Who’s the Pack playing?
Opponent: Bowling Green State University
Mascot: Falcons | School Location: Bowling Green, OH | Conference: Mid-American
2018 Record: 2-6 (0-0, T-1st) | 2018 RPI Rank: N/A
2017 Record: 15-34 (9-15, 3rd in East Division) | 2017 RPI Rank: 274
2016 Record: 16-37 (7-17, 5th in East Division) | 2016 RPI Rank: 262
When? Where? How do I watch?
Location: NC State’s Doak Field at Dail Park, Raleigh, NC
Game Time: Friday, Mar 2 @ 3:00pm
Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh
Live Stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/ncsu/baseball/
Tell me about this team
[WARNING: Kiss of Death Preview Ahead] The Bowling Green Falcons continue the onslaught of weak out-of-conference opponents in the early season for NC State. Bowling Green has been horrendously poor over the last two seasons, with a combined overall record of 31-71 and a total run differential across those two seasons of -286. Of course, every year is a new year, and the failures of the past won’t doom a team to failures of the future, but this is a team in the present that is not especially strong in any one area.
Offensively, the team as a whole is hitting .259 with 66 strikeouts and just 19 extra base hits in eight games. For comparison (a rather unfair one, maybe, given his destruction of baseballs in 2018), Brett Kinneman has ten extra base hits this season on his own. This team has three starters hitting under the .200 mark. No bueno.
Pitching has not exactly been a strong suit, either, with a combined staff ERA of 5.62 and a .296 opponents batting average. They’ve also issued 41 walks and plunked nine batters in 64.0 innings. And not to continue to pick on the Falcons, but the team has an overall .958 fielding percentage.
It’s not all doom-and-gloom as the team does have some talented players putting together solid campaigns. Let’s take a look at some of those guys.
DH Brad Croy (JR) - .357 BA, .400 OBP, .500 SLG, 14 AB, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 0-0 SB in 2018. Croy is primarily a pitcher who has received some ABs this year in the DH role and produced accordingly. Not sure if this is sort of the Tommy DeJuneas/Christian Demby flash in the pan to start the year like we saw last year for State, but the number indicate that he’s a threat.
1B Randy Righter (SR) - .313 BA, .324 OBP, .375 SLG, 32 AB, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 7 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 0-0 SB in 2018. Aside from his parents naming him as if he were born in jeans and a blazer holding a guitar at the County Music Awards, Righter is a talented RHH who slashed .301/.357/.482 with 17 2B and 6 HR last year. He’s a tough out.
C Jeff Scott (RS-JR) - .310 BA, .375 OBP, .552 SLG, 29 AB, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 3 R, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 9 K, 0-0 SB in 2018. Scott is having a much better 2018 season than his 2017 season where he slashed .235/.330/.359 with 7 2B and 4 HR with just 11 BB to 47 K, although he did wear 11 pitches. He’s a solid defensive catcher who gunned down 50% of would-be base stealers a year ago (but he is just 1-for-10 in that department this year).
SS Neil Lambert (JR) - .300 BA, .382 OBP, .433 SLG, 30 AB, 4 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 R, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 9 K, 3-4 SB in 2018. Lambert is a JUCO transfer who started his career at Arkansas State. The Falcons leadoff hitter is probably their greatest threat on the base paths and is also a solid glove in the field.
RHP Brad Croy (JR) - 0-1, 1 SV, 0.00 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, .233 OBA, 8.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 7 BB, 11 K in 2018. Yes, the Falcons DH is also their top bullpen arm. Croy struggled in 2017 with a 6.04 ERA and .332 OBA, but he’s found his grove so far in 2018. The control is still off with his 7 BB and 1 HBP in 8.0 IP, but he’s striking guys out at a much higher rate.
RHP Damon Egnor (SO) - 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, .000 OBA, 3.0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K in 2018. Another solid arm out of the pen for the Falcons. As you can tell from his numbers this year, and his 2017 numbers back up, Egnor could use some better control. His stuff is good and can be highly effective when he can locate his pitches.
RHP Zac Carey (SR) - 1-0, 6.94 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, .347 OBA, 11.2 IP, 17 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 2 BB, 5 K in 2018. The projected Friday starter against State for Bowling Green, Carey is a highly experienced pitcher having started 44 games over his career who will likely not be mentally rattled by the opponent or situation. Although he struggled as a sophomore and junior, and is off to a rough start as a senior, he was the MAC Freshman Pitcher-of-the-Year and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2015. He’s a contact pitcher with great control.
Quick! Fun Facts!
This is the first ever meeting on the diamond between the two programs.
The official website for the Mid-American Athletic Conference (or MAC for short) is www.getsomemaction.com. That is so glorious.
While NC State opens the season with 13 straight home games, Bowling Green opens the season with 15 consecutive away games; although they will play next weekend in - oddly enough - Bowling Green, Kentucky, against Western Kentucky. Same city name, wrong state.
While Orel Hershiser is the most famous Bowling Green baseball alum, the program has also produced 17 other players who have made it to the Major League level, including Johnny Antonelli (1948-1961), Doug Bair (1976-1990), Grant Jackson (1965-1982), and Roger McDowell (1985-1996).
The Bowling Green program has four NCAA Tournament appearances, most recently in 2013 when they made the tournament as the automatic bid thanks to winning the MAC Tournament title.
The program has an all-time overall record of 1,646-1,477-27.
JR 1B Anthony Smith looks like he got his mugshot pose and roster pose mixed up.
Bowling Green SR RHP Zac Carey, Friday’s projected starter, is a contact pitcher who has been getting hit around pretty well this year. This NC State team is probably not the team you want to face as a contact pitcher. Meanwhile, NC State SR LHP Brian Brown has been nothing but awesome through his first two starts of 2018 and is facing a team that is struggling a bit at the dish lately. I’m liking these match-ups for State.
I’ll take State by a final margin of 8-2.