ACC Baseball Tournament Pool B Preview

With the play-in games in the books, the field has been trimmed from 10 to eight with pool play running today through Saturday. Pool B contains No. 2 Louisville, No. 3 Virginia, No. 6 Clemson and No. 10 Wake Forest. The team with the best record will advance to Sunday’s ACC Championship game against the winner of Pool A.
The Elite
There may not be a hotter team in the entire nation than Louisville and unfortunately for the other three teams in Pool B, the Cardinals own the top spot in the group. Louisville has won nine in a row, sweeping series over N.C. State and Wake Forest. The Cardinals last lost came in game two at UNC May 7.
Finding a weak spot in the Cardinals’ lineup is like searching for a needle in a haystack. They possess speed and power with the most dangerous out sitting in the leadoff spot. Corey Ray is in conversations for National Player of the Year and rightfully so with the numbers he’s produced. The junior leads the team in hits (77), home runs (14), RBI (57) and stolen bases (37). The best shot of slowing this potent Cardinals squad is limiting Ray’s damage at the plate. However, several others are able to pick up the slack when needed.
Five regular starters swing at over a .300 clip and the team owns a .325 average overall. Every member in the lineup has long ball power with none having fewer than three dingers this season.
From the hill, the Cardinals’ starting trio of Brendan McKay, Drew Harrington and Kyle Funkhouser are arguably three of the best in the nation. McKay and Harrington each own a sub-two ERA in 14 starts, combining for a 22-3 record. Funkhouser is 8-3 on the year with a 4.21 ERA and midweek starter Kade McClure is a perfect 11-0 in 72 innings of work and likely to take the ball in game one of pool play.
With the dominance of the starting rotation, it’s easy to look past the work of the bullpen and the work of closer Zack Burdi. The hard-throwing righty frequently tips the radar gun at 100+ while striking out 42 in 25 innings. Burdi has 10 saves, with nearly half coming in the final weeks of the season.
Scouting the Field
The Hoos pose the biggest threat to Louisville’s run through the pool. Virginia boasts as the only team to drop Louisville at Jim Patterson Stadium, 6-3. The Cards bounced back for the series win with an 11-4 and 15-0 win. Virginia swings at a .302 clip led by Matt Thaiss and Ernie Clement at the top of the order. However, the Hoos claim to fame comes from the bump in Adam Haseley and Connor Jones. Both possess stellar ERAs with Jones competing for National Pitcher of the Year.
Clemson does its damage at the plate and must continue this production to offset the starting rotation’s four-plus ERA.  Seth Beer and Chris Okey lead the way for the Tigers’ offense, followed by Chase Pinder rounding out the .300 club. Clemson hammers the long ball with Beer and Okey smacking 27 total dingers.
Wake Forest might be the most dangerous offense in the entire tournament after dispatching No. 7 Duke in the play-in round. While the Deacs have played stellar ball over the second half to the season, they fell to all three opposing teams in the pool, including being swept by Louisville to close the regular season. However, if the Demon Deacons pitching staff can maintain a lead, the offense has the power to get the job done. Potential MLB first-rounder Will Craig may easily be the best hitter in the nation and forces teams to work him with caution with runners on base. The Deacs’ third baseman has a great supporting cast in Gavin Sheets, Stuart Fairchild and Nate Mondou, all swinging over .300 on the year. The downfall for Wake Forest, it’s already burned starter Parker Dunshee in the play-in game.
Coaches Corner
“Blake Tiberi, our 6-hole hitter; we have Drew Ellis hitting eighth or ninth, has hit some huge home runs. I've always said that great teams are good six through nine. Everybody is good one through five. You take 75 percent of the college baseball teams in the country and you would take their one through five. But I think the great teams that, six through nine is where they hurt you. They get that one hit, that one extra at-bat. Lots of times you're one hit away from putting up a big inning or a crooked number, and a lot of times it's the guy that might not be the first guy on your radar, but the guy that you look up after the game or after a weekend and go, that guy killed us this weekend.” –Louisville Head Coach Dan McDonnell on the importance of the middle and bottom of any lineup.
“Well, Haseley has been fantastic for us. We wouldn't be where we're at right now. We wouldn't have finished third in the league without the quality of work that Adam “Haseley has done from a pitching standpoint and also offensively.  I don't know that there's anybody, many guys in the league, maybe other than McKay, that provide what he does offensively, and also is a starting pitcher and has the numbers that Adam Haseley does. The guy is really, really talented. I think he's one of the better players in the league as a whole. He's been huge for us. Certainly the game that he started for us in Game 2 of the Championship Series last year against Vanderbilt was kind of his coming out party nationally of what he can do on the mound, because he didn't pitch much for us last year.” –Virginia Skipper Brian O’Connor on the recent performance of Adam Haseley.  
“I think it's a combination of a couple of different things. I think one of the things that helped us was our guys stayed the course throughout the year. We had obviously a great start and then in the middle of the season, we struggled for a number of weeks. I think the biggest thing is our guys just stayed the course. We never got too high or too low, and we stayed confident. We kept plugging away every day. We tried to make the best of the opportunity that we had to play and find a way to win. Our guys stayed very process-oriented and goal-oriented and just kept competing. I think that's been the name of the game for us. I felt good about us going down the stretch simply because I knew that we had not lost any confidence in each other as a team.” –Clemson Manager Monte Lee. 
Projecting the Pool
1. Louisville                3-0
2. Virginia                   2-1
3. Wake Forest          1-2
4. Clemson                 0-3