ACC Baseball Roundup: March 9, 2015


McKay Saves The Day: The marquee series of the first weekend of ACC conference action was the meeting of top-25 squads Miami and Louisville in the Bluegrass State. A six-run seventh inning gave the Cardinals the opening win, while Miami jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the second game and coasted to a 9-5 equalizer in the Saturday doubleheader.

In Sunday’s rubber game, the star was Louisville freshman Brendan McKay. McKay started the game at first base, but moved to the mound in the eighth inning with the score tied, 4-4. McKay pitched two innings in relief, striking out two Hurricanes without allowing a hit. In the bottom of the ninth, McKay came to the plate with the bases loaded, and singled a 2-1 pitch to center field for the walk-off victory.

Cardinals infielder Sutton Whiting also turned in a strong weekend, hitting .525. He improved his 2015 batting average to .423, and has reached base safely in every Louisville game this season.

More Than Just A Basketball Game: While most people may have paid more attention to the events at the Dean Smith Center Saturday night, North Carolina and Duke also met on the diamond this weekend. The Tar Heels won the Friday and Saturday contests, while the Blue Devils took the Sunday win to prevent a sweep.

Pitching was the key for North Carolina in the series. In the opener, Tar Heel freshman Zac Gallen struck out 12 hitters over seven innings, allowing just four hits. On Saturday, freshman J.B. Bukauskas pitched six shutout innings, giving up four hits and striking out eight batters.

Duke had an answer to North Carolina’s pitching on Sunday, in the form of Bailey Clark. The right-handed sophomore allowed one earned run over eight innings, striking out eight Tar Heels. On offense, first baseman Justin Bellinger was 3-for-5, including a double in the third inning which drove in two runs to give the Blue Devils a 6-1 lead.

This Week: There are a couple of intriguing non-conference mid-week matchups Tuesday for ACC teams. North Carolina will travel to Conway, South Carolina to face the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. Coastal Carolina is 9-6, with wins against Georgia Tech and NC State. The two teams have met 57 times, including four times in the last 11 NCAA Tournaments. The Tar Heels have won all four of those games.

Meanwhile, Georgia Tech will host Georgia Southern. Georgia Southern, the 2014 Southern Conference champions, swept Appalachian State in their first series as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. The Eagles also swept Georgia over three games in the last weekend of February. On February 17, the Yellow Jackets defeated Georgia Southern 7-4.

The prime conference matchup next weekend is the series between NC State and Miami. The Wolfpack suffered a couple of ugly non-conference losses to Albany and Charlotte, but took two games at home from Clemson this weekend. Meanwhile, Miami needs to make a statement after losing two games to NC State last weekend and another two games to Florida in February.

Also in the ACC, there will be the Commonwealth rivalry between Virginia and Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers suffered their first loss of the season this weekend, falling 1-0 to Pittsburgh before winning the other two games of the series to improve to 12-1. The Hokies are 7-8, following two losses at Wake Forest this weekend. Due to Virginia’s troublesome weather this winter, the two teams have combined to play just one true home game this season, as the Pitt-UVa series was relocated to Cary, North Carolina.

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