There will be no shortage of firepower at Newbridge Bank Park this week.
With three teams ranked in Baseball America's national top six, arguably the best major league prospect in Carlos Rodon possibly fighting to keep his collegiate career alive and several more potential first-round picks in June's draft on display, the ACC tournament makes for one of the most compelling tourneys across the country over the next couple of days.
Tuesday provided a preview of all that, with two ever-enthralling elimination games on the docket: North Carolina against North Carolina State in their Tobacco Road rivalry for a spot in Pool B, and Georgia Tech battling Wake Forest to join Miami, Duke and Clemson in Pool A.
Let's take a look at how the action unfolded, along with what's in store for Wednesday at Greensboro.
Day 1 Scores
|1||North Carolina vs. NC State||North Carolina, 4-3|
|2||Wake Forest vs. Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech, 5-3|
Day 1 Breakdown
North Carolina 4, North Carolina State 3
Early offense and clutch pitching propelled North Carolina in the tournament opener, as the Tar Heels squeezed by rivals North Carolina State with an 4-3 victory.
Zach Rice recorded the win, setting up a Wednesday matchup with Florida State, while Eric Peterson took the loss.
After Brett Austin drove home Trea Turner, who led the game off with a triple, to get the scoring started for the Wolfpack in the first, Carolina quickly bounced back.
Skye Bolt hit a towering solo shot, Wood Myers delivered a two-run single and Bolt followed up with a sac fly, giving the Heels a 4-1 lead and driving starter Peterson from the game in the third inning.
The rest of the game would be defined by a slew of golden opportunities for North Carolina State at the plate.
Elliott Avent's squad took advantage of the first opportunity with two runs in the top of the fourth on a single by Bubby Riley, forcing Zach Rice to come on in relief for Reilly Hovis with the bases loaded and just one out.
Rice got out of the jam with two clutch strikeouts to keep the Heels in front by a run, but in the fifth, he re-loaded the bases with zero outs. That brought on Trevor Kelley from the bullpen, and after a foul popup for the first out, controversy ensued.
On a strikeout to the next hitter, Turner attempted to catch the Tar Heels off-guard and steal home. He was called out to end the inning, but as CBS Sports' Will Brinson showed, that appeared to be a poor call:
Former basketball star Julius Hodge summed up the feelings of most Wolfpack fans at that point:
Basketball refs, baseball umps, football zebras, etc... whenever we are about to beat UNC they all summon their inner "blue" smh! #ACCBase— Julius Hodge (@Follow24Hodge) May 20, 2014
NC State couldn't recover, stranding runners in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings before sophomore Trent Thornton slammed the door closed with a one-two-three ninth inning.
The Wolfpack now must sit, wait and hope they did enough to get into the NCAA tournament, but as Fox Sports' Lauren Brownlow noted, that's an unlikely scenario:
UNC wins, and NC State’s season ends. Too bad that’s the last we’ll see of Rodon and Turner, but both have bright futures. #analysis— Lauren Brownlow (@lebrownlow) May 20, 2014
UNC, on the other hand, now has three more games to keep its season alive.
Georgia Tech 5, Wake Forest 3
The Yellow Jackets had to feel pretty safe entering Greensboro, but a loss against Wake Forest in Tuesday's elimination game would have made for an unnecessarily nerve-wracking week.
Danny Hall's team made sure that didn't happen, though, using a 3-for-4 day from Daniel Spingola to coast past Wake Forest with a 5-3 victory to book a spot in Pool A.
All of Georgia Tech's damage came during what looked to be a harmless second inning. With two outs and no one on base, Mitch Earnest slugged a double, and Spingola and Mott Hyde followed up with back-to-back triples during a relentless hit barrage.
When the damage was finally done, the Yellow Jackets had a 5-0 lead.
Wake Forest responded with one in the third and two more in the fifth, but the Demon Decons wouldn't get any closer, as flashy double-plays from GT ended rallies in both the seventh and eighth innings.
The Yellow Jackets start off play in a tough Pool A with Miami, one of the best squads in the country, but no matter what happens, they can feel safe about their NCAA tourney prospects after Tuesday's win.
The teams remain in pool play, where they will play every other team in their group through Saturday. The winner of each pool will meet in the final on Sunday. Here's a look at the updated pools with Tuesday's play-in winners:
|A||Miami, Duke, Clemson, Georgia Tech|
|B||Florida State, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina|
You can find the entire bracket and schedule of play here.
Day 2 Schedule
|3||11 a.m.||Duke vs. Clemson||ESPN3|
|4||3 p.m.||Miami vs. Georgia Tech||ESPN3|
|5||7 p.m.||Florida State vs. North Carolina||ESPN3|