DURHAM — The stage is set for a huge baseball showdown Saturday night, with the winner heading to the ACC championship on Sunday afternoon. But on the other side, for either the Wolfpack or Tar Heels, a formidable foe is waiting.
Virginia Tech has cruised through the conference tournament much the same as Georgia Tech did last season, sweeping its pool en route to the ACC championship game.
During their three-game winning streak, the Hokies have shown they can get it done at the plate and on the mound, but no player has been more impressive than shortstop Chad Pinder.
The junior has been pounding his way to a .545 average, with three home runs, eight RBIs and three runs, including a grand slam against rival Virginia in the opener.
The Hokies’ pitching staff, whether it be starters or relief pitchers, have shut down their opponents thus far. Through three games, the staff has a 1.66 ERA and has yet to allow more than two runs in a contest.
With a berth to the ACC championship and a potential national seed on the line, N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said he is focused on much more than just defeating North Carolina or claiming the ACC crown.
“We would like to have a championship ring to represent the (ACC), our players understand that and they want it,” he said. “But there’s also a bigger prize out there and you’re trying to get better every game … it will be a great game tomorrow night, two great clubs, it will be a packed house.
“We’re just trying to keep going and get better every day.”
All about Adametz: Bryan Adametz, the senior outfielder for the Wolfpack, did it all Friday, finishing 2-for-4 at the plate with a run and an RBI and made a highlight catch in left field in the seventh to rob Tyler Palmer of his potential third hit of the game.
His RBI single in the fifth extended his active ACC-leading hitting streak to 14 games. The Wellington, Fla., native boasts a .434 average with 12 RBIs and 10 runs during his current hitting streak and looks to continue the streak Saturday night when N.C. State takes on Carolina – the team he started it against.
“He and guys like Grant Clyde just epitomize what our team is all about,” coach Elliott Avent said. “Our surge over the last 30 games has probably happened because of Adametz, Clyde, Tarran Senay and (Logan) Ratledge coming around offensively.”
Adametz was credited with an error on a ball that was pushing hard to the third-base line, which baffled Elliott Avent.
“That’s a tough one,” he said. “It’s an easy game the farther you are away from the dirt.”
Speed kills: As it has been all season, the Pack’s speed was once again a huge acumen for the win. N.C. State scored all four runs in the second inning with the ball never getting past the dirt and three infield singles.
Logan Ratledge’s 10th stolen base of the season gave N.C. State 100 on the season, which stands second in the ACC behind Clemson and tied for 21st nationally with Canisius University.
“When you look on the scouting report on N.C. State, at the top it’s going to say ‘speed,’ ” Avent said. “That’s what we do and it makes it really tough for other teams to try to contend.”
Smith: 919-829-4841; @RCorySmith