N.C. State Busts Out the Walking Stick Against Youngstown State

Seems like the Irish Classic should involve cricket, but apparently it's a baseball tournament hosted by Notre Dame...in North Carolina. - Tom Shaw

Meanwhile, the women walked off (with a mercy rule win) to sweep UVa.

The Irish Classic featured some name programs--defending NCAA champion UCLA, Michigan, and Notre Dame--though the latter two have never consistently had baseball success to match what they've done in revenue sports. Michigan was a power in the late 70s and 80s, but the Wolverines haven't made the CWS since 1984 or even the postseason since 2008. The Irish have made two trips to the CWS, the last one in 2002, but haven't made so much as a regional since 2006.

Still, they are name programs in the "these schools are known to everyone" sort of way. And then there's Youngstown State. The Penguins, because of course penguins are so prevalent in Ohio, are not a name program, and they are not particularly good at baseball.

Exhibit A of this fact: Penguin pitcher Nic Mannuppelli, who was neither able to man up nor throw very many strikes in Sunday's Irish Classic matchup with N.C. State. Dude walked the first four batters he faced en route to surrendering 13 runs (10 earned) in 4.2 innings pitched. The Pack (9-2) would go on to win 16-1.

Brad Stone (2-0) was the beneficiary of the barrage; he worked five scoreless innings, scattering three hits and fanning four. The bullpen was a bit shaky behind the sophomore lefty, but just one of the 11 base runners they allowed in four innings managed to score. Ryan Williamson and Cory Wilder made their debuts from the pen. Williamson yielded a pair of hits but escaped unscathed in his inning of work. Wilder was charged with a run after giving up a couple hits and walking and hitting a batter. He was only able to get two outs. Will Gilbert came on with the bases loaded and bailed Wilder out before more damage was done.

Plenty of Pack players had potent days at the plate, led by Andrew Knizner's 3-for-5, three-RBI performance. Knizner launched his first career home run and finds himself with a robust 1.017 OPS through the first 11 games of his college career. It may be time to move the young man up in the order.

Bubby Riley also contributed to the many Pack rallies, going 2-for-3 and driving in three runs. The JUCO transfer is off to a .286/.400/.381 start to his State career and is second on the club with eight RBI.

From the numbers is bullshit category, Logan Ratledge leads State with 10 RBI despite having just seven hits. To put that in perspective, there have only been seven major league seasons with 150 or more plate appearances that saw a batter put up more RBI than hits, and one player is responsible for four of those seasons. (Free lifetime subscription to BTP if you can name that player in the comments.) Chances are that Rat's hit-to-ribbie rate will decline precipitously as the season unfolds.

With Williamson and Wilder toeing the rubber, Cody Beckman, Brian Donovan, Karl Keglovits, Travis Orwig, Johnny Piedmonte, Will Raynor, and Luke Voiron are the only members on the roster yet to see action. Orwig and Piedmonte are rehabbing injuries. Kegs and Voiron kind of surprise me, though it's entirely possible that they are not 100% physically (but I haven't seen anything to confirm that).

After a midweek game against North Carolina A&T, the Pack will welcome the Irish to the ACC with a three-game set at the Doak next weekend. All four games will be televised on the Ocho.

***

The women's softball team swept Virginia over the weekend to extend its winning streak to seven games. Emily Weiman worked every inning and did not walk a single batter. Chelsea Tate had a big weekend with two home runs and went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI in the series finale. She's up to a .250/.349/.472 slash line after a slow start.

Lana Van Dyken reached base twice in three trips to the plate Sunday and has a ridiculous .581 OBP in the early going. To further the numbers is bullshit theme, Van Dyken has 14 hits on the year and a grand total of one RBI. Logan Ratledge she ain't.

The Pack will face considerably tougher opposition--Virgina is 2-14--in a midweek doubleheader against USC Upstate. The Spartans are 19-0, including 3-0 against ACC competition, and junior slugger Shellie Robinson has dropped 10 bombs already this season. As a team, the Spartans have out-homered opponents 26-4. USC-Upstate has three solid pitchers that have combined for a 0.99 ERA.

The ladies continue what will be an 11-game home stand when they entertain Pittsburgh over the weekend. The Panthers, who haven't begun ACC play yet, are just 8-8 but didn't embarrass themselves in losses to #1 Tennessee and #2 Oklahoma.

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