After enjoying some home cooking on an extended homestand (10-1), Wolfpack Baseball hits the road to Blacksburg, Va. this weekend to take on Virginia Tech for a three game weekend series. The Pack currently sits at 34-12 on the year (16-8, 2nd Atlantic) and is riding a 10 game win streak. The Pack has outscored its opponents 76-34 during the streak for an average margin of victory of more than four runs per game.
Virginia Tech comes into the weekend playing some decent ball themselves, but at 10-14 in conference they barely have their foot in the door of the ACC Tournament. If they want to stay in, they need to do some work this weekend against the Pack and next weekend against Carolina.
Despite their tedious ACC Tournament situation, the Hokies are a pretty good ballclub and they’ve been playing well of late. They’re a good hitting club, currently batting .300 as a team, while their pitching staff has a respectable ERA of 4.09. Now 32 – 16 overall, they’ve won 14 of their last 18 and have crept up quietly. Their RPI is up to #32 this week and they now project as a 3 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Game Times – Probable Pitching Matchups
- Friday, 5:30pm – LHP Carlos Rodon ( 8-0, 1.42 ERA,) vs. LHP Joe Mantiply ( 5-4, 3.51)
- Saturday, 2pm – RHP Anthony Tzamtzis ( 5-3, 2.77) vs. RHP Marc Zecchino ( 2-4, 4.47)
- Sunday, 1pm – RHP Ethan Ogburn (4-2, 2.60) vs. RHP Andrew Aizenstadt ( 2-2, 5.44)
Offensively, we should call this the “What doesn’t Chris Diaz lead in” section just to save time. Diaz leads the Wolfpack in batting average (.388), hits (73), doubles (21), rbi (45) and total bases (101). He is second in total runs scored (43; Trea Turner 55) and slugging% (.537; Ryan Mathews .597) which, along with leading in total bases, is pretty impressive for a guy that doesn’t hit many homeruns.
Trea Turner still leads the team in steals, of course. He’s swiped 45 and has only been gunned down twice. The race isn’t particularly close in the conference or nationally either. His closest national competition is still eight off the pace.
Carlos Rodon leads the team in wins (8; 2nd ACC, t15th Nationally), ERA (1.42; 2nd ACC, 8th Nationally) and strikeouts (97; 2nd, t7th). Not bad for not having pitched for 13 days.
Current conference standings, courtesy of theACC.com:
|(As Of May 11)|
State currently sits at 16-8 in conference, 2nd place in the Atlantic, 5 games behind FSU (21-3). Clemson trails the Wolfpack by 2 games (14-10). We already touched on VT’s situation regarding the ACC and NCAA Tournaments, so let’s look at the Pack’s. If the ACC Tourney were to start today, State would be the third seed. To improve this seeding, the Pack would need to overtake FSU for first place in the Atlantic because the Coastal division winner (currently Carolina at 16-8) will take the #2 spot, regardless of conference record. Not to beat a dead horse, but FSU still needs to drop 5 of its last 6 conference games for this to even be possible.
On the other hand, it is possible to fall in seeding with Clemson only 2 games back of the Wolfpack. Fortunately for State, Clemson faces FSU this weekend, then must hit the road to Wake Forest to close out the regular season next weekend.
For all the particulars, including tournament format and how ACC Tournament teams are seeded, you can go here.
For a rundown of all the weekend ACC baseball action, you can go here.
The Wolfpack is now positioned very well to host an NCAA Regional at Doak Field in Raleigh. At this point, it would take an implosion of some degree for State to NOT host a regional. To the contrary, with a strong showing over the next nine days and then a strong showing in the ACC Tournament, Wolfpack Baseball could merit a national seed (top eight) and find itself among the elite. That would be quite an accomplishment for a team that was barely mentioned as an NCAA Tournament participant to start the season.
Despite the Pack’s hot streak recently, their RPI has only jumped one spot each of the past two weeks (currently #13). Going on the road @VT (#32) this week, and @FSU (#2) next week, and with all of the likely ACC Tournament teams having good RPIs (six in the top 25, none lower than #32), more wins than losses will only help the Pack’s cause.
Speaking of RPI numbers, UVa leapfrogged State this week on the strength of their sweep @Miami. They now sit one spot ahead of the Pack at #12.
To see updated regional host sites, you can check out the updated bracketology from ESPN’s College Baseball Blog.
This piece has a nice run down on the outlook for State, Carolina and other local teams. (news-record.com)
A Special Shout Out
NC State softball shortstop Renada Davis has been named ACC Freshman of the Year, the league office announced today. The Tomball, Texas native set the Wolfpack single-season batting average record in her first year, shattering the previous mark (.348) by nearly 20 points, .365.
Davis also set a new program best in on-base percentage this season, and has consistently been in the top five in batting average among all ACC hitters. Heading into the tournament, her average stands as the fourth-best mark in the conference, as does her number of hits (54). In addition, her on-base percentage sits as the eighth highest in the league prior to tournament action.
Looks like the Pack’s fortunes on both diamonds are pretty bright.
A couple about State’s win over NC A&T and the current 10 game win streak….
No. 13 NC State’s Winning Streak Grows to 10 (gopack.com)
N.C. State tops N.C. A&T for 10th straight baseball win (newsobserver.com)
One you might have missed about Pack Baseball’s super freshmen…
Wolfpack freshman baseball players living up to expectations (newsobserver.com)
And in case you hadn’t heard, former NC State Baseball Head Coach Sam Esposito is among eight 2012 inductees into the NC Sports Hall of Fame. (newsobserver.com)
Esposito played 10 years with the Chicago White Sox, participating in the 1959 World Series. Named N.C. State’s baseball coach in 1967, his teams won a program-record 513 games in 21 years and “Espo” coached 69 All-ACC players and seven All-Americans. His 1968 Wolfpack team won the ACC title and finished third in the College World Series.
Game One – Friday/Saturday
Carlos Rodon starts (after 13 days off) and despite some control issues goes 7.1 innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned). He also struck out 11, walking 4 and hitting 3 batters. It wasn’t Rodon’s prettiest outing as he found it necessary to work out of trouble on several occasions, but he did leave the game with the score tied at 2.
The game would remain tied for a while (overnight, in fact). But after suspending the game in the middle of the 10th inning due to darkness/lighting issues last night, it wouldn’t take State long to strike on Saturday afternoon when the game resumed. Ryan Mathews’ 2 run HR in the top of the 11th would give the Pack the delayed win, 4-2. Chris Overman would pitch the bottom of the 11th for the save (6). DJ Thomas gets the win (2-1) with a scoreless 10th inning. Rodon did not figure in the decision, but still managed to lower his already stellar ERA to 1.41 on the season (1.23 for the day).
State Wins 11th-Straight, Edging VT 4-2 in 11 – (GoPack.com)
On Friday, the Wolfpack took a 2-0 lead with one-run innings in the first and second, before Tech rallied back with one run in the third, and another in the fifth. The two teams battled for four and a half scoreless innings before a bank of lights on the third base line shut down. After a 30-minute delay, the lights returned to working order, but both coaches reached an agreement to suspend the game due to concerns over the players’ health.
The game resumed on Saturday at 2 p.m. with the bottom of the 10th. D.J. Thomas (2-1) pushed the Wolfpack (35-12, 17-8 ACC) through to the 11th, taking the win on 1 1/3 innings of hitless ball. Mathews deposited his ninth home run of the year with two outs and Danny Canela on first to make it 4-2 in the 11th. Chris Overman (6) claimed the save by holding the Hokies (32-17, 10-15 ACC) to one hit in the final frame.
Game Two – Saturday
TOP(NCSU) - Turner pops out to short, Canela grounds out to 2nd, Mathews grounds out to short. Nothing for the Pack in the first, VT coming to bat.
BOTTOM(VT) - Despite a leadoff walk, Tzamtzis faces the minimum. He K’s 2 in the inning, including a “strike ‘em out/throw ‘em out” double play on which Canela guns down Perez trying to steal 2nd to end the inning. Scoreless tie after one inning.
TOP(NCSU) - Canela singles to leadoff, then is forced at 2nd on a fielder’s choice (5-4) with Ciencin reaching first…Brett Austin singles, moving Ciencin to 2nd, then Fincher flies out to center and Ciencin gets caught off the bag at 2nd to end the threat. 2 hits for the Pack, but no runs. Still scoreless.
BOTTOM(VT) - A one out VT single, but nothing more. Tzamtzis K’s 2 more and sits the Hokies down with no damage. Still scoreless after two complete.
TOP(NCSU) - Ratledge leads off with a single and moves to 2nd on the sac bunt by Bergquist…Trea Turner gets the RBI single, scoring Ratledge, then gets forced at second on a fielder’s choice with Chris Diaz reaching on the play…Ryan Mathews reaches and advances to 2nd on a fielding error (e3), Diaz advances to 3rd…Canela grounds out to the catcher (2-3) to end the inning. Pack picks up one on two hits to take a 1-0 lead.
BOTTOM(VT) - VT’s Keselica leads off with a single up the middle, then advances to 2nd on the sac bunt, and to 3rd when Perez flies out to deep cf…two consecutive two out walks loads the bases for VT with 2 down…A bloop single by Zagunis scores two for VT, still runners on the corners…Shaban then flies out to end the inning, but not before the Hokies pick up 2 runs on 2 hits to take the lead 2-1 after three.
TOP(NCSU) - Ciencin, Austin and Fincher go down in order.
BOTTOM(VT) - Wernicki hit by pitch, reaches with one down, but is gunned down by Canela (2-6 on the throw) trying to steal 2nd…fielding error by Bergquist (e4) allows Keselica to reach with 2 down…then Morgan grounds out to the pitcher (1-3) to end the inning. Still 2-1 VT lead after four.
TOP(NCSU) - Ratledge leads off with a single for the Pack and Bergquist draws a walk…Turner flies out to LF, Ratledge tags and advances to 3rd (1st and 3rd, one down)…Ratledge scores on the squeeze play, Diaz gets the RBI and reaches on the fielder’s choice, Bergquist to 2nd…After Mathews fouls out to first (2 out), Canela reaches on an infield hit to 1st, bases loaded with 2 down…Ciencin grounds out to short to end the threat. Pack picks up one run on two hits to knot the score at 2 after four and a half.
BOTTOM(VT) - VT’s Perez draws a leadoff walk from Tzamtzis…after a visit to the mound from the NCSU trainer, Tzamtzis is pulled, apparently has a blister popping up on his throwing hand, Ryan Wilkins on to relieve Tzamtzis…Pinder pops out to third then Perez steals 2nd…Horan then K’s and Zagunis gounds out to the pitcher (1-3) to end the inning. Still 2-2
Line on Tzamtzis today: 4.0 IP (started 5th but failed to retire a batter), 2 runs on 3 hits, 4K’s, 4 BB and a hit batsman…and one blister that could spell trouble for NCSU down the road.
TOP(NCSU) - Brett Austin pops out to second, Fincher K’s looking, Ratledge fouls out to the firstbase side. Nothing for State, still tied 2-2.
BOTTOM(VT) - A leadoff walk followed by a single gives VT 1st and 2nd with none away…Wernicki K’s (fouls bunt attempt on 3rd strike)…and that’s all for Ryan Wilkins, Travis Orwig will come on in relief for the Pack with one down…VT’s Helms pinch hits for Keselica, moves the runners over with a sac bunt…Morgan grounds out to second (4-3) to end the VT threat.
Line on Wilkins today: 1.1 IP, 0 runs on 1 hit, 2K, 1BB.
TOP(NCSU) - Turner gets an infield single with one away then steals 2nd, Diaz K’s then Ryan Mathews parks the first pitch he sees over the left field wall for the 2 run HR…Canela then grounds out to second to end the inning, but the Pack picks up 2 runs on the Mathews shot to retake the lead 4-2 after six and a half.
BOTTOM(VT) - Perez K’s swinging, Pinder grounds out to short, Horan K’s swinging. Hokies go quietly, Pack still leads 4-2.
TOP(NCSU) - VT sends out Martir in relief of Mantiply to start the 8th…Ciencin singles to lead off the inning, moves to 2nd on Austin’s sac bunt, then to 3rd on the groundout by Fincher…Ratledge flies out to right to end the threat. Still 4-2 Pack.
BOTTOM(VT) - Zagunis grounds out to 3rd, Shaban grounds out to 1st (3-1, pitcher covering), then Hayden grounds out to 1st (3u). Wolfpack takes a 2 run lead to the 9th.
TOP(NCSU) - Bergquist K’s swinging, Trea Turner reaches on a one out walk, then steals 2nd again (50th on the year, 5 this weekend so far)…Diaz gets an infield single, moving Turner to 3rd…Ryan Mathews reaches on an error by the VT secondbaseman Shaban (e4) scoring Trea Turner and moving Diaz to 2nd…Atwell on to pitch for Martir for VT…Canela reaches on a fielder’s choice and a throwing error (e3) allows Diaz to score and Mathews to advance to 2nd…Ciencin then flies out moving Mathews to 3rd and Austin grounds out to end the inning. Pack picks up 2 insurance runs, now leads 6-2. Last chance for VT with the bottom of the order due up in the 9th (#7 Wernicki, #8 Helms, #9 Morgan).
BOTTOM(VT) - Wernicki flies out to right, Helms grounds out to the pitcher (1u), then two consectutive two out singles makes things interesting…but Orwig bears down and gets Pinder to fly out to right to slam the door on VT. Pack wins 6-2, extends winning streak to 12.
Line on Orwig today: 3.2 IP, 0 runs on 2 hits, 2 k’s against 0 BB. Heck of an outing by Orwig to take the win today.
Turner Makes History as Wolfpack Clinches Series – (GoPack.com)
BLACKSBURG, VA. – For the second time Saturday, Ryan Mathews provided No. 13 NC State’s game-winning hit, blasting a two-run shot with two outs in the seventh to push the Wolfpack ahead en route to a 6-2 win over Virginia Tech at English Field.
The victory extends the Pack’s current winning streak to 12 games, the longest run since State won 16 in a row in 2003. State’s 18 conference wins ties the most in a single season, matching 2008.
Trea Turner stole a pair of bases in the to improve to 50-for-52 on the year and become only the third player in ACC history to steal 50 bases in a single season, joining Georgia Tech’s Ty Griffin (50 in 1986) and UNC’s Brian Roberts (63 in 1997). Turner finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, marking the 15th-consecutive game the freshman has scored at least one run.
Mathews stretched his team-leading hitting streak to 16 games with his 10th home run of the year, his only hit in a 1-for-5 performance. Logan Ratledge scored twice in a 2-for-4 game. Danny Canela went 2-for-5. Chris Diaz drove in one and scored once in a 1-for-4 effort.
Something Fun….I hope
To give a little bit of a shout out to Sam Esposito and some of the great moments from Wolfpack Baseball’s past (not to mention a shameless attempt to increase traffic and chatter on the baseball threads…I admit it), I give you the following….
Between 1973 and 1975, Sam Esposito’s NC State baseball teams won three straight ACC Championships, defeating Clemson to win the title each time.
Now, there’s a guy we all know and love in all three of those team photos. And that guy is…..
Yep, the pride of East Chicago (Indiana, that is), that’s Tim Stoddard. An NCAA National Champion with NC State Basketball in ’74; and a World Series Champion with the Baltimore Orioles in ’83 (he also played in ’79 series with O’s). Of course, he also was a three time ACC Champion as a member of the NC State Baseball team (’73-’75), which is the main reason I bring this up.
And aside from some of the ugliest unis ever on the planet, there might be some other (more?) interesting things in those team photos as well. I’m hoping that a certain someone will pop by and fill us in (or give me the green light to do so…PM me on the forums…you know who you are).
Purely coincidentally (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), this is my favorite photo ever taken at Carolina’s Boshamer Stadium…
Just look how dejected the Tiger 3rd base coach looks. Poor guy. And again with the ugly unis theme for the Pack.
Game Three – Sunday
Pack goes for the sweep today against VT in Blacksburg. Fifteen minutes ’til first pitch and the weather looks like it could get sketchy before the day is over. Weather man says OK until late afternoon, weather radar says different….looks like middle innings to me. Then again, I’m the one that thought we would be able to get underway last Saturday after about a 60 min rain delay. That game ended up being postponed until the following day, so take my opinion for what it’s worth (not much).
TOP(NCSU) - Trea Turner K’s looking, Chris Diaz out at first (1-3) on a bunt attempt, Danny Canela K’s looking. State down in order in the first, VT coming to bat.
BOTTOM(VT) - Perez reaches on an infield single to lead things off for VT, then Pinder flies out to right and Horan and Zagunis both fly out to center…no runs on one hit for VT, 0-0 after one.
TOP(NCSU) - Pack goes down in order in their half of the 2nd.
BOTTOM(VT) - Shaban leads off with a single, then advances to 3rd when Hayden doubles down the LF line…Shaban scores on a squeeze play by Wernicki, Hayden advances to 3rd, Wernicki reaches 1st safely for the base hit…Keselica K’s looking to make it 1st and 3rd, 1 out…Wernicki steals 2nd…Morgan grounds out to short scoring Hayden, Wernicki advances to 3rd…After Perez draws a two out walk he gets forced at 2nd on the fielder’s choice by Pinder (6-4). Tech picks up 2 runs on 3 hits to take the lead 2-0 after two.
TOP(NCSU) - Brett Austin gets a one out single then advances to 2nd on the ground out (5-3) by Ratledge…Turner flies out to right. Nothing for the Pack, VT still up 2-0.
BOTTOM(VT) - VT’s Horan leads off with a single, then Zagunis singles moving Horan to 2nd…both runners advance on the sac bunt by Shaban (1-4 on the putout at 1st)…Horan scores on the ground out by Hayden (4-3), Zagunis advances to 3rd…Wernicki reaches with two outs after being hit by the pitch giving Tech runners on the corners with 2 out….Ethan Ogburn will get the early hook in favor of Vance Williams….Williams gets Keselica to ground out to short to end the inning. Hokies pick up one more run on two hits, now lead the Pack 3-0 after three..
Line on Ogburn today: 2.2 IP, 3 runs on 6 hits, 1K, 1BB, 1 hit batsman.
TOP(NCSU) - Chris Diaz draws a lead off walk then Canela flies out to center…Mathews doubles to left scoring Diaz from 1st…Senay K’s swinging then Ciencin pops out to end the inning. Pack gets one back, now trail VT 3-1.
BOTTOM(VT) - Pinder singles with two out then steals 2nd, Horan draws a two out walk…then Zagunis grounds out to 3rd to end the inning. Still 3-1 Tech.
TOP(NCSU) - Fincher K’s swinging, Austin flies out to cf, then Ratledge reaches on a throwing error and advances to 2nd (e5)…Turner gets the walk with 2 outs, then is forced at 2nd on the Diaz fielder’s choice to end the inning.
BOTTOM(VT) - Shaban walks to lead off the VT 5th…Hayden K’s looking…Wernicki reaches on the fielder’s choice, Shaban forced at 2nd (6-4), then Keselica flies out to end the inning. VT still leads 3-1.
TOP(NCSU) - Joyce on in relief of Zecchino to start the 6th….Canela walks to lead off then Mathews singles…Then Taran Senay launches a 3 run shot over the centerfield wall to give the Pack the lead…still nobody out…Ciencin and Fincher then both ground out and Austin K’s swinging to end the inning, but not before the Senay 3 run HR gives the Pack a 4-3 lead after five and a half.
BOTTOM(VT) - Morgan K’s swinging then Perez gets a one out single…Pinder fouls out to the left side…Horan singles, advancing Perez 1st to 3rd…Zagunis gets a 2 out RBI single, scoring Perez and moving Horan to 2nd…Shaban then singles to load ‘em up with 2 down…After throwing 2 consecutive balls to Hayden, Vance Williams is going to be pulled, Dillon Frye coming on in relief with the bags juiced, 2 down, and a 2-0 count on Hayden….Hayden’s bloop single scores Horan easily, and Zagunis scores on a close play at the plate, Shaban to 3rd and Hayden to 2nd on the throw to the plate…Avent out to argue the call at the plate, is ejected from the game….When play resumes, Wernicki grounds out to end the inning, but the Hokies pick up 3 runs on 4 hits and retake the lead, 6-4.
Line on Williams today: 3.0 IP, 3 runs on 4 hits, 2K, 3BB
TOP(NCSU) - McIntyre on in relief of Joyce to start the inning for VT. Ratledge pops out, Turner goes down swinging, Diaz grounds out.
BOTTOM(VT) - Keselica walks and VT has the leadoff man aboard (again)…Keselica moves to 2nd on the sac bunt by Morgan, then moves to 3rd on the sac bunt by Perez…Pinder then flies out to cf. Nothing for VT, but they still lead 6-4 after seven complete.
TOP(NCSU) - Atwell on to pitch in relief of McIntyre. Canela draws a walk to lead off, then Mathews K’s looking and Senay flies out to center…Canela advances to 2nd on a wild pitch then Ciencin walks….VT will make another pitching change, Atwell will yield to Labitan….Fincher grounds out to end the threat. Still 6-4 VT.
BOTTOM(VT) – Horan grounds out to first (3u)…After a Zagunis double, Shaban walks and Zagunis advances to 3rd on a wild pitch….and that’s all for Dillon Frye as Chris Overman comes on for the Pack….Hayden K’s swinging (2 out) then Shaban steals 2nd…Wernicki lines out to third to end the threat. Tech gets nothing but still take a 2 run lead to the 9th. Austin (8), Ratledge (9) and Turner (1) Due up for the Pack in the 9th.
Line on Frye today: 1.2 IP, 0 runs on 2 hits, 0 K, 2 BB
Line on Overman today: 0.2 IP, 0 runs on 0 hits, 1 K, 0 BB
TOP(NCSU) - Austin flies out to left, Ratledge and Turner both ground out to second to end it. Pack drops game three to VT 6-4.
Shaky pitching and 4 hits won’t win many games, but the Pack was overdue for a day like this. Hopefully it’s out of their system. That being said, a few hard hit balls by the Pack today just happened to be a few inches too close to VT fielders. Couple of those fall in and who knows? Anyway, Williams takes the loss for the Pack (2-3). For VT, McIntyre gets the win (6-0) and Labitan the save (3).