Who’s the Pack playing?
Mascot: Paladins | School Location: Greenville, SC | Conference: Southern
2018 Record: 3-1 (0-0, T-1st) | 2018 RPI Rank: N/A
2017 Record: 33-28 (14-10, T-3rd) | 2017 RPI Rank: 115
2016 Record: 29-30 (14-10, 4th) | 2016 RPI Rank: 134
When? Where? How do I watch?
Location: NC State’s Doak Field at Dail Park, Raleigh, NC
Game Time(s): Friday, Feb 23 @ 3:00pm | Saturday, Feb 24 @ 2:00pm | Sunday, Feb 25 @ 1:00pm
Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh
Live Stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/ncsu/baseball/
Tell me about this team
Furman is off to a 3-1 start to the season, sweeping Marist over the opening weekend (including two one-run victories) before dropping a 12-4 contest at Clemson on Tuesday. Marist, in case you were wondering, was ranked 252nd (out of 300) in RPI last year.
The Paladins do return six starters to their lineup from a year ago, plus another (Jason Costa) who pretty much played enough to be considered a starter. There’s plenty enough offensive power to make things go for this team, but pitching will be the difference maker as to the level of success for Furman in 2018.
The team lost their two best weekend starters and one of their top two bullpen arms from a season ago. Included in that group was by far their best overall pitcher Will Gaddis, a 3rd round pick of the Colorado Rockies. With Gaddis gone, an already weak pitching staff lost their one ace with no obvious replacement at the ready.
1B Brandon Elmy (SR) - 341.BA, .390 OBP, .559 SLG, 220 AB, 15 2B, 0 3B, 11 HR, 38 R, 49 RBI, 16 BB, 32 K, 0-0 SB in 2017. A 2nd Team All-SoCon selection in 2017, Elmy is off to a slow start thus far in 2018, hitting just .200 with 5 Ks (although two of his three hits have been for extra bases). A career .318 hitter, he’ll come around... hopefully starting midweek next week.
3B Jake Crawford (JR) - .309 BA, .323 OBP, .411 SLG, 207 AB, 11 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 32 R, 32 RBI, 5 BB, 24 K, 1-1 SB in 2017. His numbers last year weren’t overly impressive (although I’d argue that a 2.3% BB rate over 221 PA is impressive in its own right), but the dude is off to a blistering start in 2018: .538 BA, .583 OBP, .917 SLG, 12 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 R, 3 RBI, 0 BB (surprise), 2 K.
OF Landon Kay (SR) - .332 BA, .394 OBP, .550 SLG, 211 AB, 11 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 41 R, 37 RBI, 22 BB, 38 K, 7-9 SB in 2017. Kay may be off to the worst start of any player in baseball this year, as he’s 0-for-12 with 7 Ks to start the season. Ouch. The guy can mash, though, so best to stay out of his wheelhouse in case that bat decides to wake up.
OF Jabari Richards (JR) - .304 BA, .375 OBP, .482 SLG, 191 AB, 10 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 40 R, 30 RBI, 17 BB, 51 K, 4-8 SB in 2017. The 2016 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, 2016 SoCon Freshman-of-the-Year, and 2016 2nd Team All-SoCon selection and his bat have been roaring to start the year: .438 BA, .500 OBP, .750 SLG, 16 AB, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 R, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, 1-2 SB. This guy can hit, but can be prone to striking out at a high rate.
C Jason Costa (SR) - .318 BA, .404 OBP, .523 SLG, 132 AB, 12 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 25 R, 21 RBI, 12 BB, 22 K, 2-2 SB in 2017. Costa has moved from splitting duties at C last year to being the DH this year. So far that’s worked out. He’s slashing .400/.500/.933 with 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 R, and 6 RBI on the young season.
Potential impact newcomers OF Ben Anderson (FR), 3B Pat Sisk (FR), and SS Nick Tiano (FR). Anderson is the starting CF and leadoff hitter who has cooled off significantly after starting the year with two multi-hit games. Sisk and Tiano are reserves playing behind returning starters, but two players with bright futures.
LHP Grant Schuermann (RS-JR) - 7-4, 4.19 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .275 OBA, 96.2 IP, 105 H, 56 R, 45 ER, 11 BB, 60 K in 2017. In his first start of 2018, the Friday starter for the Paladins went 6.0 IP with 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 4 K.
RHP Heath Hawkins (JR) - 4-3, 2 SV, 4.07 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, .267 OBA, 48.2 IP, 52 H, 28 R, 22 ER, 15 BB, 46 K in 2017. Hawkins is a big 6’5, 225 lbs pitcher from Charlotte. He has yet to pitch this year, but is their best returning bullpen arm.
RHP Jake Crawford (JR) - 1-4, 4 SV, 6.33 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, .304 OBA, 27.0 IP, 34 H, 22 R, 19 ER, 10 BB, 17 K in 2017. Yeah, the same guy mentioned under offense, he’s a two-way player. Crawford was not an overly good pitcher last year, but did lead the team in saves. He’s transitioned to a weekend starter gig this year as Furman’s Saturday guy (which is why he’s on this list) and his first time out was a decent success, striking out 8 over 4.0 IP, but also surrendering 2 R (1 ER) on 4 H, 3 BB, and also uncorking a WP.
RHP Tyler Kimbrell (SR) - 1-1, 1 SV, 5.30 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .247 OBA, 18.2 IP, 19 H, 14 R, 11 ER, 5 BB, 17 K. Like Hawkins, Kimbrell is an imposing pitcher, standing in at 6’6 and 225 lbs. The former JUCO transfer should get more run this year than last, and is off to a solid start for 2018 with a 1-0 record in 2 appearances spanning 4.0 IP, allowing 5 H and 0 BB while striking out 8 batters.
One potential impact newcomer is LHP Matt Lazzaro (FR), who started the Sunday game on the mound in their opening series and is slated to start this Sunday against State.
Quick! Fun Facts!
Despite not being too far apart, NC State and Furman have only met nine times on the diamond, with the Paladins holding a 5-4 advantage.
NC State Pitching Coach Scott Foxhall was actually the college pitching coach of Furman Head Coach Brett Harker when they were at College of Charleston from 2003-2005.
Famed former Atlanta Braves Pitching Coach Leo Mazzone is a Special Assistant to the Furman baseball program. That’s a kinda nice card to just have in your back pocket.
There hasn’t been a run scored in the first inning of any of Furman’s games so far this year.
Furman first started playing baseball in 1891 and has an all-time record of 1,494-1,787-26.
Furman has made five NCAA Tournament appearances in school history, the most recent in 2005.
JR C/INF Bret Huebner definitely looks like the kind of guy who farts in crowded elevators...
I like State to take both of the first two games of the series in decently comfortable style. The Sunday tilt matching up freshman lefties (Matt Lazzaro for Furman, David Harrison for State) will be interesting. I believe State is the better overall team with a deeper lineup and more talent in the pitching staff, so I’m going to go with the Wolfpack to win the third game, too.