UNC Greensboro came into Tuesday's midweek game riding a five-game losing streak during which the Spartans yielded an average of 11 runs per game. The Spartans (9-10) got well against N. C. State (16-6), handing the Pack's previously unblemished bullpen their first loss of the season in an 8-5 extra-inning, come-from-behind win. State's bullpen entered the contest with a combined record of 11-0.
I do not have the energy to recap this suckfest, so read the game story here.
I do have a few observations/mini rants/facts/etcetera:
- I am convinced that lineup construction is overrated, yet I am also convinced that Elliot Avent is hurting a team that has enough trouble scoring runs without Trea Turner by continually burying Jake Fincher deep in the lineup.
- Fincher has batted leadoff just once since Turner went down (and reached base twice in that game). Against UNCG, Fincher batted fifth and went 3-for-6. He was the only Pack player with a multiple-hit game. And, with the bottom of the lineup racking up outs behind him, he did not score.
- Fincher has no power (0 home runs; .420 slugging percentage) but great on-base skills (.436 on base percentage) and speed (eight stolen bases). He should bat first, not fifth.
- Neither Ryan Wilkins nor Grant Sasser had allowed a run before the UNCG game; both had rough outings Tuesday. Wilkins has been the best Pack pitcher all season; if he is healthy, I cannot figure out why Anthony Tzamtzis (9.72 ERA) got the call over him to protect a lead this weekend.
- I hope Wilkins getting benched over the weekend did not negatively affect his confidence or piss him off to the extent that the result was the bed-pooping against UNCG.
- Speaking of soiling things, Logan Jernigan walked four batters in the opening frame against UNCG and once again failed to get out of the first inning.
- Jernigan has started five games this season yet only managed 14 innings pitched, an average of less than three innings per start. In those 14 innings he has walked 14 batters, hit a batter, and uncorked three wild pitches. The crazy thing: his ERA is 1.29. Despite the walks usually not coming around to score, one wonders how many more chances he is going to get.
- Brett Williams appears to be out of a job. He made only one start over the weekend and appeared only as a pinch hitter against the Spartans. Williams leads the team with nine stolen bases and is third on the team in home runs and RBI, so color me confused.
- Jake "Any Way On" Armstrong continued his ball magnet routine against the Spartans, getting hit by pitches twice. The plate straddler is up to 10 HBPs on the year, but he has work to do to catch Troy Marrow (NCCU) and Mike Warren (UTSA), who entered the week with the NCAA lead at 13.
- Half of Armstrong's 84 plate appearances have ended without the ball being put in play (17 strikeouts, 15 walks, 10 HBPs).
- N. C. State is 0-3 against the SoCon this season and has been outscored 38-20 in those losses.
- The Pack are averaging five runs a game without Turner after scoring just a shade under nine runs a game with him.
GoPack's game story erroneously states that N. C. State returns to action Friday in Charlottesville. Actually, the series starts Saturday and runs through Monday. Monday's game, a 6 p.m. start, will be televised on ESPNU.