clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ACC Tiered Conference Preview - Pretenders

Today we look at several teams who struggled in 2018

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-North Carolina vs Oregon State Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

College Baseball is always a struggle for the schools up North, where the weather is cold all the way into April or May but the season begins around February 15th. This geographic disadvantage makes it hard to fit in practice times, hard to play a lot of home games early in the year, and thus hard to attract premier players. For those reasons, the northern schools make up a substantial portion of this list.

Boston College

The Eagles were the worst team in the ACC last year, finishing 17-32, including 7-22 in the ACC. BC had a 5.21 team ERA in 2018 and a .234 batting average, both worst in the league. They return starter Dan Metzdorf and relievers Zach Stromberg and Sean Hughes on the mound, but lose two weekend starters in Brian Rapp and Jacob Stevens. In the field, the Eagles return CF Dante Baldelli who stole 19 bases in 2018 and IF Brian Dempsey, who led the team with a .319 average last year. The Eagles have some nice pieces and might be better in 2019, but it will be only marginal improvement.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame was better than Boston College last year, but still only posted a 24-30 record, including 12-18 in the ACC that featured losses to teams like Incarnate Word, Seattle, and Saint Joseph’s (twice!). The news in the field for the team is not good. The only middle of the order hitter that returns is Eric Gilgenbach, who hit 10 homers last year. Fortunately, the Irish return their entire weekend rotation on the mound in Cameron Junker, Scott Tully, and Tommy Sheehan. Look for pitching to be where Notre Dame hangs their hat in 2019 if the Irish are to make a move up into the middle of the ACC.

Pittsburgh

The Panthers lose a lot from a team that finished 12th in the ACC last year, but navigated through ACC Tournament pool play to the semifinals, where they lost to Louisville. Dan Hammer and Derek West look to lead a promising but unproven young pitching staff for Pittsburgh. In the field, the Panthers return Ron Washington Jr, who hit .284 last year, and three other starters. Mason Ronan and Andres Antonini will look to make an impact in their freshman seasons for first-year head coach Mike Bell, who has been an assistant at several top programs including Florida State.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech struggled mightily in 2018, going 21-33 and missing the ACC Tournament. They bring back most of the major contributors from last year (not sure if that’s a good thing), but also bring in a few impact transfers and freshmen who figure to make an immediate impact and should excite Hokie Nation about what could be coming for their program. C Luke Horanski (.314 last year) and the Owens brothers at 2B and SS should anchor the lineup, which will also get a boost from transfers Kerry Carpenter and Tanner Thomas. On the mound, Luke Scherzer and Ian Seymour should anchor a solid weekend rotation. Look for the Hokies to be an improved team in 2019.

Wake Forest

The Deacons fell off in 2018 after hosting and winning a regional on the backs of seven(!!!) different hitters with double-digit homers in 2017. Most of the 2017 team departed after that season, and the 2018 team showed its youth by going 25-32, although it did go a more respectable 13-17 in the ACC. Bobby Seymour and Jake Mueller are the leading returning hitters after hitting .303 and .286 respectively. Griffin Roberts departed for the St. Louis Cardinals on the mound, but Colin Peluse and Morgan McSweeney return to the weekend rotation. Wake Forest, of all the teams in this article, is the one most likely to reach the postseason and make some noise this year.