Spot in ACC Final on Line Against Wake

After yesterday's loss to NC State, I mentioned that Miami's chances of making it through pool play and into the championship game of the tournament were slim and hinged on a number of things going right.

Well, things have gone right so far. First, UM got the win they needed over UNC by the score of 5-3. Then, Wake Forest came through and beat NC State 7-3. That means that with a UNC win over NC State and a Miami win over Wake Forest on Friday, Miami will be into the ACC tournament final.

The Hurricanes are more talented than Wake Forest and they took two of three from the Deacons in the regular season, but Wake is still pushing for a regional bid, so they are going to leave everything out on the field.

Barring a last-minute surprise, I would expect Brian Holmes to get the start for Wake Forest after Tim Cooney and Jack Fischer started the first two games.

Holmes will come in with a 7-2 record and a 2.59 ERA. Hitters have managed a meager .207 batting average against him.

Behind Holmes, it will be an all-hands-on-deck day for the bullpen. Regardless of how much they have pitched over the last two days, I would think that everyone will be available given the stakes.

The most consistent arm out of the bullpen for Wake Forest is Nate Jones. In 23 appearances, Jones has a 1.15 ERA. The closer for the Demon Deacons is Michael Dimock. He has a 3.57 ERA and 12 saves on the season. With 40.1 innings pitched spread over his 26 appearances, Dimock also gives head coach Tom Walter a versatile arm that he can stretch out if need be.

Offensively, Wake Forest is far from a powerhouse. They are hitting .262 as a team and no regular starter is hitting above .300. They also lean heavily on a small group of players.

Pat Blair is the spark plug in the lineup. He leads the team with a .296 batting average, .424 on-base percentage and 22 stolen bases. Almost all of the power production in the lineup comes from two hitters, Mac Williamson and Carlos Lopez. Williamson is hitting .288 with 17 home runs and 52 RBI. Lopez chips in with a .292 batting average, nine home runs and 50 RBI.

There is no excuse for Miami not to at least hold up their end of the bargain. There are only a few guys in Wake's lineup that can truly beat you and while they have some pitchers on staff with solid numbers, none of them outside of Jones have been dominant.

By the time they take the field tomorrow night, Miami will know whether or not they are still in the running to get to the final. Here's hoping that they have something to play for and get the chance to play for their spot in the championship game.

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