Wolfpack Basketball isn’t the only State team that hopes to make a good showing this weekend while headed a little west of Raleigh.Â State Baseball hits the road to face the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest in Winston-Salem this weekend for a 3 game conference series.
The Deacs are rarely flashy but are a very solid and veteran ballclub and are always dangerous.Â Additionally, they enjoy one of the better home ballpark atmospheres going.Â The Pack will need to be ready and to play well to come away with the series win in Winston, and a good showing would be quite useful since the Pack already finds itself looking up at not only FSU, but also Clemson in the standings.
So let’s look at what makes the Deacs tick.
11-8 (0-3 ACC)
2012: 33-24 (13-17); 4th ACC Atlantic; Advanced to ACC Champs game losing to Miami, 6-3.
At the Plate
As stated earlier, Wake isn’t particularly flashy offensively but they do everything fairly well and rarely hurt themselves generally speaking.Â They have several guys that hit for average, show occasional power and have enough speed to be threats once they get on base.
Evan Stephens #5 (Jr.-OF) – Stephens has been hitting extremely well (.422 avg).Â Though he doesn’t hit for power he gets on base a lot and scores a lot (14 runs scored, t2nd on team).Â He’s also knocked in a respectable 9 RBI and stolen 5 bases on 5 attempts.
Pat Blair #11 (Sr.-SS) – Perhaps Wake’s best all around offensive player, Blair hits at a .351 clip with occasional power (1 hr, 4 extra base hits).Â He’s also very disciplined at the plate having drawn an impressive 24 free passes.Â He leads the team in runs scored (15) and is tied for the lead in RBI (13).Â Always a threat to swipe an extra bag, Blair has 7 steals on 8 attempts.
Jack Carey #20 (Jr.-DH/OF) – A dangerous man at the plate, Carey is batting .395 and leads the team with 3 round trippers.Â He’s knocked in 13 RBI (t1st) and has scored 7 times.Â He draws his share of walks (9) and is a threat to steal if the situation calls for it (2/2).
Matt Conway #25 (Jr.-1B/LHP) – Another guy that can hurt you in several ways, Conway bats .333 with 2 HR.Â He’s scored 11 runs and has knocked in 13 (t1st).
Brett Armour #6 (Sr.-C), .296, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 7 runs scored; and Mark Rhine #2 (Sr.-3B), .269, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 13 BB, 14 runs scored both deserve a lot of respect from opposing pitchers as well.
In the Field
Wake’s pitching has had a few bumps but for the most part are solid.Â Their team ERA sits at 4.02.Â The Deac’s are giving up 5.2 rpg (more impressive if you take away the 20 that Carolina hung on them in game two last weekend) and opponents are hitting .261 against them.Â Their likely starters for the weekend are:
Austin Stadler #9 (Sr.-LHP) – Stadler has been Wake’s ace thus far, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.33 ERA and a .198 against avg.Â He’s struck out 21 against 10 BB and has only been taken deep twice.
Matt Pirro #1 (So.-RHP) – Pirro is 3-1 on the year with an ERA of 7.16.Â Hitters are averaging .277 against him and he’s given up 5 HR on the year.Â While he doesn’t strike out a lot of guys (8) and does tend to issue his share of walks (13), Pirro is a very good hurler despite what his numbers might say.Â I will refer you back to the 20 run output Carolina put on the Deacs last weekend…unfortunately for Pirro, he was the biggest recipient of the Heels’ offensive fury when he lasted only 1.1 innings and gave up 10 runs (9 earned), including all five of the HRs he’s given up on the year.
Justin Van Grouw #30 (Sr.-RHP) – Van Grouw is a big strong power pitcher, but has struggled some in the early going of 2013.Â He’s 1-3 on the year so far with an ERA of 4.67.Â Opponents have hit well against him (.309) thus far in his four starts, but he doesn’t hurt himself much with control problems (18 Ks against 5 BB) and doesn’t give up many HRs (only one on the year so far).Â If he’s hitting spots and is changing his speeds effectively he’s hard to hit.Â Let’s hope he doesn’t figure that out this weekend.
Defensively Wake is generally solid, though the left side of their infield has been suspect at times.Â With apologies to both Pat Blair (SS, 10 errors in 98 chances, fld.pct. .898) and Mark Rhine (3B, 6 errors in 57 chances, fld.pct. .895), they’re having more adventures than two seniors ought to.Â Hopefully the Pack’s right handed hitters have some sharply hit ground balls with bad hops in their bats this weekend (hey, it can’t hurt…right?).
Wake Forest Baseball (WakeForestSports.com)
Weekend Games Schedule
- 3/15 Friday – 6pm
- 3/16 Saturday – 4pm
- 3/17 Sunday – 1pm
- Head to Head 2012: NCSU 3-1 (State swept Wake in Raleigh but dropped one to the Deacs in the ACC Tourney in G’boro)
- 2013 Common Opponents: NM State: (Wake 2-1, State 2-0); Charlotte (Wake 1-0, State 1-0).
- Gene Hooks Field at Wake Forest Baseball Park – First Opened 1956; Renovated 2010; Capacity 6,000; Artificial playing surface.
|(As Of March 13)|