Sunday's ACCT championship game features Maryland playing in its first such game in 38 years. Their opponent, Georgia Tech, won the ACCT just two years ago. Earlier this year the Yellow Jackets visited Shipley Field for a series that the Terps won. In fact, they were one blown call at the plate away from sweeping the series.
Georgia Tech (35 - 25) came into this series on the outside of the NCAAT bubble. Their RPI was a borderline 35, but their SOS was an impressive 8. The general consensus was that the Yellow Jackets needed to do well in the ACCT. This they did by defeating Miami and Clemson, probably enough to get them in the NCAAT. Of course if they win the ACCT they're automatically in.
The probable starter for the Terps is Jake Drossner (4 - 1, 2.12 ERA), but Coach Szefc did not categorically rule out a different scenario. Drossner started the third game of the series against Tech back in April. He pitched fairly well, making one mistake (a home run by Arden Pabst). Unfortunately a couple of uncharacteristic fielding mishaps by the Terps gave Tech three unearned runs. Drossner left after six innings without a decision.
Georgia Tech will start either LHP Devin Stanton (5 - 3, 2.13 ERA) or RHP Matt Grimes (5 - 2, 4.08 ERA). Stanton pitched against the Terps in April and went 5.1 innings, giving up two runs and being saddled with the loss. Grimes faced Drossner in game three of the April series and was hit hard. Additionally, Grimes pitched this past Tuesday and gave up three runs in 4.2 innings.
One of Tech's closers, "Trusty" Dusty Isaacs threw five innings on Friday and will probably be on a pitch count should he enter Sunday's game. The same goes for Tech's other closer, Sam Clay, who threw four innings on Friday in the Yellow Jacket's victory over Clemson. Maryland's Kevin Mooney threw on Thursday and Friday, and literally saved the game against the Seminoles. Ben Brewster and Bobby Ruse pitched on Friday and showed signs of being rusty after the long lay-off. The ace in the hole (pun intended) is that it's not unrealistic to think Jake Stinnett will be available should the occasion warrant it.
Georgia Tech can swing the bat. Their lead-off hitter, Daniel Spingola, is hitting .329 and leads the ACC with 79 hits. He's stolen 15 bases in 16 attempts. Matt Gonzales (.301 BA), Thomas Smith (.296 BA), and Mott Hyde (.296 BA, four HRs) are dangerous hitters.
But this is not the same group of Maryland hitters that Georgia Tech saw earlier this year. The line-up has been tightened up, and almost everyone has seen their batting average rise. In the ACCT Maryland has hit for power and has not stranded many base runners.
The Yellow Jackets are not as good in the field as Maryland. But Tech has has had good success gunning down runners attempting to steal. Further, the Yellow Jackets have been here before and bring a long tradition of top-notch baseball into this game. Conversely, this is new ground for Maryland. But in the month of May the Terps have played great team baseball, unequivocally better than any other team in the ACC.
Both teams have a right to feel good about themselves. Neither backed their way into the title game. On paper Maryland is favored, but games aren't played on paper. Players rise to the occasion and do the unthinkable. This is what has characterized Maryland baseball in its last year in the ACC. Which is precisely why I think that come Sunday afternoon Terrapin fans everywhere will have a big smile on their face.
Date, time and location: May 25, 1 p.m., Greensboro, NC
Radio: WMUC Sports Sirius 200/ XM 190
Online streaming: WatchESPN