Fresh off a series win against top-ranked Virginia over the weekend, Wake Forest returns to the baseball diamond to face off against Georgia Tech in an ACC Tournament play-in game. The Deacs earned the eight seed in the ACC on the back of a 30-25 (15-15 ACC) record, while the Yellow Jackets enter the play-in game as the nine seed at 32-24 (14-16 ACC). The winner of the game will advance to the pool play portion of the tournament beginning on Wednesday against regular season champion Miami.
The game will be perhaps the biggest one of the season for Wake Forest who needs a win to extend their season as the Deacs currently sit on the outside of the bubble picture looking in with an RPI of 68. Georgia Tech on the other hand is perched relatively comfortably in the field of 64 at 39 in the RPI and looking for a victory to ensure they will advance to the big dance.
Despite pitching in game one of a Saturday doubleheader against Virginia, the Deacs will throw senior righty Jack Fischer (4-6, 3.56 ERA) against right-hander Matthew Grimes for Georgia Tech (5-2, 3.93 ERA). Fischer has lost four of his last six outings but went 7.1 innings on Saturday against Virginia, yielding only three earned runs and six hits along with an impressive nine strikeouts. Although he has failed to get substantial run support over this span, he has boasted a 3:1 strikeout ratio over the previous five games. Fischer squared off against the Yellow Jackets earlier in the season getting the win in Atlanta while throwing a complete game, giving up only two runs.
Wake took two of three games against Georgia Tech in the opening conference series of the year and will look to continue their season with the third win of the year against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech took two of three last weekend against South Florida to conclude their season, but were swept by the Cavaliers at home despite two one-run losses in the first two games of the series.
The Deacs have had trouble getting their offense going at times and during a recent seven-game losing streak averaged just over three runs a game. The lineup will likely feature Evan Stephens and Grant Shambley at the top of the lineup, but Kevin Jordan saw time in left field over the past week and may keep Shambley out of the lineup. Stephens ranks 11th in the nation in walks on the season and has started every game of the year in center field.
Wake will likely need to win at least three of four games this week to potentially keep their season alive and sneak into the NCAA Tournament. With a win tomorrow, Wake will play Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday against Miami, Duke, and Clemson. The top team out of pool play will advance to the conference championship on Sunday at 1 P.M. against the winner of Pool B which features Florida State, Virginia, Maryland, and the winner of Tuesday's play-in game between 7th seeded North Carolina and 10th seeded North Carolina State which takes place at 11 A.M. on Tuesday.
All the games this weekend take place at NewBridge Bank Park. Tickets to the play-in game tomorrow are only $8 and the weather is projected to be beautiful. The ACC Tournament will be broadcast in its entirety on FSN for those of you unable to attend due to work (since the game is in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon). Wake has only won one game in the previous two ACC Tournaments, with the lone victory a 7-3 win in 2012 over North Carolina State.
If you're in Greensboro tomorrow don't hesitate to say hello as I'll be around pulling on the Deacs, and of course Blogger So Dear will have extensive coverage of the ACC Tournament. A preview for the eight teams in pool play will be up Wednesday regardless of the Wake's results tomorrow against the Jackets. As always, go Deacs!