The penultimate day of round-robin action at the 2016 ACC Baseball Tournament will set stage for Sunday's championship game.
Friday's key matchup features Louisville against Clemson. Both teams won their opening game in Pool B, so the winner will move to 2-0 with just one game left to play Saturday. Barring something unusual happening Saturday, the game will essentially be a championship play-in game.
Wake Forest vs. Virginia in Pool B is the other game with title implications, though again it will depend a lot on what happens Saturday. North Carolina State and Georgia Tech are merely playing each other for third place, as the winner of Saturday's Florida State vs. Miami game will represent Pool A on Sunday.
Here's a look at Friday's results from North Carolina and what they mean for the rest of the weekend.
|2016 ACC Tournament Results - May 27|
|Game||Matchup||Result/Start Time (ET)|
|9||No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 6 Clemson||Clemson 5, Louisville 3|
|10||No. 3 Virginia vs. No. 10 Wake Forest||Wake Forest 10, Virginia 9|
|11||No. 5 N.C. State vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech||7 p.m.|
ACC Tournament Bracket (via Pack Pride)
Wake Forest def. Virginia, 10-9
Wake Forest threw a monkey wrench into Virginia's ACC title hopes, holding off a ninth-inning rally from the defending national champions for a 10-9 win.
The Cavaliers can no longer play in Sunday's championship game after losing their first two conference tournament games. Clemson controls its own destiny after defeating Louisville in the opening game on Friday.
The Demon Deacons, who entered the ACC tournament as the lowest-remaining seed at No. 10 overall, stunned Virginia with seven combined runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
In Wake Forest's 10-run outburst, the offense hit five home runs. Nate Mondou got things started with a solo shot in the bottom of the first, prompting a perfect response from Aaron Fitt of D1Baseball.com:
Joey Rodriguez, Will Craig, Kevin Conway and Johnny Aiello got in one the home-run barrage for Wake Forest.
Rodriguez's blast may have been the most impressive of the bunch, with Patrick Ronan of the ACC Digital Network showing where the ball landed:
This is an incredible win for the Demon Deacons, who came into play with a 13-17 conference record, as they seek to build some momentum with the hopes of stealing an NCAA tournament bid. They still need some breaks with a win tomorrow and a Virginia victory over Louisville.
The Cavaliers are undoubtedly going to be upset about their start to the tournament, but this is not a disheartening defeat. They are safely in the NCAA tournament with a 36-20 overall record.
Last year, Virginia went 0-3 in pool play at the ACC tournament and things turned out okay with the school's first baseball title. Head coach Brian O'Connor has been with the team for 13 years and understands not to get too high or too low based on results in a conference tournament.
Clemson def. Louisville, 5-3
Clemson got a huge come-from-behind victory against Louisville to run its record in the ACC tournament to 2-0. The Tigers scored four runs from the fifth inning through the seventh, which provided the difference in their victory.
If Louisville ends up missing out on the ACC title game, this will be the loss the team looks back on. The Cardinals essentially gave Clemson one of its two runs in the fifth inning. Reed Rohlman led off the inning with a solo homer, which seemed to be the undoing for Louisville starter Brendan McKay.
K.J. Bryant followed Rohlman's homer with a single. After Jordan Greene sacrificed Bryant to second, Chase Pinder and Eli White walked, before Seth Beer was hit by a pitch to allow the tying run to score.
Rohlman broke the tie in the sixth inning with his second blast of the day, which J.J. Cooper of Baseball America noted was proof you can't predict baseball:
A home run off the bat of Beer in the bottom of the seventh would put Clemson up 5-3 and essentially end Louisville's hopes for a victory.
After some early struggles, Clemson starter Clate Schmidt found a groove after the Tigers offense came to life. He struck out six and allowed three runs on eight hits in 8.2 innings before giving way to Pat Krall for a one-out save.
The Tigers are playing their best baseball at the right time. Their win gives them 14 victories in the last 18 games. One more win Saturday against Wake Forest—the lowest-seeded team still in the tournament (No. 10)—will secure their spot in the ACC title game.
Louisville will need to beat Virginia and have Wake Forest beat Clemson to force a three-way tie in Pool B, which would put the Cardinals in the title game by virtue of having the best conference record (22-8) among the three teams during the regular season.