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Mar
23
2015

ACC Baseball Weekly Roundup – March 23, 2015

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Sensational Seminoles: In an unexpected twist to the start of the ACC baseball season, the Virginia Cavaliers sit last in the Coastal Division standings with a 3-6 record in conference play. That distinction follows a 2-1 series loss at home to Florida State this weekend.

Virginia won the series opener as Cavaliers head coach Brian O’Connor served the last game of his suspension from the Virginia Tech series. UVa scored five unearned runs in the seventh inning to take an 8-4 victory in that contest, thanks to an error by Seminole shortstop Taylor Walls.

However, O’Connor’s return was not enough to keep Florida State from winning out and claiming the series. The Seminoles scored three runs on homers by Dylan Busby and Danny De La Calle in the ninth inning to claim a 12-10 victory in a Saturday slugfest. On Sunday, Florida State dominated, taking a 13-1 win. All-American DJ Stewart was 3-for-4 in the finale, with two home runs and six RBI.

Cards Dealing: Louisville improved to 8-1 in ACC play by sweeping Notre Dame in South Bend. The Cardinals benefitted from strong pitching in the series, shutting out the Irish on both Friday and Sunday to win 2-0 and 3-0 in those games. Throughout the series, starting pitchers Kyle Funkhouser, Brendan McKay, and Josh Rogers combined to strike out 26 Notre Dame batters over 21 1/3 innings.

Saturday’s contest was the most memorable of the series, since it accidentally became a doubleheader. The Cardinals and Fighting Irish played 18 innings before Louisville claimed a 6-4 victory. Louisville’s Corey Ray hit a solo home run and Will Smith singled home another run in the decisive 18th inning. Thanks to the sweep, Louisville took a one-game lead over Florida State in the Atlantic Division standings.

Going The Distance: Clemson took two wins at Blacksburg this weekend, as the Tigers defeated Virginia Tech on Friday and Saturday before the Hokies prevented a sweep with a Sunday win. The series was marked by a pair of extra-inning contests, which the teams split.

In the Friday opener, the teams completed regulation without scoring a single run. Starting pitchers Matthew Crownover and Sean Keselica combined for 16 1/3 shutout innings and 16 strikeouts in a pitcher’s duel. Clemson broke the drought in the top of the tenth, as sophomore catcher Chris Okey blasted a grand slam to give the Tigers a 4-0 win.

Virginia Tech entered the Sunday game hoping to avoid a sweep, after Clemson had defeated the Hokies 15-8 on Saturday. The Tigers opened the game with a three-run first inning, but Virginia Tech methodically erased the deficit, tying the game in the eighth inning when Erik Payne scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch from Clate Schmidt.

Rahiem Cooper was the hero for Virginia Tech in extra innings, driving home Kyle Wernicki with the bases loaded in the 12th inning for the walk-off win. While the Hokies lost the series, the win could prove valuable later in the season. Virginia Tech stayed above .500 in conference play with a 5-4 mark, while Clemson dropped to 4-5.

This Week: There are a handful of intriguing non-conference matchups this week. There will be a battle of teams that hosted NCAA Regionals in 2014, as Louisville and Indiana will meet in Bloomington on Tuesday. The Hoosiers opened the season with two wins against Stanford and holds a 6-0 record at home this season, including a sweep of Cal State Fullerton.

Also on Tuesday, Georgia Tech will host Auburn in another ACC-SEC showdown. The Tigers haven’t spent much time away from Auburn this season, losing a non-conference game in South Alabama and suffering a sweep at Texas A&M before beating UAB last Tuesday for their first road win of the season. There’s also a meeting between Georgetown and Virginia at Charlottesville, which will be a healing opportunity for two DMV fanbases that had unfortunate weekends in basketball.

The marquee conference series of the week is a battle of ranked teams, as Miami will go to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina. Both are coming off series wins, as the Hurricanes picked up two wins against Wake Forest and the Tar Heels won twice in Atlanta against Georgia Tech.  Also on the docket will be a critical series between Virginia and Notre Dame. Both teams have spent time in the polls this season, but are 3-6 in conference play and need to turn their ACC seasons around.

 



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