The 2016 ACC tournament rolls on Thursday with a slate of three games that includes the debuts of Clemson and defending national champion Virginia going head-to-head.
Unlike traditional conference baseball tournaments that feature a double-elimination format, the ACC utilizes two groups in a round-robin format that ensures teams get to play three different opponents before deciding which two teams will play for the championship.
One bad day doesn't spell doom for any team, though it does increase the pressure and intensity in the dugout to make sure everything falls into place the next game.
|2016 ACC Tournament Results—May 26|
|Game||Matchup||Result/Start Time (ET)|
|6||No. 3 Virginia vs. No. 6 Clemson||Clemson 5, Virginia 4|
|7||No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech||Florida State 6, Georgia Tech 1|
|8||No. 1 Miami vs. No. 5 North Carolina State||7 p.m.|
ACC Tournament Bracket (via Scout's Pack Pride)
Florida State def. Georgia Tech, 6-1
Florida State began its quest for a second straight ACC conference tournament title on a high note with a 6-1 victory over Georgia Tech.
The top of the Seminoles' batting order was terrific against Georgia Tech pitching on Thursday. The first five hitters in the lineup combined to 8-for-20 with five RBI and all six runs scored. John Sansone and Dylan Busby provided the power with separate two-run homers in the game.
Michael Lananna of Baseball America noted that Sansone's blast was more impressive than the actual distance would suggest:
That kind of pop is rare in college baseball, so if Florida State can channel this into games consistently heading into the spacious Ameritrade Park next month in Omaha, there will be a celebration in Tallahassee.
Three Seminoles pitchers kept Georgia Tech's offense in check. Starter Cole Sands, followed by relievers Jim Voyles and Chase Haney scattered six hits despite only combining for three strikeouts.
The Yellow Jackets didn't have any hitter record more than one hit. Their lone run came on a sacrifice fly by Kel Johnson in the bottom of the first inning.
Things will get a little easier for Georgia Tech on Friday as a matchup with North Carolina State waits. Their three games during the regular season provided plenty of offensive fireworks, with 11 combined runs being the lowest total. The Wolfpack did take two of the three games, but Georgia Tech won the final game by a 16-7 final score.
Florida State will get Friday off before a date with Miami in the winner's portion of Pool A. The two ACC powers are familiar with each other after meeting in the final series of the regular season, which the Hurricanes won two of the three games in Tallahassee.
Clemson def. Virginia, 5-4
Clemson got off to an excellent start in the ACC tournament, knocking off No. 3 seed Virginia 5-4 thanks to a sacrifice fly from Chase Pinder in the top of the ninth inning.
The Tigers broke things open in the fifth inning with three runs, highlighted by Mike Triller's two-run blast. Per Clemson Baseball on Twitter, this was just Triller's third start of the season. It's a good way to earn additional playing time.
The Cavaliers fought back from a 4-1 deficit to tie the game thanks to two runs in the sixth inning and a solo homer from Matt Thaiss in the eighth inning. Reliever Tyler Shambora started the ninth in a bad way, allowing a single to Chris Williams and walking Triller before Tommy Doyle was brought in to try getting out of it.
Virginia ace Connor Jones, who came into the game with a 2.29 ERA, was battling his control all day. He only gave up four hits but also issued four walks that led to his giving up four runs in six innings.
Clemson didn't get a great start from Charlie Barnes, who gave up six hits and three runs in 5.2 innings, but he did enough to allow the four runs his team scored to hold up for most of the game.
Even though there is still a long way to go before anything is decided in the ACC tournament, Brad Fralick of WYFF 4 pointed out this could be a huge win for the Tigers when the NCAA tournament field comes out:
This season was a struggle for Clemson in ACC play—the team posted a 16-14 record—but this victory marks its 39th of the season in a Power Five conference. It will be hard for the selection committee to overlook the Tigers' total body of work, which now includes a tournament win over the ACC's No. 3 seed.
Virginia is not in danger despite the loss. The Cavaliers are the defending national champions and understand how to fight against adversity, so this will be a blip on the radar they will learn from heading into Friday's game against Wake Forest.
Miami def. North Carolina State, 8-7
The Miami Hurricanes needed a big hit and got one from No. 9 hitter Edgar Michelangeli in the top of the ninth inning.
Michelangeli's three-run home run with one out propelled the Hurricanes to an 8-7 thrilling victory for the Hurricanes' second win in pool play. That will set up a showdown with in-state rival Florida State with a likely ACC Championship Game berth on the line.
One inning prior, it was the Wolfpack providing the drama via the long ball. With the game tied 5-5, Chance Shepard hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to give the Wolfpack a two-run lead before Michelangeli's blast.
"I'm just trying to be aggressive and put the ball in play," Miami's hero said, per the ACC's official website. "I knew he was going to come after me because obviously he's a closer, but I was just trying to put the ball in play and be aggressive."
Miami closer Bryan Garcia also recorded his 40th career save, the most in school history and is three shy of the most in ACC history.
The Hurricanes got their revenge over the Wolfpack, who defeated them a year ago in the ACC title game. After Virginia's loss earlier in the day, expect the Hurricanes to be the favorite after this thrilling win.