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Opponent Preview: UNC-Chapel Hill - Part Deux

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Meet the Tar Heels... They’re the type of people who reheat leftover fish in your office breakroom microwave

Baseball: World Baseball Classic Exhibion Game-Mexico at Arizona Diamondbacks
Yasmany Tomas showing what he thinks of the Tarheels
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: UNC-Chapel Hill, aka Bill Friday’s Sports and Diploma Emporium

Mascot: Crying Jordan

School Location: The center of a Williams-Sonoma store, NC | Conference: ACC

2018 Record: 28-13 (15-6, 1st Coastal) | 2018 RPI Rank: 8

2017 Record: 49-14 (23-7, 1st Coastal) | 2017 RPI Rank: 5

2016 Record: 34-21 (13-17, 5th Coastal) | 2016 RPI Rank: 19


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Doak Field at Dail Park, Raleigh, NC

Game Time(s): Friday, Apr 27 @ 6:30pm | Saturday, Apr 28 @ 6:30pm | Sunday, Apr 29 @ 1:00pm

TV: ACC Network Extra (Friday | Saturday | Sunday)

Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

Since it’s only been a handful of days since these two teams last met, a game that turned out pretty well, I’d recommend skipping on over to the initial preview for that game since much of it still applies.

In the 10 days since the Wolfpack downed their blue argyle clad ugly brothers from the west, the Tarheels have gone 4-0, sweeping Georgia Tech and downing a horrifically bad Western Carolina team (seriously, Western Carolina is 4-35 this year...). All four of those games were in Chapel Hill. The Tarheel bats came alive during that streak, averaging nine runs per game, while the pitching staff held their opponent to three or fewer runs in three of the four games.

The other big item that has occurred for UNC-Chapel Hill since the Wolfpack beat them ten days ago is that the Tarheels RS-SO closer, Josh Hiatt, has been suspended indefinitely due to “conduct detrimental to the team”. Hiatt was 2-1 with 3 saves and a 2.67 ERA, holding opponents to a .215 OBA in 30.1 IP with 37 K. His suspension is a big blow to the Tarheels bullpen as it takes away one of their five key relief arms.

Key Players:

Please refer back to the last UNC-Chapel Hill preview for more detailed player information.

Offense

1B Michael Busch (SO) - .318 BA, .457 OBP, .552 SLG, 154 AB, 6 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 40 R, 46 RBI, 34 BB, 18 K, 3-4 SB. Busch’s numbers have dipped a bit since we last saw him, but he’s still very dangerous.

3B Kyle Datres (JR) - .355 BA, .447 OBP, .512 SLG, 166 AB, 12 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 41 R, 24 RBI, 24 BB, 24 K, 9-11 SB. Datres has three stolen bases in the last four games, so apparently he’s up and decided to run a lot more. Still a very talented hitter, he’s one to worry about when he gets to the plate.

SS Ike Freeman (SO) - .311 BA, .409 OBP, .385 SLG, 135 AB, 4 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 31 R, 27 RBI, 20 BB, 13 K, 2-2 SB. Freeman has been locked in over the last four games, although he still looks exactly like what you’d expect a UNC baseball player to look like.

C Cody Roberts (JR) - .276 BA, .371 OBP, .385 SLG, 156 AB, 8 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 36 R, 29 RBI, 21 BB, 37 K, 3-7 SB. Nothing new to report on this dude. Had a couple good games, had a couple bad games.

2B Zach Gahagan (SR) - .253 BA, .348 OBP, .367 SLG, 150 AB, 5 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 27 R, 30 RBI, 20 BB, 37 K, 3-4 SB. Gahagan hasn’t done much lately, but he did knock a HR Sunday against Georgia Tech to at least keep his SLG% pretty even.

OF Dallas Tessar (RS-SO) - .292 BA, .384 OBP, .403 SLG, 72 AB, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 19 R, 9 RBI, 10 BB, 15 K, 3-3 SB. Tessar has been seeing more playing time of late after starting the season not really hitting well in a mainly reserve role. He’s been the Tarheels leadoff hitter, going 9-for-25 (.360 BA) over his last seven starts.

Pitching

RHP Cooper Criswell (JR) - 3-2, 2.66 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .219 OBA, 40.2 IP, 33 H, 16 R, 12 ER, 9 BB, 51 K. Criswell has been inserted into the UNC weekend rotation and will be the Friday night starter in this series. Last weekend, he shut down Georgia Tech, allowing just 1 R on 4 H and 1 BB in 7.0 IP with 5 K.

RHP Austin Bergner (SO) - 4-1, 4.53 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, .246 OBA, 47.2 IP, 44 H, 28 R, 24 ER, 24 BB, 51 K. UNC-Chapel Hill’s Saturday starter, Bergner’s a 6’4 draft-eligible sophomore with a lot of upside. As you can see from his numbers, he does have some control issues, walking a batter almost every other inning. He was really in top form in mid-to-late March, but April has not been his month, allowing 13 R (11 ER) in 15.0 IP with 6 XBH, 5 BB, 2 HBP, and 10 K. Some MLB team is going to fall in love with his plus FB and overall upside, though, and make him a high draft pick come June.

RHP Tyler Baum (SO) - 3-1, 4.42 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .244 OBA, 53.0 IP, 48 H, 30 R, 26 ER, 27 BB, 57 K. MLB scouts are jazzed about Baum’s potential for the 2019 MLB Draft, although he’ll need to show some better control before that time comes if he’s going to live up to his 1st round hype. The Tarheels Sunday starter really only has two pitches that project to the next level right now: a two-seam FB with good arm-side run and a very good curveball. He’s allowed 20 XBH and uncorked 10 WP in 10 appearances (all starts) this year.

RHP Rodney Hutchison (JR) - 3-1, 4.66 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .255 OBA, 38.2 IP, 38 H, 21 R, 20 ER, 11 BB, 35 K. Hutchison got the start against State last time these teams met, with the Wolfpack pounding him for 4 R in 3.1 IP. He’ll be coming out of the bullpen in this series.

RHP Josh Hiatt (RS-SO) - 1-1, 3 SV, 2.28 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .214 OBA, 27.2 IP, 21 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 9 BB, 35 K. A Freshman All-American selection by a number of publications last year, Hiatt is legit. This dude should be a high draft pick in this year’s draft. Has a splitter that’s downright dirty. Did get tattooed by Florida State earlier this year and by Virginia this past weekend. He gone!

RHP Brett Daniels (SR) - 6-0, 1 SV, 2.00 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .232 OBA, 45.0 IP, 38 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 19 BB, 46 K. Daniels, who has appeared in six of the last seven UNC-CH games, will probably be one of the arms called on to serve as the team’s closer now that Hiatt decided to go and get himself removed from the team. Although the more likely new closer for the Tarheels is...

RHP Joey Lancellotti (FR) - 2-3, 0 SV, 2.36 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, .164 OBA, 26.2 IP, 15 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 9 BB, 29 K. As I mentioned in the previous UNC-CH opponent preview, Lancellotti is really good. He has true closer-level stuff, even though his future is likely as a weekend starter in Chapel Hill.

LHP Caden O’Brien (FR) - 3-0, 0 SV, 2.81 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .184 OBA, 25.2 IP, 16 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 16 BB, 26 K. Well look who went and grabbed himself a pair of wins in the last 10 days! O’Brien is still the top lefty bullpen arm for UNC-CH, but his role is likely to expand now with Hiatt out.

RHP Taylor Sugg (JR) - 2-0, 0 SV, 5.13 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, .276 OBA, 26.1 IP, 29 H, 18 R, 15 ER, 14 BB, 26 K. The last and least productive - but still decently productive - of the UNC-CH bullpen arms, Sugg is likely to see his role increase in the last few weeks of the season. The junior is mainly a junk-ball type pitcher, relying heavily on a sinker and slider combo while also working in a change-up. His FB won’t miss many bats.


Quick! Fun Facts!

Again... There’s nothing fun about UNC-CH. They get no fun facts and they can like it.


Prediction

Errybody get pumped up: Johnny Piedmonte is set to return on Sunday! While I’m sure there’s to be some rust for the big guy, his return (if fully healthy - and maybe even if not) can only help to bolster State’s weekend rotation.

UNC-CH, as they’ve been known to do, is going to trot out some really talented pitchers this weekend. Unlike some of their stud pitchers of the past, these guys all have some flaws. NC State, as they’ve been known to do, is going to win some ball games, especially since this team is very capable of exposing the flaws of opposing pitchers.

I wouldn’t expect a ton of scoring for the whole weekend; heck, I’d be shocked if total runs for the weekend series eclipses 30. I also have a hard time guessing what’s going to happen in any one game as I think these two teams are pretty evenly matched, but I do like State to win the weekend series and keep the gravy train rolling!

GTHC