Who’s the Pack playing?
Opponent: Georgia Tech
Mascot: Yellow Jackets | School Location: Atlanta, GA | Conference: ACC
2018 Record: 12-9 (2-4, 6th Coastal) | 2018 RPI Rank: 49
2017 Record: 27-28 (11-19, 5th Coastal) | 2017 RPI Rank: 75
2016 Record: 38-25 (13-16, 4th Coastal) | 2016 RPI Rank: 22
When? Where? How do I watch?
Scheduling for this series is a little wonky with the teams trying to both predict and beat Mother Nature (ha!). There’s a double-header on Friday starting at 3:00pm, and then Game 3 of the series is a complete TBD. Could be Saturday... could be Sunday... could be some one-off midweek game later in the year... who knows?! Baseball! Weather! Yay!
Location: Doak Field at Dail Park, Raleigh, NC
Game Time(s): Friday, Mar 23 @ 3:00pm | Friday, Mar 23 @ 7:00pm | TBD @ TBD
Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh
Live Stats: Sidearm Sports
Tell me about this team
Georgia Tech’s offense has been an impressive group this year, with a collective .317/.395/.500 slash line. They do have a rather high 18.0% K Rate compared with a 10.0% BB Rate. The Yellow Jackets are not overly aggressive or effective at putting pressure on the base paths, either, having only been successful on 11 out of 18 stolen base attempts this year. They’re also not small-ball aficionados with 17 sacrifices in 21 games. Basically, Georgia Tech’s going to work to out-hit you and move their men around the bases when they put the ball in play. Pretty much just fill out the lineup card and hit simulate to see what it gets you.
Overall, this Georgia Tech pitching staff is one that’s been producing good enough starting pitching to get them late into games in positive scenarios and getting just enough out of it’s bullpen arms to hold onto games late. If State can force the Yellow Jackets to the bullpen early and often in this series, things are going to go State’s way; things drop off quickly after their top couple of guys.
The top four bullpen arms for the Yellow Jackets are all righties. Actually, the entire team is lacking heavily in the left-handed pitching department, with only four LHPs on the entire staff - three freshman and one sophomore. One of the lefties (Connor Thomas) is the Saturday starter and one (Brant Hurter) threw 82 pitches this past Tuesday in a midweek win over current RPI #1 Auburn. Of the other two lefties, one (Sam Crawford) hasn’t pitched at all this year and the other (Joseph Mannelly) has thrown only 2.2 innings and sports the highest ERA on the team. This is all good news for State’s lineup.
OF Chase Murray (JR) - .440 BA, .490 OBP, .595 SLG, 84 AB, 7 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 20 R, 16 RBI, 10 BB, 9 K, 2-3 SB. The Yellow Jackets’ leadoff hitter, Murray is night-and-day different from the player he was as a freshman in 2017, although he did play through an injury for the majority of that season, so maybe it wasn’t the debut it could have been. Either way, his numbers and his play this year, especially offensively, have been phenomenal. He’s bigger with more pop in his bat than NC State’s Stephen Pitarra, but he’s been a similar top-of-the-order OBP machine.
C Joey Bart (JR) - .367 BA, .469 OBP, .722 SLG, 79 AB, 4 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 20 R, 18 RBI, 12 BB, 17 K, 2-2 SB. Bart is one of the two big power hitters in the Rambling Wreck’s lineup. He’s always had pop in his bat, but so far this year has increased his BB rate while cutting down on his K rate. That’ll lead to success. A 2016 Freshman All-American and 2017 2nd Team All-ACC selection, he also leads the team with 4 HBP. Defensively, Bart’s gunned down 50% of attempted base stealers (5-of-10) and was named to a healthy number of preseason All-America team lists, as well as the preseason Johnny Bench Award watch list. If you’re looking for a reason to not like him, his brother played football at UNC.
1B/DH Tristin English (RS-SO) - .362 BA, .388 OBP, .585 SLG, 94 AB, 7 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 19 R, 29 RBI, 1 BB, 13 K, 1-1 SB. English was a Freshman All-American in 2016 before missing all of 2017 with Tommy John Surgery. Oddly enough, he’s now also pitching - you’d expect to see someone stop pitching after TJS, not start afterwards. He’s a heart-of-the-order hitter, as you could guess by his RBI numbers. Only registering 1 BB in 98 PA is impressive in all the wrong ways... which means he’ll walk about six times this weekend. Yeah, that’s on me.
1B/DH Kyle McCann (SO) - .348 BA, .516 OBP, .826 SLG, 46 AB, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 15 R, 13 RBI, 16 BB, 14 K, 1-1 SB. McCann has 15 career HR in just 167 AB... so, yeah, he has power. He also only hit .198 as a freshman last year, but every year’s a new year and this one he looks like a completely different player. He’s an impressive hitter, but not someone who’s going to leg-out many extra-base hits. Also plays some behind the plate for the Yellow Jackets.
2B Wade Bailey (SR) - .329 BA, .427 OBP, .390 SLG, 82 AB, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 23 R, 8 RBI, 12 BB, 8 K, 2-3 SB. A four year starter at second base, Bailey was named to one 2nd Team All-America team after 2017 and made his way onto a couple preseason All-America lists for this year. A solid all-around hitter who is actually better than his numbers indicate, he can hit anywhere in the lineup and will be a tough out every time up.
RHP Xzavion Curry (SO) - 4-0, 3.54 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .217 OBA, 28.0 IP, 23 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 8 BB, 28 K. Yes, I had to check four times to make sure I spelled his name correctly. Curry is the Friday starter for Georgia Tech, and will be taking the ball in Game 1 of the Friday double-header in this series. The sophomore was good but not great as a freshman in 2017, going 6-4 with a 5.23 ERA and a .293 OBA. Hitters are making far less frequent contact off Curry so far this year, but he has given up 6 HR in just 28.0 IP.
LHP Connor Thomas (SO) - 2-2, 1 SV, 3.34 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, .248 OBA, 29.2 IP, 28 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 2 BB, 31 K. Thomas is Georgia Tech’s Saturday starter, so he’ll get the nod in Game 2 of this series on Friday. He was a guy who struggled as a freshman last year (9 BB, 11.32 ERA in 10.1 IP), but has been a much more consistent pitcher this year. A lefty with good control could be a bad thing for State’s lineup. He got destroyed in his last outing (3.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R vs VT), but went 7.0 IP with 9 K (although he did allow 5 R) against Clemson in his prior start.
RHP Tristin English (RS-SO) - 0-0, 1 SV, 3.60 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, .270 OBA, 10.0 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. Yep, another two-way player that State’s going to face on the mound this year. As mentioned above, this is English’s first year pitching at the collegiate level, although he was a very good high school pitcher. As you’d expect for a pitcher coming off Tommy John Surgery, he’s being eased back into things on the mound. He made his first career start last Sunday against Virginia Tech, going 3.0 IP allowing 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, with 1 BB and 1 K. I would be shocked to see him throw more than 50-to-55 pitches in this one.
RHP Jared Datoc (SR) - 0-2, 2 SV, 1.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .246 OBA, 18.0 IP, 16 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 15 K. Datoc, along with Andy Archer, is one of the top two arms out of the bullpen for the Yellow Jackets. He has issued 40 BB and 8 HBP in 92.2 IP in his career, so some patience and working of him could pay off for State’s hitters. He’s a solid pitcher the staff is not afraid to run out there multiple days in a series.
RHP Andy Archer (SO) - 2-0, 0 SV, 0.59 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .246 OBA, 15.1 IP, 14 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 11 K. Archer missed most of last year with an injury, but he’s off to a stellar start this year. Nothing really special about what he does, but he’s effective and a solid relief pitcher.
RHP Jonathan Hughes (RS-SO) - 0-1, 0 SV, 3.48 ERA, 2.13 WHIP, .231 OBA, 10.1 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 13 BB, 8 K. Hughes was a 2nd round pick by the Orioles out of high school in the 2015 MLB Draft. He’s an incredibly talented pitcher who started 13 of 14 career appearances coming into this year, but has moved into a relief role due to some control issues (26 BB, 10 HBP, 11 WP in 36.2 IP over the last two seasons). Hughes FB sat in the mid-to-upper 90’s prior to his injury in 2016, but he’s now sitting in the low 90’s. For his own sake, I hope he can regain his velocity and control (you know, after this weekend), but he might end up being a “should have taken the money” case instead.
RHP Keyton Gibson (JR) - 2-0, 0 SV, 4.50 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .250 OBA, 12.0 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 6 BB, 9 K. Despite the control issues he’s had this year and throughout his career (59 BB, 13 HBP, 14 WP in 91.2 IP), Gibson is 2nd on the team in appearances this year. The kid has some definite plus velo, though.
Quick! Fun Facts!
The two teams have only one common opponent thus far in 2018: Clemson. The Yellow Jackets were swept in their series with the Tigers (3-2, 7-3, 13-2), while the Wolfpack swept the Tigers the weekend after the GT-Clemson games. Both series were played in Clemson, SC.
Georgia Tech leads the all-time series between the two schools 73-56.
The Yellow Jackets only have four players on their roster from outside of the state of Georgia, with one of those players being FR LHP Sam Crawford from, oddly enough, St. David’s School in Raleigh. Crawford, as mentioned above, has not played yet this year for Georgia Tech.
State takes Game 1 Friday, 8-3, and (if they can get it in) the third game of the series, 11-4. Connor Thomas does just enough to keep the Pack hitters off balance in Game 2 on Friday, with Georgia Tech squeaking out a 5-4 victory.
I’d feel more comfortable about Friday’s Game 2 if the always unpredictable TBA wasn’t getting the start and Georgia Tech wasn’t throwing a lefty who has had some success this year. With the possibility that the third game of the series doesn’t get played this weekend, I’m not sure why Brian Brown isn’t going to be starting the second game of the Friday double-header. Oh well.