Nine Teams Heading to NCAA Tournament

Once again, the Atlantic Coast Conference shows why it’s one of the better college baseball leagues in the country. Nine programs from the league were named Memorial Day Monday, when the NCAA announced the field of 64 for the baseball tournament beginning Friday. Four of the nine, postseason-winning North Carolina, Coastal Division winner Virginia Tech, Atlantic Division winner Louisville, and Miami will host a regional tournament this weekend. Florida State, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Virginia and Wake Forest will also attend the event. The league has been very consistent in coming to Omaha and playing for a national championship. At least one ACC team has made it to the College World Series in the past 15 years. Several teams have made it 10 times in that span, 28 have made it to Omaha in the past 15 years, averaging just under two a year. Here’s a look at the group of nine planning to make this trip to Nebraska.

Florida State (33-23) will make its 44th straight appearance on the field. It is the nation’s longest active streak, beginning in 1978, and is tantamount to the longest postseason streak in NCAA baseball history. They meet UCLA (38-22) at the Auburn Regional on Friday. The Seminoles will bring with them two of the best pitchers in the ACC and the country. Patrick Messik has a line of 6-5, 3.36 ERA, 93 IP, 98 SO, 24 BB, 27 ER, 81 H. Bryce Hubbart brings her with a line of 8-2, 3.18 ERA, 73 IP, 63 H, 26 ER, 94 SO and 26 ER. The entire team ERA is on 12/4. In order for the Noles to advance in this region, the offense must be found. They don’t have a hitter in the top 20 in the league. This is a pitching and defending approach, but scoring runs are a requirement.

Georgia Tech (34-22) goes to Knoxville, TN. to face Campbell on Friday. This is the 34th time the Yellow Jackets have reached the postseason. Georgia Tech will bring a .323 team batting average to the region with three players leading the way. Catcher Kevin Parada, considered by some to be a high pick for the upcoming July draft, hit .356 with 17 HR and 85 RBI. He is joined by Andrew Jenkins with .386, 17 HR, 63 RBI and Chandler Simpson with .418 BA, Hr and 21 RBI. Pitching leaves a bit to be desired with a Staff ERA of 6.54. Getting out will be crucial if the Yellow Jackets are to progress.

Louisville (38-18-1) is making his 14th appearance on the field, his 13th in 15 years with Dan McDonnell as head coach. This is the ninth time the Cardinal has hosted a regional event. Does the Cardinal have enough pitching to survive? Her team ERA is 5.29 and two guys in particular have to shoulder the load. Jared Poland 5-4, 2.92 ERA, 74 IP, 91 SO, 27 BB and Tate Kuehner 6-3, 3.77 ERA, 62 IP, 54 H, 26 ER, 59 SO and 30 BB must be good. The ACC team hit under .300 this spring, Jack Payton had a .351 BA, 4 HR and 47 RBI. They play in Southeast Missouri (37-20).

Miami (39-18) is hosting a regional tournament for the first time since 2016. The ACC program has a rich history in this tournament, dating back to the days of Ron Frazier, who ran the program. They’re another team to enter the tournament with numbers that could be seen as shaky. Team BA is .291 and two guys stand out. Jacob Burke at a .351 average with 12 HR, 56 RBI and CJ, Kayfus .369, 7 HR, 50 RBI. On the mound, Carson Palmquist was 9-4, 3.09 ERA, 78 IP, 68 H, 27 BB, 109 SO and 28 BB. Jake Garland was 6-2, 3.99 ERA, 65 IP, 72 H, 29 ER, 11 BB and 54 SO. They wield a staff that brings the tournament a 4.55 ERA. On Friday they meet Canisius (29-23).

North Carolina (38-19) is in the field for the 34th time. It will be their 12th time hosting and the 11th since 2006. The Tar Heels have the lowest batting average of the nine ACC teams in the event. They have a team average of .283, which comes with a staff ERA of 4.15. This is a team that really doesn’t have any standout players but still knows how to win baseball in late spring. They will have Hofstra on Friday (30-25).

Notre Dame (35-14) travels to the Statesboro area and on a date with Texas Tech (37-20) on Friday. The Irish make their second consecutive trip to the field and their 24th overall. ND is another ACC team built on pitching and defense. John M. Bertrand went 8-2, 2.39 ERA, 90 IP, 72 H, 24 ER, 94 SO and 19 BB. Austin Temple was 4-1, 3.19 ERA, 59 IP, 41 H, 21 ER, 78 SO and 27 BB. The Irish staff had the best team ERA in the league at 3.91, while as a team they achieved 0.298.

Virginia (38-17) is also making her second consecutive trip a regional and her 19th overall. They travel to Greenville to face Coastal Carolina (36-18-1). Both programs have something in common. Both have won the CWS since 2015. The Cavaliers’ pitchers had a 4.03 staff ERA, and the team batted with a .311 clip. At the plate, Jake Gelof has a .373 average with 17 HR and 68 RBI. Casey Saucke .356 BA, 7 HR and 44 RBI. Alex Tappen .355 BA, 13 HR and 70 RBI. On the hill, Nate Servino has a 5-6 record, 4.02 ERA, 71 IP, 73 H, 32 ER, 75 SO, and 31 BB. Brian Gursky was 7-2, 4.04 ERA, 64 IP, 63 H, 29 ER, 82 SO and 30 BB.

Before the start of the season, the coaches of the ACC got together and voted on who they thought the league’s top division teams would be. Virginia Tech (41-12) was considered a non-factor this spring. Boy, everyone got it wrong on this one. The Hokies not only became a first division team, but are also hosts of a regional league. This is the first time VT has been on site in nine years and the third time since joining the ACC. This will mark the first time that a fifth-year head coach, John Szefc, will mentor them. Overall, this is her 11th time on the field. Virginia Tech hit .308 and Jack Hurley, who led the league in batting for most of the spring, has .379 BA, 13 HR and 49 RBI. Tanner Schobel has a .373 BA, 17 HR and 68 RBI. Drue Hackenberg carries a 10-2 record, 2.83 ERA, 85 H, 80 SO, 15 BB and 27 ER. He should get the ball on Friday.

Wake Forest (40-17-1) is in the field for the 14th time. The first since 2017 when they went back to back in 2016 and 2017. They are en route to Maryland to play in that region and face UConn (46-13) on Friday. The Demon Decanos had a .319 team average, led by Tommy Hawke’s .376 BA, 2 HR and 19 RBI. Pierre Bennett hit .367 BA, 6 HR and 45 RBI. Nick Kuntz hit .356 BA, 15 HR and 54 RBI. On the mound, Brett Lowder is 11-3, 2.61 ERA, 93 IP, 81H, 27 ER, 24 BB and Teddy McGraw at 5-2 4.31 ERA, 64 IP, 49 H, 31 ER, 36 BB and 60 SO . Look for Lowder to get the call against the huskies.

There’s a look at the nine teams heading into the postseason. By the end of next Monday, we’ll know how many have qualified for next weekend’s Super Regionals.


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John Doucette

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