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2019 ACC Baseball Tournament Pool Play Preview

Miami goes to North Carolina hoping to lock up a Top 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament

Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes travel to Durham Bulls Athletic Park for the ACC Tournament as the fourth best team in the conference and the top seed of Pool D in the tournament. The ‘Canes will have two familiar opponents in their pool in the Virginia Cavaliers and North Carolina Tar Heels, two teams Miami played series against in the regular season. The Hurricanes were 4-2 combined against the two teams this year.

Heading into this week the Hurricanes remain projected to be a Top 16 seed in the country. Miami has some work to do to lock up a hosting spot, likely needing to win at least one game this week in order to be in a good spot to be announced as a regional host.

Additionally, Miami continues to move up in each Top 25 poll week after week, and they are a consensus Top 20 team after the final week of the regular season.

In addition to the team recognition in the form of the polls, four Hurricanes were recognized individually as members of All-ACC teams on Monday. Three Hurricanes made the All-ACC second team; Michael Amditis, Brian Van Belle, and Adrian Del Castillo. Del Castillo was also recognized as part of the All-ACC freshman team. In addition, Ray Gil was recognized as a member of the All-ACC third team.

Previewing Miami’s Pool in the ACC Tournament

The Hurricanes will have a lot of time to prepare to play their first game in the tournament, as Miami won’t take the field until 3 P.M. on Thursday against Virginia. If the ‘Canes made a run through the tournament they would have to play four days in a row in order to win the championship. However, the entire pitching staff will have a lengthy time to rest before playing on Thursday afternoon. Pool D will represent a challenge for the Hurricanes with two familiar opponents in Virginia and UNC, each team has a knowledge of the ‘Canes strengths and weaknesses, and each team has a lot at stake heading into this week.

Virginia Cavaliers

Miami swept UVA on the road in the middle of April as the Hurricanes continued to improve their level of play heading down the stretch. After that weekend the Cavaliers seemed to be heading towards a sad end to a disappointing season, but instead UVA responded by raising their level of play substantially in the last few weeks.

Since April 15th, the day after Miami completed the sweep of the Cavaliers, UVA has split their series with Florida State, won their series against No.9 Louisville, and won their series against Virginia Tech to finish the season at 32-22 (14-16 ACC). All of the sudden, with a solid performance in Durham, Virginia could find itself in the NCAA Tournament powered by this recent run of good play.

The Hurricanes will hope to control a surging Virginia team with a pitching staff that’s returned to health. In the regular season Miami swept using the dominance of their pitchers, allowing just two runs over the last two games of the series. With Chris McMahon and Evan McKendry back from injury, Coach Gino DiMare has several options to go to in order to give his team the best chance to win.

All-ACC first team and All-ACC freshman team member Nic Kent will be someone to keep an eye on this game. Kent reached base in all three games against Miami earlier in the season, and he’s tied for the team lead in RBIs, he’s simply one of the best second basemen in the country. Virginia’s other middle-infielder, Tanner Morris, was also their only other member of an All-ACC team, coming in as a member of the third team. The two of them combine for quite possibly the best middle infield in the ACC, and they’ll hope to power the Cavaliers through the pool play round of the ACC Tournament and into semifinal play Saturday.

The Cavaliers will know exactly what they need to do when they take the field on Thursday, as they’ll have already played against North Carolina on Wednesday night. UVA has to play well to ensure they earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament, and Miami has to play a clean game and match the intensity of the Cavaliers on Thursday.

Game Info

Date & Time: Thursday, May 23, 3:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Not announced

Virginia Starter: Not announced

Radio: 790 The Ticket

Television: Regional Sports Networks / ACC Network Extra

No.23 North Carolina Tar Heels

While Virginia fights to make it into the NCAA Tournament, North Carolina finds itself hoping to make a late push for a spot as a host. Unfortunately for UNC, a series loss to N.C. State last weekend damaged their chances at a Top 16 seed significantly, and meant they dropped to the fifth seed in the ACC Tournament. However, a strong run this week in Durham could see them put themselves right back in the conversation for having a Chapel Hill regional.

Miami and North Carolina faced off all the way back in mid-March in the second week of ACC conference play. At the time the Tar Heels had just suffered a sweep from the Clemson Tigers, but recovered nicely with a series win over a Miami team that was in the midst of its’ worst stretch of the season at the time. Since the two teams parted ways their trajectories have been remarkably similar, and at the end of the year both Miami and UNC finished at 38-17, with the Hurricanes just one game ahead of the Tar Heels in conference play.

UNC is an incredibly talented team, with ACC Freshman of the Year Aaron Sabato leading the charge for the Tar Heels. Sabato’s incredible season saw him narrowly beat out Miami’s own Adrian Del Castillo to win the honor. Three other Tar Heels were recognized by the conference, with star first baseman Michael Busch joining Sabato on the first team, starting pitcher Tyler Baum earning third team recognition, and Danny Serretti being named to the freshman team along with Sabato.

Michael Busch is undoubtedly the player to watch out for when these two teams face each other on Friday. He was dominant against Miami in the regular season series, going six for twelve with five RBIs and a home run over that weekend. He’s one of the best player’s in the conference and the country, and Miami’s pitchers will have to shut him down to help the ‘Canes win on Friday.

Ultimately, this game could have significant implications not only on who moves on to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, but also in who hosts in the NCAA Tournament. Right now, North Carolina sits on the outside of the Top 16 looking in, but a statement win over Miami and a run in Durham could significantly improve their resume. Miami will have to find a way to win come Friday afternoon to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Game Info

Date & Time: Friday, May 24, 3:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Not announced

North Carolina Starter: Not announced

Radio: 790 The Ticket

Television: Regional Sports Networks / ACC Network Extra

The winner of Pool D will go on to play the winner of Pool A in a semifinal match up Saturday. Pool A includes No.9 Louisville, Clemson, and Boston College. Pool A begins play with Boston College vs Clemson on Tuesday at 11 A.M. Eastern, the first game of the entire tournament. Louisville will then face Boston College on Wednesday and Clemson on Thursday, both games are at 11 A.M. Eastern. As the week goes on potential scenarios and outcomes will become clearer for Miami’s path through the tournament, and we’ll have continuing coverage of the ACC Tournament throughout the week.