ACC Baseball Weekly Roundup – April 8, 2015


Opening Day: While the college season has been going strong since mid-February, the Major League Baseball season opened Sunday night, with most teams playing their first games on Monday. A couple of ACC products put in strong efforts to start the season.

Miami’s Jon Jay opened the ACC’s ledger on the season, batting 2-for-4 with a double in his St. Louis Cardinals’ Opening Night contest against the Chicago Cubs. This was a painful game for me to watch with Jason Heyward also wearing a Cardinals uniform, but at least I didn’t have to wait an hour to use the bathroom.

Former Tar Heel standout Dustin Ackley homered in the Seattle Mariners’ season opener, going deep on Jered Weaver in the fifth inning of their 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (say that five times fast). It marked the second time Ackley has homered in an Opening Day contest, as he also homered in the Mariners’ 2012 opener. It also marked Ackley’s first home run since he became a father. Parson Bennett Ackley was born on February 19, while Dustin and his wife were traveling cross-country to Spring Training.

Louisville Sluggers: Three, ah-ah-ah! Halfway through the conference slate, the Louisville Cardinals now have a three-game lead over Florida State in the Atlantic Division following a sweep of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Sophomore outfielder Corey Ray earned ACC Player of the Week honors for his performance in the series, which included a grand slam. Ray added a 4-for-5 outing in the second game, including two doubles, two runs, and two stolen bases.

The Cardinals have now won 13 straight games in conference play, and 16 of their last 18 games overall. Meanwhile, Virginia fell to 6-9 in ACC play, dropping them to fifth in the Coastal Division. The Cavaliers appeared to be turning their season around following a sweep of Notre Dame, but that came to a screeching halt as they were outscored 23-5 this weekend.

Flying Like An Eagle: With Wake Forest having already won the first two games of their series against Boston College, there probably weren’t too many eyes on their Sunday finale. However, BC outfielder Chris Shaw attracted lots of attention with his performance in that game.

The junior from Lexington, Massachusetts was on fire, batting 4-for-5 with three home runs in the Eagles’ 10-7 victory over the Demon Deacons. Shaw’s grand slam in the fifth inning helped close a 6-1 deficit and sparked a come-from-behind win. Shaw also recorded a double, meaning all four of his hits in the game went for extra bases.

Rivalry Renewed: There are lots of positives to ACC expansion in baseball over the past few years, such as the introduction of teams like Louisville and Miami to spice up competition. However, the larger pool of teams has complicated schedule-making, as teams cannot face every conference opponent each season.

Last year, there wasn’t a series between NC State and North Carolina, with their only meeting coming in the ACC Tournament.  This weekend, the two rivals will meet for a proper three-game series at Boshamer Stadium to renew their feud.

The series also comes at a critical time for both teams, as NC State is coming off two losses to Florida State and North Carolina dropped two games against Clemson. The Wolfpack is 7-7 in ACC play, while the Tar Heels are 7-8. With the first three spots in the conference likely locked up by Louisville, Florida State, and Miami, both NC State and North Carolina are in a glut of six 8-7 or 7-8 teams battling for three group-play spots in the ACC Tournament.

While ten teams will qualify for the tournament, only six receive group play bids, while the seventh through tenth placed teams must face a one-day play-in round to fill out the field. This weekend could help decide which Old North State team can avoid the play-in round.

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