To make the NCAA tournament, there’s more work to do for Georgia Tech at the ACC baseball tournament that begins Tuesday. How much work is unclear.
The No. 8 seed Yellow Jackets will have two pool-play games in Durham, N.C., beginning Tuesday at 11 a.m. against No. 12 seed Pittsburgh. They play Friday against top-seeded North Carolina at 3 p.m. At 31-25 and No. 46 in RPI, Tech almost certainly has to win those two games to advance into the semifinals to have a chance for their résumé to get a look from the NCAA selection committee.
Coach Danny Hall declined a guess at what the Jackets need to do to get into the field for the 30th time in 34 seasons, or else miss out for the third time in the past four seasons.
“There’s way too many variables outside of what’s in our control that it would be hard to predict how the at-large bids are going to go,” he said. “Now, with that being said, the only guarantee we have to get in would be to win this tournament, and that will be the focus, is to do everything we can to win this tournament.”
Boyd Nation, who runs the baseball RPI website boydsworld.com, said that Tech should have “a decent chance” if it reaches the tournament finals. Otherwise, he doesn’t like the Jackets’ outlook. Reaching the final would require Tech to beat Pitt and UNC (in the event all three teams are 1-1, the Tar Heels would advance as the highest seed) and then the winner of the pool of Duke, Louisville and Wake Forest.
The Jackets lost road series to Pitt and North Carolina in back-to-back weekends in April. Tech won two of three against both Duke and Wake Forest at home and hasn’t played Louisville. The series win over Duke this past weekend was arguably the biggest of the season. The Blue Devils are 39-14 and No. 17 in RPI.
Louisville is 40-16 and No. 27 in RPI. Wake Forest is 25-30 and No. 64 in RPI.
“I think it’s possible (to win the tournament) because of the format,” Hall said. “If you win your first two games, you’re in the semifinals, so I definitely think it’s possible, but I think it’s possible for all of us, for sure.”
Hall will throw Xzavion Curry at the Panthers and then first-team All-ACC selection Connor Thomas against the Tar Heels. Should the Jackets advance, Hall said the starter has yet to be determined. Thomas has been dominant of late. In his past eight starts, he has had a 2.14 ERA with a 68/6 strikeout/walk ratio. He has gone the full nine innings three times.