Ahh, postseason baseball! With the ACC tournament starting Tuesday, y'all should probably know that there is a new format to the tournament playoffs this year. If you wish to read up on it, you can look here. I've also got two more links for y'all. Here is the PDF version of the bracket, and here is the coaches teleconference. If you want to skip straight to Danny Hall, skip to 00:24:00. He talks for about six minutes. This preview will be divided up into two sections. The second part of the preview will be found here after it is put up.
Now, let's look at the teams that are in Pool A:
1 Seed - Miami (40-15, 24-6 ACC)
Miami is ready for postseason play. Having only lost two games in the month of May, da U is looking to make a run straight to the ACC Championship, and then go on to Omaha. In the first round, Miami will play three teams: the winner of the Wake Forest/Georgia Tech play-in game (Wed, May 21 3:00 PM), Clemson (Thu, May 22 7:00 PM), and Duke (Sat, May 24 11:00 AM).
Miami did not play Wake Forest during the regular season, but in their three-game series with Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes lost two games in a day-night doubleheader. The Hurricanes did not have much of a problem with Clemson or Duke, sweeping both series.
The Hurricanes' lineup shaped up well this season, with four players hitting at or above .285: senior OF Tyler Palmer, freshman OF Willie Abreu, senior OF Dale Carey, and freshman C Zack Collins. Carey and Collins were also the Canes' two biggest power threats with 6 and 8 home runs, respectively. Tyler Palmer and Dale Carey proved to be the team's best base-stealing threats, with each of them accumulating double-digit stolen bases (Palmer with 18, Carey with 14). Zack Collins was even more impressive in conference play. In his 28 conference games, the freshman batted .320/.415/.553 with 5 home runs and 28 RBI.
Miami's pitching staff was very impressive this season. Junior LHP Chris Diaz led the way for the Canes' rotation, finishing the regular season 9-0 with a 2.32 ERA, 78 strikeouts, and 33 walks, in 89.1 IP. Redshirt-junior LHP Brian Radziewski finished the regular season 7-2 with a 3.14 ERA, 96 strikeouts, and 43 walks, in 86.0 IP. Junior LHP Andrew Suarez finished the regular season 5-3 with a 3.15 ERA, 72 strikeouts, and 15 walks, in 94.1 IP. All three starters pitched with sub-3.00 ERAs in ACC play.
Closing games for the Hurricanes this season was freshman RHP Ryan Garcia. Garcia accumulated 15 saves over the course of the regular season and finished with a 1.61 ERA, 48 strikeouts, and 17 walks, in 44.2 IP. 11 of Garcia's 15 saves came in ACC play.
4 Seed - Duke (32-23, 16-14 ACC)
Duke had a very difficult month of May, having to play both Miami and Florida State. Out of both series, the Blue Devils only managed to win one game. Duke is set to play Clemson on Wed, May 21 at 11:00 AM, the winner of the Wake Forest/Georgia Tech play-in game on Thu, May 22 at 3:00 PM, and Miami on Sat, May 24 at 11:00 AM.
Like I stated earlier, Miami swept the Blue Devils earlier this season. Duke did not play Clemson, but they did play both Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. Looking at their schedule, Duke is probably hoping to play Wake Forest, as they swept them earlier in the season and were swept by Georgia Tech.
Three players stand out on the Duke offense: Jordan Betts, Andy Perez, and Chris Marconcini. Betts led the Blue Devils in batting average, hitting .317, while also adding 4 home runs and 30 RBI. Andy Perez led the Blue Devils in stolen bases with 20 in 26 attempts. Marconcini led the Blue Devils in home runs with 8 and in RBI with 45, while also stealing 7 bases.
Duke's rotation was interesting this year with four pitchers having at least 10 starts: Andrew Istler, Drew Van Orden, Trent Swart, and Michael Matuella. Andrew Istler finished the regular season 8-7 with a 2.55 ERA, 58 strikeouts, and 21 walks in 74.0 IP (10 starts, 21 appearances). Drew Van Orden finished the regular season 5-5 with a 3.56 ERA, 83 strikeouts, and 24 walks in 78.1 IP (13 starts, 14 apperances). Trent Swart finished the regular season 5-2 with a 1.49 ERA, 50 strikeouts, and 20 walks in 54.1 IP (10 starts, 10 appearances). Michael Matuella finished the regular season 1-2 with a 2.61 ERA, 65 strikeouts, and 12 walks in 51.2 IP (10 starts, 10 appearances).
5 Seed - Clemson (34-22, 15-14 ACC)
Clemson has had a good month of May, losing only three games. Clemson has only played two teams in Pool A: Miami and Wake Forest. Miami swept the Tigers, and Clemson took two of three from the Demon Deacons. Clemson is set to play Duke on Wed, May 21 at 11:00 AM, Miami on Thu, May 22 at 7:00 PM and the winner of the Wake Forest/Georgia Tech play-in game on Fri, May 23 at 3:00 PM.
Clemson had a high average-hitting, low power-hitting offense this season. Four Clemson regulars, who all started at least 50 games, hit at or above .300 this season, but nobody on the team hit more than 5 home runs. The biggest standouts in this offense are Tyler Krieger, Steve Wilkerson, and Steven Duggar. Krieger led the Tigers in batting average, hitting .340 with 2 home runs, 30 RBI, and 17 stolen bases in 22 attempts. Wilkerson led the Tigers in home runs with five, while also hitting .316 with 38 RBI, and 8 stolen bases in 9 attempts. Duggar led the Tigers in stolen bases with 25 in 27 attempts. He also hit .295 with a home run and 33 RBI.
Two pitchers really stand out for Clemson: Daniel Gossett and Matthew Crownover. Gossett finished the regular season 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA, 94 strikeouts, and 28 walks in 93.0 IP. He also added two complete-game-shutouts. Crownover finished the season 7-5 with a 2.25 ERA, 74 strikeouts, 18 walks in 88.0 IP.
8 Seed - Wake Forest (30-25, 15-15 ACC)
Wake Forest played seven games in the month of May, and lost three of them (two to NC State). They did manage, however, to take two of three from Virginia. The Demon Deacons have played every school but Miami this season. They took two of three from Georgia Tech, one of three from Clemson, and were swept by Duke.
The players that stood out offensively for Wake Forest were Grant Shambley, Evan Stephens, and Will Craig. Even though he only started 38 games, Grant Shambley hit .327 with 8 RBI and 5 stolen bases in 8 attempts. Stephens hit .296 this season with 1 home run, 15 RBI, and 10 stolen bases in 12 attempts. Will Craig led the Demon Deacons in home runs with 8, while also hitting .283 with 36 RBI.
John McLeod was the best starter for the Demon Deacons this season, going 5-2 with a 2.33 ERA, 48 strikeouts, and 28 walks in 58.0 IP. Connor Kaden finished the season 2-3 with a 3.52 ERA, 52 strikeouts, and 26 walks in 61.1 IP. Jack Fischer was the workhorse for the Demon Deacons' rotation. He finished the season 4-6 with a 3.56 ERA, 56 strikeouts, and 27 walks in 96.0 IP.
Wake Forest will play Georgia Tech in a play-in game Tue, May 20 at 3:00 PM.
9 Seed - Georgia Tech (32-24, 14-16 ACC)
Other than getting swept by No. 1 Virginia, the Yellow Jackets had a very good month of May. Georgia Tech has played everybody in Pool A except for Clemson this season. They took one of three from Wake Forest, two of three from Miami, and swept Duke.
The big names that stand out offensively for the Yellow Jackets are Daniel Spingola, Matt Gonzalez, Mott Hyde, and AJ Murray. Spingola had a season to remember. He hit .323 with 3 home runs, 34 RBI, and 15 stolen bases in 16 attempts. Oh yeah, I forgot his SEVEN TRIPLES. In spite of disappointing in terms of power, Matt Gonzalez still put together a nice season, hitting .307 with a home run, 32 RBI, and 9 stolen bases in 17 attempts. Mott Hyde hit .291 with 3 home runs, 31 RBI, and 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts. AJ Murray led the Yellow Jackets in home runs with 4 while also hitting .280 with 29 RBI and 7 stolen bases in 11 attempts.
The two starters that stood out on the Yellow Jackets' staff were Devin Stanton and Ben Parr. Stanton finished the season 5-3 with a 2.13 ERA, 53 strikeouts, and 20 walks in 67.2 IP. Parr also finished 5-3 with a 2.73 ERA, 44 strikeouts, and 17 walks in 56.0 IP. There were also two relief pitchers that stood out on the Yellow Jackets' staff: "Trusty" Dusty Isaacs and Sam Clay. In 27 appearances (46.1 IP), Clay pitched to a 3-1 record with 7 saves, a 1.55 ERA, 56 strikeouts (best on the team), and 24 walks. In 25 appearances (51.1 IP), "Trusty" Dusty pitched to a 6-5 record with 5 saves, a 2.10 ERA, 41 strikeouts, and 16 walks.
Georgia Tech will play Wake Forest in a play-in game Tue, May 20 at 3:00 PM.
How do you think Pool A works itself out? Who will represent them in the ACC Championship game?