Fresh off the first midweek loss of the year, the No. 17 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (28-11, 12-6) must regroup quickly as they head down to take on the No. 3 Clemson Tigers (31-7, 14-4).
Wake Forest lost to Charlotte 6-1 on Tuesday night in Winston-Salem snapping a 13 game midweek winning streak.
The Tigers won its first five series of the year, but dropped a series to Florida State last weekend in Tallahassee. It bounced back to take a 9-7 win over Georgia on Wednesday.
If the Diamond Deacs want to have any realistic shot at finishing second in the Atlantic Division then it needs to win this series. That is quite a tall task, as I think getting a single game will be sufficient for the weekend to maintain third place.
Wake Starters Listed First
Friday (6:30) - Parker Dunshee (7-1, 3.99) vs. Charlie Barnes (4-2, 2.30)
Saturday (4:00) - Donnie Sellers (3-2, 4.35) vs. Alex Eubanks (5-3, 3.90)
Sunday (1:00) - Connor Johnstone (5-0, 2.87) vs. Pat Krall (6-0, 2.77)
The six projected starters for this weekend have a combined record of 30-8, including a Sunday matchup between Johnston and Krall who have combined to go 11-0 so far this season.
Clemson has been stout defensively this season, allowing just 3.8 runs per game, while averaging 6.5 runs per game. The Tigers have won 9 straight games at home, including sweeps over Virginia Tech and Boston College in the last two series.
Barnes, the Clemson starter tonight, has struck out 71 batters in 58 innings of work, while walking just 12. He leads the starters with a .234 opponent batting average.
The biggest player to keep an eye on offensively for Clemson is sophomore Seth Beer. He is batting .284 with 12 home runs, and 35 RBIS. He has drawn 41 walks on the season, while striking out just 20 times.
Another name to watch offensively is catcher Chris Williams, who has mashed 10 homers of his own while batting .306, with a team-high 40 RBIS.
I do not expect a change in the starting lineup for Wake on the offensive side of things, and Keegan Maronpot should be back in his right field spot after getting the midweek game off en lieu of Nick DiPonzio.
Overall, this is a big weekend for Wake Forest to make up some ground on Clemson and Louisville, but taking a single game out of the three will likely be treading water.
If the season ended today Wake Forest would be the 4 seed in the ACC Tournament. Grabbing at least the 3 seed would be ideal because it avoids the 5 seed in pool play, and also avoids the 1 seed in the semi-finals should the favorites advance.
This series is the biggest one the ACC this weekend, as it’s the only one with ranked teams playing each other.
Another one that Wake fans will want to keep an eye on is the Florida State - Miami matchup. Both teams come into the series with a 9-9 record. The best outcome there would be a 2-1 series win for Miami, as it would keep the Seminoles off of the Deacs in the Atlantic, but also keep ground between Wake and Miami as well in the ACC column.