And so the 2016 NC State Baseball campaign approaches the crux of the situation. Headed down the back stretch. Coming to the meat of it (giggity). And more cliches, from which I’ll spare you.
After a week that included beating ECU and winning a home series vs Duke, Wolfpack Baseball (31-12, 12-7 ACC) finds itself still in the thick of the NCAA Tourney national seed discussion. Unfortunately, with their RPI and all meaningful rankings basically holding steady this week, they’re probably still on the outside looking in.
That could change starting this weekend in Clemson.
State hits the road this week to face the Tiggers (29-15, 11-13 ACC) in Clemson. After that the Pack will travel to what will probably be the toughest series of the year as they visit #2 Louisville, before returning home to close out the regular season by hosting #14 Carolina.
Lots of opportunity.
Clemson is an interesting case. Currently #9 in the latest RPI after taking a series vs FSU last weekend, the Tiggs are only just barely in line for a trip to the ACC Tourney (top 10 teams, they’re currently #9). And while they’re also currently unranked (barely) because of their 3 week rough patch preceding the FSU upset, their RPI can still be of use to us.
Make no mistake though, they’ll be motivated. They’ve still got a shot at hosting a regional, and they would also like to not have to play on ACC Tourney sudden death Tuesday (We’ll have an ACC Tourney format recap in the next couple weeks).
The Tiggs will likely not go down easy this weekend.
They don’t have particularly great starting pitching, but it’s not terrible. They do have a decent bullpen, the gem of which is long setup man Pat Krall (#36,JR,LHP). This big kid is a lot of fun to watch. At least when he’s not pitching against you. He’s 7-1, ERA 0.68, and he holds the opposition to .186 avg.
Offensively, they bat a respectable but far from great .273 as a team. On the other hand, they can score in bunches and hit for power with the best of them. We’ll have to limit base runners, including the freebies, and try to avoid their power guys.
So pretty much business as usual. No big secret what it’s gonna take. Bottom line, is we’re the better team, but it’s at their place sooooo….
What Missing Out on the Duke Sweep Means
Had the Pack not fallen short in their bid to sweep the Devils last weekend, a few interesting things to mention (my use of the word “interesting” is admittedly used loosely here)….
Pack’s current RPI of #8 would have been at #6 at the very least. It was #6 going into that game, so with a win it might even have jumped to #5. But the loss sent it back #8.
Pack’s conference record of 12-7 would instead be 13-6, moving them into a tie with Louisville for 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, and technically ahead by percentage points (which is what ACC Tourney seeding is based upon).
On the other hand, if not for some late inning heroics, we could very well have dropped the opener as well. Losing that series would not have been the national seed death knell, but it wouldn’t have been a plus either. And I did say beforehand that I would be happy with 2 of 3, so not gonna get greedy now.
As an aside, I will also be fine with 2 of 3 in Clemson (had to say it for mojo purposes).
Plus there was one good silver lining type of thing. By virtue of their one win and just in general playing a top ten RPI team (us, that is), Duke moved up into the top 50 of the RPI, giving us two more top 50 wins, presuming they can maintain it. Looking at their remaining schedule I’d say 50/50 shot. They’ll need to steal one from FSU at the DBAP next weekend in any case.
Sadly, we also lost 2 top 50 wins as Bama and somebody else (UNC-G?) dropped below that line.
Evan Mendoza was named ACC POW for the first time in his career this week…
Mendoza Wins Player of the Week (GoPack.com)
Lifting the No. 6 Wolfpack (31-12, 12-7 ACC) to a 3-1 week, Mendoza extended his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest for an NC State batter since Logan Ratledge hit safely in 21-straight during the 2015 campaign.
The sophomore third baseman hits .426 (23-for-54) during the streak with a double, two homers, and 12 RBIs.
Mendoza drove in four runs on two hits including the game-winning homer Monday against ECU, before a 2-for-4 performance on Friday night with a walk-off RBI single, scoring Preston Palmeiro to secure a series-opening win over Duke. Saturday in the series-clincher, Mendoza hit his second home run of the week and scored three times as the Pack rolled 12-2.
Not to be outdone, Andrew Knizner was named first team Academic All-District (take that Carolina Way)…
Knizner Named Academic All-District (GoPack.com)
First-team Academic All-District honorees advance to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.
The first-team recognition grants Knizner a place on the All-America ballot, seeking to become the third Academic All-American for the Wolfpack under Elliott Avent, joining Jason Smith and Jake Weber.
The junior catcher from Glen Allen, Va., hits .290 for sixth-ranked NC State, including four homers, 51 runs, and 22 RBIs. Knizner’s thrown out 12 baserunners, five in ACC play. He earned preseason third team All-America honors from Louisville Slugger.
In the classroom, Knizner boasts a 3.98 GPA in Industrial Engineering and a mention on the 2015 ACC Academic Honor Roll. Knizner also made the honor roll as a freshman in 2014.
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Games Schedule at Clemson
- Friday, May 6 – 6:30pm – ESPN3
- Saturday, May 7 – 4:00pm – ESPN3
- Sunday, May 8 – 1:00pm – ESPN3*
*This is Mother’s Day you thankless spawn. Go see your mother. Call her if seeing her isn’t possible. And then when she’s sick of you, go home and watch baseball.
Elsewhere in the ACC this Weekend (and Whom to root for)
Wake at BC – RPI wash for us mostly, Wake more of a threat, Go BC
Louisville at Carolina – God help me, I will NOT say it out loud.
Pitt at ND – Pitt definitely. Sorry ‘Dog.
Miami at GT – Not a huge impact, but we did win at GT so the better they look…
Bowling Green at FSU – Bowling Green winning even one is unlikely. But it would help.
Alcorn State at VT – Welcome to this weeks who cares?
Some Duke Highlights…
Mendoza had a good week…
Brett Kinneman is still a thing…
This one is gorgeous for baseball purists…plus DEATHERAGE!!!!
OK Pack 2 of 3 please. Unless you win the first two, then you better just go ahead and sweep. Just trying to help.