2017 ACC Tournament: Diamond Heels vs Miami preview

Jun 24, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Baseball before the contest between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the 2016 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Baseball before the contest between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the 2016 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

The Diamond Heels will play Miami on Saturday, with a spot in the ACC Championship game on the line.

When the Diamond Heels finished their dominance of rival NC State on Friday, they knew how big Saturday’s game would be.

When one seed Louisville lost, Carolina became the highest seed left in the tournament. Carolina is far and away the favorite to come away with the ACC title.

Carolina could have decided to lay off its guns, just to get rest for the NCAA Tournament, but that is not likely.

We probably will not see J.B. Bukauskas this weekend, but we will see Luca Dalatri, who has been nearly as dominant.

The Heels will battle with perennial powerhouse Miami.

Miami came into the weekend with their 44-year streak of making the NCAA tournament in jeopardy.

But with a solid start to pool play, Miami looks safely in on the other side now. Let’s learn a little bit about the opponent.


As stated before, the main thing to know about Miami is their historical dominance. “The U” is known for its strong football roots, but their baseball program is no slouch.

Miami is the current record holder with a 44-year streak in the NCAA Tournament, but it was not easy this year.

Miami needed to reach the knockout stage of the tournament to help their chances, and they did that. With a win, or two in this part, they could lock themselves in the NCAA’s.

The Canes comes into the game against the Diamond Heels with a 31-26 record, fresh off of a rally win against Wake Forest.

Miami entered the 7th down 2-0 but scored five runs in the final three frames to win 5-2. Wake came into the tournament as the three seed and was upset by the Canes.


Jesse Lepore will get the start for Miami today. Lepore has suffered through a trying season this year, going 1-5 in 12 starts. His ERA is also sub-par, sitting at 4.64. His ERA is the highest on the team.

That does not bode well for Miami against a powerful offensive team like UNC.

Most guys out of the bullpen for the Hurricanes should be good to go, including Albert Maury.

Maury has been the Canes most consistent reliever, going 3-1 this year in 25 appearances. He is allowing about one hit per appearance, which is not too bad for a reliever.

One other solid reliever is closer Frankie Bartow.

Bartow has been a save machine for the Canes, coming in with twelve this season. But despite his twelve saves, he only has a 1-3 record. His ERA is also a head-scratcher at 3.72.

This game means a lot to Miami, who still could be playing for their postseason lives. Do not be surprised if Miami throws the whole kitchen sink at the Diamond Heels offense, in hopes of finally slowing them down.


When initially looking at the Hurricanes lineup, nobody really jumps off the page.

Nobody on the team is currently hitting better than .275, and only one player is hitting better than .265.

But there is a little bit of pop in their lineup.

Romy Gonzales, who is hitting .260, leads the team with eleven homers, and 37 RBI’s. He is also second on the team in OPS with .802.

Carl Chester leads the team in batting average at .274, with thirteen doubles and thirty RBI’s. Chester is the most consistent player on offense for this Hurricanes team.

The Canes were dealt a crushing blow early in the season, when possibly their best offensive player and catcher Michael Amditis broke his leg. To that point in the season, Amditis was hitting .357, with an .867 OPS.

Losing Amditis opened up a spot in the lineup that has not been consistently filled since.

Also on offense, Miami is capable of moving runners around by stealing bases. They have stolen 52 bases in 78 attempts this season. So look out for that when the Canes get on base.

What to expect

With Dalatri expected to get the start on Saturday, the Heels have shown this game is important.

It would be easy to shut it down, and rest for the big tournament next weekend, but that is not the Mike Fox way. The Heels will be chasing that ACC Tournament title this weekend.

Carolina’s offense has been unstoppable so far this tournament, averaging eleven runs in the two games, and their defense has been strong only allowing four runs total.

There is no reason the offense cannot keep rolling with the Hurricanes limited starting options. Carolina is facing a struggling starting pitcher, and should be primed to have another big outing.

Luca Dalatri has quietly been nearly as good as JB Bukauskas this year, and I would expect nothing but the best from him on Saturday.

Related Story: Tar Heels cruise past NC State

The Diamond Heels have been rolling all season, and I do not see that stopping on Saturday!