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Around the ACC: Weekend #2

Photo Credit: Nate Skvoretz/The Daily Tar Heel


By Micah Beutell


After a very eventful and successful weekend for the ACC, we are left wondering if they can do it again. Some games feel like must-,wins more than others and some teams look to build off their hot starts. This weekend proves to be a big one for the conference's RPI. Without further ado, let us jump right into it, in order from last to first in our power rankings.



St. Bonaventure at Louisville

Louisville has started the season 0-3, losing all three games to teams who made the 2023 NCAA Tournament. This Cardinal ball club NEEDS this weekend to right the ship and get some positive momentum in their favor. The bats for Louisville have struggled to start the season. JT Benson is the only Card to be hitting above .300, with most of the lineup sitting at the low to mid .200.


Logan Beard and Eddie King Jr. are two guys who really need to get things going, as they are both hitting .111 to start the year. Another crazy stat is Louisville has yet to hit a homerun this season, which makes them the only team in the ACC not to have done so. Expect Louisville to be aggressive early and hopefully string together some good at-bats.


St. Bonaventure, on the other hand, has started the season 1-2 after a season opening series in Charleston, SC, at The Citadel. The Bonnies had an offensive explosion in Game two of the series, topping The Citadel 22-10. Pitching has been a problem for the Bonnies, as they have allowed 8 runs or more in all three games this season. Jack Putney and David Marshall Jr. have anchored this lineup so far, each hitting above .530. With an explosive infield offensively, expect the Bonnies to try and get into a shootout with this struggling Louisville offense.


Prediction: Louisville sweeps



Rhode Island @ Virginia Tech


Virginia Tech had an amazing first two ga,mes to start the season, just to lose their last two. The Hokies battled back from a 6-1 deficit on Wednesday night at James Madison, just to get walked off 8-7 in the 9th. Henry Cooke has been very impressive for the Hokies to start the season, leading them in BA, OBP, and SLG. I am excited to get to watch Brett Renfrow build off his start last weekend, when he went five innings with seven strikeouts and no runs allowed. Expect the Hokies to be excited to return home for the first time this season and to put on another explosive weekend offensively.


Rhode Island is entering this weekend 1-2, after losing the last two of their weekend series at UT-Rio Grande Valley. The Rams have struggled offensively, only putting together eight runs so far this season. Pitching hasn't been much better, as they have allowed 28 runs in their last two outings. This Rhode Island team can be dangerous and has a very talented sophomore two-way player in Connor Grotyohann, who leads the teams in IP with 5. Expect the Rams to come in motivated and looking for an upset or two.


Prediction: Virginia Tech sweeps



Notre Dame at Florida International (FIU)


The Irish completed an impressive sweep in Houston this past weekend at Rice. They showed their ability to win in different ways, flexing both sides of the ball. Centerfielder TJ Williams has been impressive to start the season, hitting .667 and leading the team in hits with four. Caden Spivey and Radek Birkholz have looked great so far on the mound for the Irish, and I expect to see them provide more than three innings of work this weekend.


The Panthers are amped to host Notre Dame this weekend. As someone who has friends who work there, I have heard a lot about the buzz around that program to welcome the Irish for a weekend series. FIU is 3-1 after a weekend sweep of Long Island and dropping their midweek at Bethune-Cookman. Watch out for 3B Brylan West, who is hitting .813 and slugging 1.500. He has 13 hits (3 2B, 1 3B, and 2 HR) in four games so far. If the Panthers hope to win this series, they will need to continue to swing the hot bat. Pitcher Logan Runde looked impressive in his outing, going four innings and allowing only one hit and no runs. Expect this Panther ball club to be a tough out for the Irish.


Prediction: Notre Dame takes 2 out of 3



#18 NC State at Hawaii


NC State looks to enjoy winning in paradise as they head to beautiful Hawaii for a three-game set. This series will not be streamed, so thankfully I will not be fighting sleep to stay up for these midnight starts. NC State was tested last weekend in their opening series with VCU, and I expect the Pack to be more focused on this gritty Hawaii ball club. Look for Jacob Cozart to continue his good start to the season, and for Eli Serrano to get things going offensively. Pitcher Sam Highfill had a fantastic outing on opening day, and I look forward to seeing him build off that this weekend.


Hawaii is no easy team to face, just ask Ole Miss. The Rainbow Warriors split a four game series with Ole Miss and are looking to get a series victory this weekend over a Power 5 opponent. SS Elijah Ickes leads this Hawaii offense, hitting .556 with six runs scored. Danny Veloz turned in a great outing for the Rainbow Warriors against Ole Miss, going four innings and allowing only one hit and no runs.


Prediction: NC State takes 2 out of 3



Boston College @ UT-Arlington


Boston College had a successful first weekend to start the Todd Interdonato tenure. The Eagles beat Ohio State and Cal, while dropping a close game to #20 Kansas State in the MLB Desert Invitational. John Collins, Nick Wang, and Parker Landwehr are all hitting .400 plus to start the 2024 season, and look for them to continue their success this weekend. Tyler Mudd was phenomenal against Ohio State, going five innings allowing ZERO runs and hits.


UT-Arlington has already played five games, starting the season 2-3. The Mavericks split their four game series with UTSA and were routed by Texas Tech 13-1 on Tuesday. This WAC foe has struggled offensively since opening day, only scoring nine runs in their last four games. Caylon Dygert is a name to know, as the freshman went eight innings last Saturday against UTSA, allowing only one unearned run in the loss.


Prediction: Boston College sweeps


Pitt vs Washington (Fri), Maryland (Sat), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Sun & Mon) in Corpus Christi, TX


Pitt is getting the opportunity to play three games at What-A-Burger Field this weekend. I am not going to lie, I am craving What-A-Burger as I write this in East Tennessee. The Panthers were very impressive in Port Charlotte last weekend, sweeping a scrappy Maine team. Jayden Melendez and CJ Funk had great opening weekends offensively and are looking to continue you that this weekend. Pitt pitching has looked really good in their last two games and will need to continue that in a challenging weekend.


This three team/four game weekend will really test this Pitt team. Washington & Maryland both were tournament teams last season. The Huskies are not off to a great start after going 0-2-1 in a three game set at Long Beach State. The third game had to be called in extras due to the Huskies needing to catch their flight home to Seattle.


Pitching for Washington has been good with Isaac Yeager, Calvin Kirchoff, and Spencer Dessart all going five innings and only allowing one earned run or fewer. The Terps are 3-1 to start the year taking 2 of 3 at Georgia Southern and winning their midweek 14-3 over Mount St. Mary's. 1B Eddie Hacopian and RF Jacob Orr have gotten off to great starts offensively each hitting .455 or above.


The Islanders of TAMUCC have played the most games of any team in the sport entering Friday. The Islanders have wins against Texas Southern and CMU (2x) and lost to Stephen F. Austin (2x) and Kansas. SS Isaac Webb leads TAMUCC in plate appearances and average (minimum 4 AB). Expect them to try and protect their home turf, as this ballclub is clearly trying to challenge themselves as they will have played 8 games in 10 days to open the 2024 season.


Prediction: Pitt goes 2-1 losing to Maryland.



Florida State vs Western Carolina


FSU has looked great to start the 2024 season. Now 3-0 with a sweep of Butler and midweek win at Jacksonville, the Noles are looking to extend their winning streak. Six different Seminoles are hitting .400 plus (minimum 5 plate apperances) and the Noles have been great offensively. Anchored with ACC Pitcher of the Week Cam Leiter and Jaime Arnold looking impressive, as well. So far, all has been well in Tallahassee. As I talked about on our recap podcast, Link Jarrett with talent is very dangerous. A scrappy WCU team comes to down excited to try and pull an upset.


Western Carolina (WCU) comes into this one 3-1 with a sweep of Iona and a midweek loss to Big South preseason favorite USC-Upstate. The Catamounts are a scrappy Socon team who is known for challenging themselves in the non-conference. This WCU infield is talented and will be an upgrade in difficulty from the Butler offense this FSU team saw last weekend. Dante Visconti has been great so far out of this WCU bullpen and we can expect to possibly see him a few times this weekend.


Prediction: FSU sweeps



Georgia Tech vs Cornell


Georgia Tech has been a very pleasant surprise to start the 2024. The Yellow Jackets are 4-0 with a sweep of Radford and midweek win at Georgia Southern. After an offensive explosion on Opening Day this Georgia Tech team has continued to hit at a high rate. Transfers SS Payton Green and LF Trey Younger have been huge additions for Georgia Tech so far this season. Both are hitting above .435 and have driven in 7 runs each. Carson Ballard has been great out of the pen going 4 innings with zero runs and zero hits while recording a save.


Cornell has yet to play a game this season as the Ivy League waits a week to get the season started. The Big Red are predicted 6th out of 8 teams in the preseason polls. Cornell has struggled as they have finished below .500 in Ivy League play 10 straight seasons. The returning starters include catcher Nathan Waugh, who hit .330 and only committed two errors behind home plate all season. The Big Red return all three weekend starters from last year, so this will prove to be an experienced staff entering the weekend.


Prediction: Georgia Tech sweeps



Miami vs LIU


Miami had a great opening weekend, but dropped their game with UCF on Wednesday 4-3. Miami failed to score after the third inning in that one and saw a three-run top of the 4th for UCF prove the difference. Transfer Lucas Costello has looked great to start his Miami career on both sides of the ball. The Canes need Blake Cyr to get going has as many strikeouts as hits (3) to start the year. Herick Hernandez looked fantastic in his Miami debut going 6 innings allowing no hits or runs while striking out 10. Friday night starter Gage Ziel got roughed up in his season debut, so expect a bounce back performance from him.


LIU opened the season getting swept by FIU. To be honest this Sharks team is in the building process as it is still new to the Division 1 ranks. The Sharks allowed 45 runs in the three game series that also occurred in South Florida. The one bright spot, was LF Jake Mastillo who hit two home runs and has drove in 8 of the Sharks 15 runs. Miami will be able to overpower this team, but expect LIU to be relentless all weekend as they continue to take strides towards building a NEC contender.


Prediction: Miami sweeps



UNC--ECU (Friday at Chapel Hill, Saturday at Fayetteville, Sunday in Greenville)


This is the biggest series in the ACC this weekend. A fun little home, away, neutral split, provides a great opportunity to spring board this Tar Heels ballclub into a regional hosting conversation. UNC is 4-0 after sweeping Wagner and winning a tight one with Elon on Tuesday. The Tar Heels are hitting the cover of the ball driving in 54 runs through the first four games. If Vance Honeycutt gets going this Tar Heels team could sweep this series if they continue to hit the way they have. Dalton Pence has been great out of the bullpen for UNC and freshman Folger Boaz shined in his collegiate debut. If he can do that again this weekend, ECU is in trouble.


ECU is a Top-20 team for a reason. The Pirates are 3-1 after sweeping Rider and dropping a battle with #22 Campbell on Tuesday. Cam Clonch and Jacob Jenkins-Cowart continue to impressive offensively. This ECU rotation was lights out against Rider allowing only one run all weekend. Trey Yesavage is an incredible talent who will be incredibly tough to have success against. Expect ECU to be hungry and ready for war this weekend.


Prediction: ECU takes 2 of 3



#13 Virginia vs Wichita State (Fri), #15 Iowa (Sat), and #21 Auburn (Sun) in Jacksonville, FL


The sky is falling for Virginia.... I am totally kidding as my bias (I am a Virginia fan) kicked in on our podcast recapping opening weekend. UVa struggled to pitch against Hofstra, but bounced back Wednesday with a shutout of Old Dominon. Virginia is off to a hot start offensively, scoring 50 runs so far this season. The Hoos have seen CF Bobby Whalen, DH Henry Ford, and LF Harrison Didawick really step up. SS Griff O'Ferrall has hit a new level to his game that makes him one of the best shortstops in the country. If Ethan Anderson can get going this weekend, watch out for this Virginia team. The biggest question mark for this UVa team is the struggles they opening weekend from their starters. Their ace Jack O' Connor and converted closer Jay Woolfolk had tough outings to open the 2024 season. The Hoos will need them both to step up this weekend in order for Virginia to have a winning weekend.


The JAX College Baseball Classic is a very talented field of four teams. Wichita State is probably the least touted team in the field. The Shockers are 2-1 after their opening series with Little Rock. WSU scored 32 runs in the first two games and look to continue that this weekend in Jacksonville. #15 Iowa is by far the most interesting opponent Virginia will face in this field. Iowa drawing Auburn in the first game worked out for UVa, as Brody Brecht will get the start vs the Tigers. Iowa dropped a game to Lehigh that has a lot of folks including myself questioning this ballclub. Marcus Morgan who is getting the start against UVa had the most impressive outing on opening weekend for the Hawkeyes going 5.2 innings allowing 2 hits and no runs. Auburn provides a real challenge for Virginia, as they close out the weekend for the Hoos. Carson Myers will get the start Sunday who went 6 innings allowing no runs on only 2 hits against Eastern Kentucky. This Auburn team is dangerous and will provide a lot of headaches to this Virginia pitching staff that has yet to name a Sunday starter.


Prediction: Virginia drops 2 of 3 (winning the Wichita State game)


#1 Wake Forest vs Dayton


My goodness did this go from nothing into something of a big weekend for Wake Forest. The Deacs have struggled to hit, as they have tallied less than 5 hits in all but the Akron game last Sunday. Wake saw UNC-Greensboro upset them in the midweek where Wake recorded only 4 hits. We know we can expect great pitching from this team, but the bats really need to come to life. Nick Kurtz has gotten off to a slow start, but I do not expect that to continue much longer. If him and Seaver King can get going, all will be right in Winston-Salem once again.


Enter Dayton, a very dangerous team who just upset #11 Vanderbilt in the midweek. The Flyers rallied from down 5-1 with seven runs in the 8th inning. This Flyers' offense is anchored by outfielders Paxton Tomaini and Alejandro Cazorla. They also have a good closer in Nick Wissman who already has two saves on the year. This Flyers group knows they can beat this Wake Forest team and I expect them to be able and get one if the trends of these two teams continue.


Prediction: Wake takes 2 of 3


#12 Clemson vs Kennesaw State


Clemson is off to a 4-0 start and playing really good baseball. Clemson swept Xavier and took down an underrated Presbyterian team in the midweek. The Tigers have yet to sweat out a game and I honestly think they can continue their dominance this weekend. Eight Tigers have slugging percentages over 500 and Cam Cannarella continues to be great at baseball logging 10 hits already this season. Billy Barlow struggled for Clemson in his outing against Xavier, but I believe he rights this ship this weekend against the Owls.


Kennesaw State got off to a rough start to the season starting 1-3 before winning Wednesday at Wofford. Dropping the opening series at UAB was quite shocking, as expectations for UAB were low entering the 2024 season. The Owls have struggled offensively this season with all but one game resulted in more than 5 runs. I believe this KSU team will struggle to hit this talented Clemson staff and I do not expect them to keep Clemson quiet on the other side of the ball.


Prediction: Clemson sweeps


#10 Duke vs Northwestern


Dare I say there is an argument that Duke is the best team in the country so far? That might be a bit dramatic, but Duke has looked incredible to start the 2024 season. They can winning a bunch of different ways and their pitching is elite. Duke has gotten contribution from almost everyone in their everyday lineup. Transfer additions Logan Bravo, Wallace Clark, and Zac Morris have played major roles in elevating this Duke offense. Pitching for the Blue Devils has been exactly what we thought they were: ELITE. This staff from the starters to the bullpen just get people out. I have been really impressed with Charlie Beilenson who already has 3 saves on the year.


Northwestern struggled with a mediocre Tulane team to open the 2024 season. The Wildcats saw a potential series win disappear Sunday after seeing a 5-0 lead in the 4th disappear. A bright spot for this Northwestern team has been closer Garrett Shearer who has pitched 3 innings and allowed only one hit while recording five strikeouts. Tyler Ganus has been the best bat so far in this Wildcats lineup driving in 4 runs on 5 hits.


Prediction: Duke sweeps


*****

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