The ACC baseball tournament championship is set, as Maryland will encounter Georgia Tech for the title game after Saturday weeded out the pretenders.
In reality, the first game between Miami and Duke was all that mattered. The Hurricanes pulled off the win by a 6-5 margin, which sent Duke home for good. Had the Blue Devils won, they would have played for the title.
The top-ranked Hurricanes needed every bit of a 12-inning spectacle to down Duke and send the No. 9 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to the final, as Jacob Heyward hit a double in the final frame and later scored a run to put Miami ahead.
In the second game of the day, North Carolina broke open a 13-7 lead late in the contest against Maryland, a team that appeared to somewhat take its foot off the gas knowing its trip to the title game was already in hand.
ACC baseball provided a look at the highlights:
Which is fine, as the Terrapins are going to need everything they have to overcome a Georgia Tech team that has a day of rest and nothing to lose after the odds were seemingly stacked against its participating in the title game.
Day 5 Bracket Results
|12||No. 1 Miami||No. 4 Duke||Miami 6, Duke 5|
|13||No. 6 Maryland||No. 7 North Carolina||North Carolina 13, Maryland 7|
|14||No. 3 Virginia||No. 2 Florida State||TBD|
ACC Championship Breakdown
|ACC Baseball Championship Game Viewing Info|
|Sunday, May 25 at 1 p.m.||Georgia Tech vs. Maryland||ESPN2||WatchESPN||Maryland|
The ACC certainly never fails to entertain in regard to its end-of-year tournament. This feeling is surely present this year as two lower seeds get set to fight for the title, as Kenny Beck of WXII 12 News humorously illustrates:
Georgia Tech, the No. 9 seed that needed a play-in game victory to even enter pool play, is the definition of a Cinderella. The Yellow Jackets shut out Clemson 3-0 on Friday before watching their fate sealed.
Other than a debacle in the form of a 6-0 loss to Duke earlier in the tournament, the Georgia Tech pitching staff has been superb and will surely give Maryland everything it can handle, especially with no days to recuperate.
Can Maryland seize its first conference title in more than four decades? Or will Georgia Tech become the lowest seed to win the ACC tournament since 2012, when the Yellow Jackets also accomplished the feat?
It's as good as anyone's guess, but Maryland coach John Szefc seems confident in his team, which had an 11-game win streak going recently, good for the second-longest mark in the country. He spoke highly of his players before Saturday's game, via Lauren Brownlow of Fox Sports.
"With how well we have been playing in the month of May, it doesn't surprise me a whole lot," Szefc said. "These guys have played loose. They have bent but they haven't broken. Just real happy for the players."
When push comes to shove with everything on the line, the safest bet is with Szefc's club, even when taking into account Saturday's meaningless loss. The Terrapins hitters convert a frightening amount of extra-base hits, the fielding is sound and the arms on the mound can pitch with anyone.
As a Cinderella, Georgia Tech can be proud of the run. But Maryland is the one team the Yellow Jackets did not want to see in the ACC final.