With three big games on tap on Friday, the ACC Baseball Tournament bracket is beginning to come into focus. Six games have been played to this point, and there are six more left until the teams are decided for the championship game.
The first contest of the day pits No. 4 seed North Carolina State against No. 8 seed Miami. The Wolfpack devoured the Clemson Tigers 6-3 on Wednesday night, and the Hurricanes got torched 10-0 against North Carolina.
Virginia Tech (No. 6 seed) and Georgia Tech (No. 7 seed) both won their first matchups against higher-seeded teams and will face off against one another in the second game of the day on Friday.
North Carolina is the No. 1 seed, and it had no trouble dispatching No. 8 seed Miami on Thursday with a dominant 10-0 victory. The Tar Heels will take on Clemson in the final game on Friday, and after losing 6-3 to North Carolina State on Wednesday it's a do-or-die matchup for the Tigers.
Now it's time to predict winners for these three contests.
NC State (4) vs. Miami (8)
The Wolfpack won their first contest despite the fact that they only managed six hits. A huge seventh-inning outburst produced four runs—one more than Clemson was able to produce the entire game.
Pitching and game management won the game, and this is a recipe North Carolina State can use to defeat Miami on Friday.
The Hurricanes only managed four hits against red-hot Tar Heels pitcher Kent Emanuel, and unless this team can get hot bats on Friday it'll be an early exit for Miami.
Prediction: NC State will win 5-1.
Virginia Tech (6) vs. Georgia Tech (7)
The Hokies cruised past their inter-state rivals the Mountaineers on Wednesday thanks to an offensive explosion by shortstop Chad Pinder, who blasted two home runs. Virginia Tech ended up winning by the huge margin of 10-1 and received an excellent outing from starting pitcher Joe Mantiply.
Georgia Tech, on the other hand, needed a ninth-inning rally to get past the same Virginia team on Thursday, winning by a score of 4-3. First baseman A.J. Murray and shortstop Mott Hyde hit back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning to steal the victory.
It would be easy to take a look at these two results and give this upcoming game to Virginia Tech, but that's not going to happen. Georgia Tech has some big hitters who have yet to come alive in this tournament.
Prediction: Georgia Tech will win 6-4.
North Carolina (1) vs. Clemson (5)
The Tar Heels feature a dominant offense capable of putting up huge numbers on the scoreboard and a strong pitching staff capable of shutting down opposing offenses on any given day.
Emanuel dominated Miami on Thursday, and it'll be Benton Moss' turn to take the mound against the Tigers on Friday. Moss has only lost one game all year long, and his ability to create frustration with strikeouts will be a big factor in this upcoming contest.
For Clemson, this tournament is a lost cause. It'll take a minor miracle for the Tigers to stay alive against North Carolina on Friday.
Prediction: North Carolina will win 7-1.
Note: All stats obtained via the official ACC website.
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