carlton led the charge from the bump, tossing six shutout innings while fanning nine.
No. 9 Louisville vs. No. 25 UNC: 6-0, 2-3 (11), 10-6. Louisville wins series 2-1. In a pivotal ACC series, the Cardinals hammered out two wins over the Heels in the Derby City. Brenden McKay worked seven innings of three-hit ball in game one while striking out nine and added two hits and a RBI at the plate. Zack Burdi picked up the save in two innings of spotless relief, striking out four of his six batters faced. J.B. Bukauskas allowed only one run while striking out eight over eight innings of work for the Heels in game two to even the series. Corey Ray worked a 3-for-5 day with a double and 3 RBI and Logan Taylor went 3-for-3 with a double in the series clincher.
No. 8 NC State vs. Clemson: 5-10, 20-9, 1-2. Clemson wins series 2-1. Seth Beer and Robert Jolley each raked three hits in game one, with Beer smacking a double and 3 RBI. Josh McLain led the Wolfpack surge in game two, lacing two doubles and 4 RBI to even the series. Clemson’s Pat Krall earned his eighth win of the year with a masterful performance in the rubber match, tossing a complete game and surrendering only one run.
Virginia Tech vs. Alcorn State: 9-2, 9-4, 23-7 (7). Tech sweeps series 3-0. It was all Hokies all weekend as the offense racked up 41 runs in the three game series. Nick Anderson led the attack in game one with a double and home run while adding 5 RBI. Ryan Tufts hammered two hits in games two and three, with a homer and six total RBI in the final two contests. Sam Fragale added two doubles and a long ball with 4 RBI in the final affair.
No. 3 Miami vs. Georgia Tech: 12-2, 17-6, 14-7. Miami sweeps series 3-0. The Yellow Jackets ran into a Hurricane with Johnny Ruiz and Willie Abreu leading the blitz. Ruiz had three hit outings in the first two games and Abreu collected seven hits while launching two homers in the opener. Jacob Heyward closed out the sweep with three hits and 5 RBI with two doubles and a home run.
Standout Performers
Pitcher of the Week: Clemson’s Pat Krall moved to 8-1 after knocking off No. 4 Florida State and No. 8 N.C. State in the same week. Krall was the first Clemson pitcher to record the feat since 2000. The southpaw worked a complete-game in the win over the Wolfpack, allowing only one run while lowering his season ERA to 0.73.
Hitter of the Week: Wake Forest’s Nate Mondou went 10-for-15 with 8 RBI and scoring three times in the series with Boston College. The junior went 5-for-6 in game one with 3 RBI and two runs. It was his first five-hit game in his career. Mondou’s attack continued in game two with three more hits, a double and home run with 5 RBI.
Conference Matchup of the Week: No. 11 N.C. State at No. 7 Louisville
After suffering a shortcoming at the hands of Clemson last week, N.C. State has its work cut out this weekend in the Derby City against a Louisville team that has fallen at home only once this season. The road has not favored the Wolfpack’s case this season, sitting at an even 5-5 in ACC matchups. Coming into the weekend, the top of the Atlantic Division is becoming a logjam, with the outcome of this weekend becoming uber critical for one of the top seeds in the ACC Championship. Louisville is 16-8 in ACC play while N.C. State is 13-9 and both look up at division leader Florida State’s 14-6 mark.
With both teams ranking in the top two of the conference, the pitching staffs must bring their “A” game to the bump. Louisville sits atop the ACC with a 2.78 ERA and a league-leading 10 shutouts. The Wolfpack ranks seventh at 3.82.
State swings a mighty stick, hitting .311 as a team. Evan Mendoza and Josh McLain, who possess a .380 and .339 average respectively, lead the Wolfpack’s offensive onslaught. Seven of State’s top nine hitters sit above .300 on the season.
Not only does State swing for contact, it also hits for power with Preston Palmeiro leading the way with 18 doubles, six homers and 43 RBI. Chance Shepard leads the team with 11 long balls.
Anchoring the Wolfpack’s rotation is Brian Brown and Ryan Williamson. Each owns a 7-1 record over 12 appearances with each working 65 innings. The good news for the Cardinals is the duo is like a mirror image on the mound. The bad news is if the Cardinals struggle with one, they are likely in for a double dose of struggle. Both are in the top 10 in strikeouts this season with Williamson’s 72 Ks fourth best in the league. Success by Brown in game two could be instrumental in the outcome of this series.
One of the most difficult outs in the Cardinals lineup comes in the leadoff spot in Corey Ray. The speedster swings at a .325 clip and leads the team in doubles, home runs and RBI. He also has swiped an ACC best 35 bases this season. The biggest issue for the Wolfpack with the Cardinals’ lineup, Ray’s average is eighth best in this potent lineup with five batters swinging better than .350 on the season.
Nick Solak leads the Cardinals with a .414 average followed by Colby Fitch and Will Smith. Louisville also leads the league in doubles and RBI and is second to only Georgia Tech in home runs.
Tossing the pill for Louisville will be the trio of Drew Harrington, Brendan McKay and Kyle Funkhouser. Harrington and McKay provide a nasty one-two punch from the bump, with Harrington’s ERA at 1.73 followed by McKay’s 2.22. Not only can McKay deal from the rubber, he is a pitcher who can rake at the plate, hitting .333 with a team-high 15 doubles on the season.
If the game boils down to the bullpen, Louisville’s Zack Burdi provides a solid closing option with seven saves in 20 appearances this season. The righty worked two perfect innings in a game one win over UNC, striking out four of the six batters he faced.
Last Meeting: Cardinals took 2-of-3 in Raleigh last season with the Wolfpack’s lone win coming in game two, 3-2. Louisville took the series with 4-3 and 8-5 victories.
OUTLOOK: Playing in Louisville has not served any Cardinal opponent well this season; with Virginia collecting the lone opposition win in a 6-3 defeat on March 25th. When teams enter Jim Patterson Stadium, they are already behind the eight ball and any mistake ultimately leads to defeat. Louisville is arguably one of the top teams in the nation this season and State is no slouch, but the Cardinals feed off the energy at home, making this a no-win situation for the Wolfpack this weekend. With the free-swinging sticks and potent Cardinals’ rotation, don’t be surprised to see the brooms appear Sunday afternoon.
Preview of Week’s Other Key Matchups: Georgia Tech at No. 12 Virginia
Eager to stay among the top of the Coastal Division, Tech and Virginia square off for the rights to second place. With a little help from Pitt and a series sweep by the Hoos, a new team could be sitting in first place at the end of the weekend. Virginia is the hottest team in the ACC entering the weekend, winning its last six games, but is only 5-4 at home in conference play.
Both squads swing with a purpose, with Tech having the advantage with a .310 team average. The Yellow Jackets also lead the ACC in doubles and home runs and is second to only Louisville for most hits this season. Matt Gonzalez and Connor Justus spark the Yellow Jackets offensive attack, swinging a .380 and .362 clip, respectively. However, the production doesn’t stop there. Kel Johnson’s nine homers and Tristin English’s 17 doubles are tops for Tech’s plate production, with no member in the lineup having fewer than five doubles this season.
Unlike their stellar offensive production, the pitching rotation leaves plenty of opportunity for the opposition. Brandon Gold anchors the rotation with a 2.16 ERA but Ben Parr and Cole Pitts both have over a four ERA. Gold averages over seven Ks a game. Should the Yellow Jackets have a shot to close the game in the ninth, they have one of the best arms in the league. Matthew Gorst’s 10 saves this season is second in the league and, with an ERA of 0.63, its lights out when he takes the ball.
Virginia enters as the hottest team in the ACC in hopes of making a deep run toward defending its 2015 National Championship. Matt Thaiss and Ernie Clement pace the Hoos offense with a .366 and .346 average with the team swinging one point under .300. Both Thaiss and Clement hit with the best in the ACC with Clement’s 72 hits leading the league.
Virginia offers a potent one-two punch from the bump from Adam Haseley and Connor Jones. The duo each own a sub-two ERA with a combined 16-3 record. A solid outing by both spells disaster for Tech’s hopes of climbing ahead of Virginia in the standings.
Last Meeting: Virginia avenged a series loss from the regular season with an 11-0 seven inning win in the pool play round of the 2015 ACC Championship.
OUTLOOK: With a matchup of stellar hitting versus lights out pitching, something has to give in the pivotal series. Tech has been in its fair share of slugfests this season and will need the same firepower to dispatch Virginia. After taking two sizable lumps at the hands of Miami last weekend, Tech has its work cut out this weekend if it plans on taking a series win back to Atlanta. With Virginia’s double-barrel aces from the bump, Tech needs an ace in the hole of its own to escape a sweep.
Other ACC games this weekend include: Wake Forest travels to Blacksburg for a meeting with Virginia Tech. No. 5 Florida State tangles with Duke, Pitt visits No. 3 Miami and Notre Dame heads to North Carolina. Clemson heads out of conference for a three game series with Georgia Southern and Niagara visits the cape for two games with Boston College.