Miami Shuts Out UNC 2-0, Clinches Top Seed In ACC Tournament (ACC Tourney Explained)

photo credit by Richard Lewis/Miami Athletics

From tenth to first. That's the turnaround the Miami Hurricanes (40-15, 24-6 ACC) have orchestrated in a year's span, fulfilling their regular season mark as the best team in the ACC after shutting out North Carolina 2-0, Saturday. What seemed like a pipe-dream for a team that started (13-12, 5-4 ACC) through its first 25 matches, became reality.

by Brian Goins

From tenth to first. That's the turnaround the Miami Hurricanes (40-15, 24-6 ACC) have orchestrated in a year's span, fulfilling their regular season mark as the best team in the ACC after shutting out North Carolina 2-0, Saturday. What seemed like a pipe-dream for a team that started (13-12, 5-4 ACC) through its first 25 matches, became a reality.

The Hurricanes just continue to find new ways to win, pulling off their eight straight series victory, now winners of 27 of their last 30 ballgames. It's been six years, but Miami has earned the right to be crowned the No.1 seed for Tuesday's ACC Tournament -- their first top seed since the 2008 team that reached the College World Series. Prior to Saturday, only three teams had ever won 24 ACC games in a single season: Clemson in 2006, and Florida State in both 2008 and 2012. The Canes join them and are now a prime candidate to earn a highly-coveted national seed come Selection Monday on Memorial Day, May 26. But it took another stellar pitching performance and punctual scoring for this narrative to come to fruition - just like the thirty nine others before.

Freshman first baseman David Thompson - who played the entire series since his long-awaited return - came through big, producing both of Miami's runs, while redshirt junior Bryan Radziewski threw an absolute gem to keep the Hurricanes on top all game.

With their first plate appearance, the Hurricanes tagged Tar Heels righthander Zac Gallen for the opening score of game and never faltered. Senior captain -- and extra innings hero -- Tyler Palmer struck a stand-up triple to right field to give Miami their first runner in scoring position. Thompson would follow on a capitalizing, two-out RBI single up the middle to give Miami their first lead, 0-1.

On the mound, Radziewski (7-2) was in command of all his pitches this afternoon, throwing fastballs, changeups, slurves and even the occasional cutter for strikes. Through four innings, Radziewski was able to pull himself out of two potential jams in the second and fourth, as North Carolina stranded a total of three runners left on base.

On the bottom frame of the inning, Miami would plate one more run to extend the lead for good - and once again, "Davey Baseball" Thompson was the catalyst. The sophomore connected on a leadoff single to begin the inning and advanced to second on a follow-up single by freshman outfielder Willy Abreu. Both runners would move over a base on a sacrifice bunt laid down by shortstop Brandon Lopez. And a shallow sacrifice fly from Johnny Ruiz brought in the second run of the game, as Thomspon disrupted an impressive throw from centerfielder Skye Bolt to the plate. Though the throw was in time, UNC catcher Korey Dunbar couldn't hold on as Thompson's feet first slide jarred the ball out of his glove.

Radziewski finished with six scoreless innings, totaling six strikeouts on six hits and one walk, while moving up the program's all-time strikeout list, now sitting in eighth place with 318 K's. In his place, Miami's talented young bullpen held on for the remaining nine outs. In the seventh, freshman sidearmer Cooper Hammond pitched 1.2 scoreless innings through the eighth, while freshman sensation closer Bryan Garcia recorded his 15th save of the season on four outs, completing Miami's regular season as ACC Coastal Champions.

What does winning a Regular Season ACC Title mean to Miami, and how does the ACC Tourney work?

Firstly, it means Miami has earned themselves the option of determining their schedule as the No.1 seed. The Hurricanes can begin their run at the 2014 ACC Championship on either Wednesday (May 21) with Thursday off or on Thursday (May 22) with Wednesday off.

Secondly, it's a new format for this year, as 10 of the ACC's 14 teams qualify for the postseason tournament. The top six teams move directly into pool play, which begins Wednesday (May 21), while seeds 7-10 must face off in what is a one-game playoff Tuesday (May 20), allowing two winners to join the remaining top six teams in pool play.

From there, the eight teams are split into two brackets of four, with each team having to play three games against their own bracket pool in a "round robin" format. The two teams who win the most games -- one from each side of the bracket -- will move on to play in a winner-take-all championship game, Sunday (May 25).

If Miami is able to come out on top as champions next Sunday, they will not only receive an automatic bid to participate in NCAA Regionals Tournament (even if they lose, they'll be invited and hosting), but they will also lock one of eight national seeds and a chance to host a Super Regional in the Gables shall they advance.

But as noted in Wednesday's Canes Chatter: Miami expects the ACC Tournament to be a more difficult task than NCAA Regionals. No.1 Virginia, No.3 FSU and No.5 UM are about as good as it gets in any conference - and all three should come out with national seeds. So, the only question that truly remains is whether any of them will be able to end the ACC's 59-year drought of crowning an NCAA champion. Miami last won in 2001, but that was before their merger into the ACC in 2004.

Next Thursday, we'll have an in-depth look at Miami's path to Omaha, how they rank as a national seed contender, and what they'll need to do in order to put an end to the ACC's curse. But in the meantime, here's a current look at the ACC standing before conference tournament schedules are released tomorrow:

### Update: According to theACC.com, here's the list of seeds for the ACC Tournament which opens Tuesday in Greensboro, NC. Complete bracket with schedule to be announced tomorrow morning:

2014 ACC Regular Season Standing

Team

W-L

Win %

1. Miami

24-6

.800

2. Florida State*

21-9

.700

3. Virginia

22-8

.733

4. Duke

16-14

.533

5. Clemson

15-14

.517

6. Maryland

15-14

.517

7. North Carolina

15-15

.500

8. Wake Forest

15-15

.500

9. Georgia Tech

14-16

.467

10. N.C. State

13-17

.433

11. Pittsburgh

11-19

.367

12. Boston College

10-20

.333

13. Virginia Tech

9-21

.300

14. Notre Dame

9-21

.300

*ACC Atlantic Winner

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