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NC State Baseball - Opponent Preview: Air Force

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Meet the Falcons... They’re struggling so far this year

GoPack.com

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: US Air Force Academy

Mascot: Falcons | School Location: Colorado Springs, CO | Conference: Mountain West

2018 Record: 1-5 (0-0, T-1st) | 2018 RPI Rank: N/A

2017 Record: 25-26 (12-17, 5th) | 2017 RPI Rank: 202

2016 Record: 29-27 (12-18, 5th) | 2016 RPI Rank: 180


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: NC State’s Doak Field at Dail Park, Raleigh, NC

Game Time: Monday, Feb 26 @ 2:00pm

TV: ACC Network Extra

Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh

Live Stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/ncsu/baseball/


Tell me about this team

This Air Force team is just not that great, or at least that’s what the early returns are indicating. Off to an even-more-unimpressive-than-it-already-appears 1-5 start, the name of the game for the opposing teams this year has simply been “Don’t beat yourself”.

I’d love to write more, but this Air Force offense has been just bad. In six games, the team has struck out 67 times while only walking 18, and has managed a meager eight extra-base hits to go along with their .232 team batting average. They will attempt to push the envelope with aggressive base running when they do manage to get someone on, but that has been few and far between.

Pitching has not saved the anemic offense, either. The staff has a combined 6.22 ERA, issuing 36 BBs in 55.0 IP, with opponents hitting a robust .322 against them with 25 extra-base hits. Again, this team has played six games.

In positive news, Air Force has been solid defensively with a .983 team fielding percentage. So they have that going for them, which is nice.

Key Players:

Offense

C Rob Dau (JR) - .333 BA, .333 OBP, .500 SLG, 24 AB, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 7 K, 0-0 SB in 2018. .236 BA, .329 OBP, .368 SLG, 182 AB, 9 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 29 R, 34 RBI, 23 BB, 59 K, 0-2 SB in 2017. One of the few offensive bright spots for the Falcons this year, Dau is a decent hitter, but an impatient one. Chances are his final season numbers will end up closer to his career .237/.330/.350 slash line than what they are right now.

OF Daniel Jones (JR) - .292 BA, .357 OBP, .292 SLG, 24 AB, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 10 K, 0-1 SB in 2018. .369 BA, .446 OBP, .815 SLG, 65 AB, 6 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 25 R, 16 RBI, 6 BB, 15 K, 2-4 SB in 2017. Jones’ bat started coming alive in the weekend series with Navy.

OF Drew Wiss (JR) - .273 BA, .467 OBP, .364 SLG, 22 AB, 0 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 7 BB, 4 K, 6-6 SB in 2018. .357 BA, .447 OBP, .481 SLG, 154 AB, 13 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 39 R, 26 RBI, 20 BB, 40 K, 4-9 SB in 2017. Wiss is a lead-off hitting, on-base machine with some solid wheels. Shutting him down will be key.

1B Nic Ready (JR) - .231 BA, .310 OBP, .385 SLG, 26 AB, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K, 0-0 SB in 2018. .340 BA, .359 OBP, .591 SLG, 235 AB, 22 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 47 R, 53 RBI, 8 BB, 21 K, 2-3 SB in 2017. Ready was a beast in 2017. His inability to work pitchers and earn walks is his downfall, though.

SS Tyler Zabojnik (SR) - .185 BA, .214 OBP, .259 SLG, 27 AB, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 8 K, 0-0 SB in 2018. .366 BA, .433 OBP, .595 SLG, 232 AB, 23 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 52 R, 47 RBI, 23 BB, 48 K, 4-4 SB in 2017. Zabojnik is definitely in a funk right now. At least he’s not alone.

What doesn’t make sense is that the team returns four lineup starters from an offense that hit .344 as a team last year. Maybe the bats will come around eventually?

Pitching

LHP Ryan Holloway (SR) - 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, .048 OBA, 6.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K in 2018. 3-2, 3.83 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, .254 OBA, 47.0 IP, 45 H, 29 R, 20 ER, 34 BB, 54 K in 2017. Air Force’s top reliever in 2017, he threw 6.2 innings of 1-hit, scoreless relief yesterday. He won’t be involved in this one.

RHP Jake Gilbert (JR) - 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .167 OBA, 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K in 2018. 1-2, 9.55 ERA, 2.32 WHIP, .342 OBA, 27.1 IP, 39 H, 33 R, 29 ER, 24 BB, 21 K in 2017. Very erratic and wild last year, but so far this year has reigned in the control to be effective. He pitched 3.0 innings of shutout ball in relief yesterday to earn the first win of the season for Air Force. Needless to say, he won’t be involved in this contest.

RHP Nick Biancalana (SR) - 0-0, 1.08 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, .160 OBA, 8.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K in 2018. 5-3, 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, .358 OBA, 54.0 IP, 82 H, 60 R, 54 ER, 26 BB, 44 K in 2017. Pitched 4.2 innings of hitless, scoreless relief on Saturday, so he won’t be available for this game.

Seriously, it’s slim pickings among the Air Force pitchers. No idea who is going to start for them in this one, much less who’s going to come in for relief.


Quick! Fun Facts!

The US Air Force Academy is in it’s 62nd year playing baseball, with an overall record of 1,115-1,494-3.

The Falcons have only had seven players selected in the MLB Draft in their history; however, five of those have been in the last five drafts.

Air Force has made the NCAA Tournament eight times in program history, including twice (2012, 2013) under current head coach Mike Kazlausky. Prior to Kazlausky’s 2012 squad breaking through, the program hadn’t reached the postseason since 1969.

FR RHP Daniel Alperi is from Davidson, NC, the same hometown as NCSU RHP Johnny Piedmonte. Even though they won’t face off against each other in this contest, it must be neat for Alperi to suit up for a game against Piedmonte, what with his undoubtedly growing up hearing his grandparents tell stories about how as young kids they would watch Piedmonte pitch in high school in the area.


Prediction

NC State is hot right now; Air Force is most decidedly not. Factor in that the Falcons played a 16 inning game Sunday and I have a hard time predicting anything other than a sound NC State win. Wolfpack wins 14-1.