Weeks continue to pass, but the ACC standings have not become any clearer. With two weekends left in the regular season, 12 ACC teams are fighting to earn an NCAA Tournament berth and many of them are contending to win their divisions. If the last two weekends are anything like the first eight, we are in for a wild ride.
No. 16 Louisville and No. 28 Wake Forest Split Series
Due to storms in the area, the game on Friday night was postponed as the teams rescheduled to play a double header on Saturday. Rhett Lowder (W, 9-2) did not skip a beat as he was forced to move his start to Saturday morning, from his normal Friday night slot.
Lowder tossed 6 innings, giving up just two runs as Wake Forest dominated game one, 14-3. Brock Wilken had a field day at the plate, launching 3 home runs with 8 RBI to help lead the Demon Deacons offense.
The Louisville pitching staff bounced back in the second game, keeping the Wake Forest bats quiet on their way to a 6-2 victory, evening the series. Dalton Rushing and Ben Bianco both homered for the Cardinals.
In the rubber match, the Cardinals bullpen surrendered yet another lead late in the game. Leading 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th inning, the bullpen gave up a home run to Nick Kurtz, tying the game and forcing extra innings.
Neither team would score a run for the next three innings, and due to Louisville’s travel plans, the game ended in a tie.
Wake Forest finishes the season with North Carolina and North Carolina State as they are in need of wins in order to feel comfortable heading into Selection Monday.
One thing to keep an eye on for the Cardinals is the injury to Christian Knapczky, their starting shortstop and leadoff batter, who is hitting .335 on the season. Knapczyk was injured on Saturday and did not make a return this weekend.
Pittsburgh Takes Series Over Duke
One name that has been consistent in the ACC roundup is Matt Gilbertson and this week is no different. Gilbertson (W, 8-2) was dominant on the mound yet again, holding Duke to 2 runs and 5 hits over 7 innings as the Panthers dominated game one, 14-4.
Jeffrey Wehler led Pittsburgh with 4 hits and 3 RBI while Bryce Hulett pitched in with 3 hits and 3 RBI.
In game two, Billy Corcoran (W, 7-3) was just as impressive as Gilbertson, allowing 1 run (0 earned) in 6 innings of work while striking out 8 Blue Devils batters.
Duke pounded out 10 hits, but they continued to lack timely hitting, leaving 8 runners on base on their way to a 3-2 loss. In the top of the 8th inning, Duke scored their second run of the game to get within one, but failed to take advantage of a bases loaded opportunity, striking out to end the threat.
The Blue Devils would bounce back on Sunday, winning the final game of the series, 15-5.
Pittsburgh, who is looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995, has some work left to do to close out the season. They are recording one of their best seasons in recent memory, but the Panthers will have their hands full with Notre Dame and Georgia Tech to end the season.
No. 19 FSU Loses First Game, Bounces Back to Win Series Against Boston College
The Seminoles took two of three games from the Eagles in Brighton, Massachusetts this weekend to keep pace with North Carolina State for third place in the Atlantic Division.
The opening game on Friday, which had a very thin margin of error with just five total runs scored, ended in dramatic fashion. Parker Messick turned in yet another stellar performance on the mound, allowing just 2 runs in 8 innings while striking out 12 batters.
Unfortunately for Messick, the Seminoles bullpen was only able to record one out as Boston College won the game on a walk-off walk.
Joe Mancini tossed his best game of the season for the Eagles, throwing a complete game, allowing 2 runs in the 3-2 victory.
Florida State would bounce back and win the final two games by a combined score of 18-5 to claim the series. Alex Toral led the Seminoles offense with 5 hits and 5 RBI on Saturday and Sunday.
Bryce Hubbart (W, 7-1) picked up ACC Pitcher of the Week honors for the second time this season after his performance on Sunday. Hubbart allowed just 1 hit in 7 innings, and picked up 11 strikeouts along the way.
Clemson Shocks No. 25 Georgia Tech, Sweeps Yellow Jackets
Don’t look now, but Clemson has won three of their last four conference series after sweeping Georgia Tech over the weekend. Have the Tigers done enough to earn an at-large bid? At 31-17 (9-14 ACC), they have some work to do, but the opportunity lies ahead.
Clemson outscored Georgia Tech 35-14 after scoring 25 runs last weekend against Louisville. Their offense seems to be clicking on all cylinders, but the pitching staff has been up and down all season.
The most impressive thing about the Tigers offense this weekend is that Max Wagner, one of the contenders for ACC Player of the Year, was held to just 2 hits. That has to be encouraging for Monte Lee as his club moves forward.
A name to keep an eye on is Will Taylor, the Clemson freshman that tore his ACL while playing on the Tigers football team in the fall. He is one of the highest rated freshmen in the ACC and appeared in his first collegiate baseball action, starting all three games.
Taylor recorded 4 hits, playing left field and DH for Clemson.
North Carolina Takes Down North Carolina State in Raleigh
In yet another strange weekend due to the weather on the east coast, the Tar Heels won the rubber match on Sunday to knock off their rival on the road.
On Friday night, the game was not decided until the 9th inning when Mac Horvath hit a sac-fly to left field, driving in the winning run as North Carolina took the game, 8-7. The game saw numerous lead changes, 10 pitchers, and 7 errors going late into the night hours.
The game on Saturday was postponed, forcing a double header on Sunday.
Matt Willadsen (W, 3-3) was lights out for the Wolfpack, hurling a complete game, allowing just 5 hits and 1 earned run in route to a 9-2 victory. Tommy White, Josh Hood, and Jacob Cozart would all hit home runs for North Carolina State.
The second game on Sunday was very reminiscent of the game on Friday night. There were four lead changes, with North Carolina claiming a 7-6 victory after Alberto Osuna connected on a two-run home run in the top of the 8th inning, which ultimately proved to be the game winner.
With series against Duke and Wake Forest on the horizon, the Wolfpack have an opportunity to make up some ground in the Atlantic Division and help solidify their NCAA Tournament resume. If anyone can turn things around at the end of the season, it is Elliot Avent.
Virginia Tech and Miami stepped outside of conference play while Notre Dame and Virginia had the weekend off.