The final two days of round-robin play at the 2015 ACC tournament have left teams feeling a sense of urgency as they try to make an impression on the NCAA selection committee and earn an appearance in the championship game.
Due to the size of the ACC, a total of 10 teams made the conference tournament. Two were eliminated on the first day in play-in games, bringing the field to eight. The remaining teams have been divided up in two separate pools of four, playing each other with the two winners squaring off in Sunday's title game.
The format does render much of the regular season meaningless, though it's added drama to the tournament thus far as top-seeded Louisville already has one loss in Pool A and has work to do over the next two days to keep its magical season going.
Full schedule available at TheACC.com.
|Updated 2015 ACC Tournament Schedule|
|Date||Time (ET)||Team 1||Team 2||Watch|
|Saturday, May 23||11 a.m.||Louisville||Florida State||ESPN3|
|Saturday, May 23||3 p.m.||Notre Dame||Miami||ESPN3|
|Saturday, May 23||7 p.m.||North Carolina State||Virginia||ESPN3|
|Sunday, May 24 (Championship Game)||1 p.m.||Pool A Winner||North Carolina State||ESPN2|
Friday Scores and Recap
|2015 ACC Tournament Scores—May 22|
|Matchup||Result/Start Time (ET)|
|No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Virginia||Notre Dame def. Virginia, 8-2|
|No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 8 North Carolina||North Carolina def. Clemson, 6-3|
|No. 2 Miami vs. No. 6 North Carolina State||North Carolina State def. Miami, 5-4|
North Carolina def. Clemson
It won't be enough to save them in Pool A, but the North Carolina Tar Heels can take some comfort in the fact they won't leave Durham winless after knocking off Clemson 6-3.
The Tar Heels took advantage of a sloppy Clemson defense, which had four errors lead to four unearned runs, to secure their only victory of the ACC tournament. Skye Bolt provided the big blast for North Carolina with a three-run homer in the bottom of the third.
Bolt's bomb could have been avoided, as D1Baseball.com's Aaron Fitt noted Clemson outfielder Steven Duggar missed a catch in foul territory:
Reed Rohlman had a strong game with three hits in four at-bats for North Carolina.
Clemson starter Jake Long didn't help matters with five walks in 3.2 innings before giving up Bolt's home run. That was contrasted nicely by North Carolina freshman J.B. Bukauskas, who allowed two runs with seven strikeouts in 5.2 innings.
Bukauskas had an inconsistent debut season with the Tar Heels with a 4.09 ERA, but his effort in this game has to give the coaching staff hope that the future is bright for the former 20th-round draft pick.
Trevor Kelley relieved Bukauskas and gave up just one run on a wild pitch in 3.1 innings. He also had three strikeouts and two walks.
The loss could be a backbreaker for Clemson, which was on the edges of an NCAA tournament berth with a strong finish in the regular season, according to Sean Ryan of the Sporting News:
On April 17, Clemson was 9-9 in the ACC, 20-18 overall and sitting with an RPI of 81. The Tigers used a sweep of Florida State the last weekend of the regular season to put themselves in position, and they just picked up a win over national-seed-lock Louisville in the ACC Tourney to see their RPI jump to 54. Clemson clearly is in the mix.
Clemson and North Carolina each end pool play with a 1-2 record and tied for third place. Neither has a chance to come out of Pool A, which will be decided on Saturday between Florida State (2-0) and Louisville (1-1).
Notre Dame def. Virginia
Notre Dame secured its first win of the ACC tournament, knocking off Virginia by a final score of 8-2. The Fighting Irish offense came alive after getting blanked by North Carolina State on Thursday.
The top of Notre Dame's lineup did most of the work. Leadoff man Cavan Biggio, son of baseball Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, gave the Irish some breathing room with a two-run triple in the sixth that made it 6-2.
Biggio's big hit was certainly a welcome change for the sophomore, who has really struggled over the last two months and especially against ACC pitching, per Tim Prister of Irish Illustrated:
Backing up Biggio was No. 2 hitter Kyle Fiala, who added two hits, two RBI and one run with two walks in five plate appearances.
Notre Dame doesn't have a potent offense, ranking 139th in runs scored coming into Friday, via NCAA.com, making this eight-run outburst against a solid pitching staff more impressive.
For Virginia, this loss is going to sting because it puts the Cavaliers at 0-2 in Pool B with one game left to play. The Cavaliers have made the NCAA tournament every year since 2004, but a 15-16 mark in conference play coming into today does leave them with a big mountain to climb.
Per Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Notre Dame coach Mik Aoki made a point of saying he wanted to get into the Cavaliers' bullpen early:
Virginia starter Brandon Waddell had a rough day with six runs (four earned) and five walks in six innings. The bullpen didn't provide much support, as Kevin Doherty allowed two runs to put the game out of reach for the Cavaliers.
Notre Dame's win puts it back into play for Pool B. Its toughest test will come in the final game on Saturday against No. 2 seed Miami. The Fighting Irish now have 18 wins in conference play and 36 overall. It may be enough for an NCAA tournament berth, but one more big victory over the Hurricanes could solidify a spot.
North Carolina State def. Miami
The North Carolina State Wolfpack provided arguably the biggest surprise of the day, toppling the second-seeded Miami Hurricanes 5-4.
NC State needed a pair of late-inning heroics to pull off the upset.
Miami took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. After Brock Deatherage struck out, Shane Shepard to put the tying run aboard. Wolfpack head coach Elliott Avent opted to have Jake Armstrong pinch run for Shepard to give his team a little more speed on the basepaths.
Armstrong then moved to third on a single by Logan Ratledge and scored on a fielder's choice.
It wasn't until the 12th that NC State found the breakthrough. Preston Palmeiro, son of former MLB star Rafael Palmeiro, led off the bottom half of the inning and moved his way all around the bases after a double and a throwing error by the Hurricanes.
The ACC did everybody a favor and uploaded a highlight of the play.
As Aaron Fitt of D1 Baseball felt Palmeiro got a bit lucky that he scored after being dead to rights at home plate:
The sophomore first baseman was well aware of his luck:
A big reason Miami struggled so much was the performance from the bottom half of its lineup. The Nos. 5-9 batters were a combined 3-for-23 and didn't drive in a single run.
NC State didn't get much more from its hitters lower in the order, but the Wolfpack found timely hits. Sometimes, that's all you need.
The victory was also notable for the fact that North Carolina State sealed a spot in the conference championship game. Nobody in Pool B can catch the Wolfpack after they won their first two games of the round-robin portion.