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Opponent Preview: James Madison

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Meet the Dukes... They’re a program that needs some help

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Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: James Madison

Mascot: Dukes | School Location: Harrisonburg, VA | Conference: Colonial Athletic

2018 Record: 21-23 (6-12, T-7th) | 2018 RPI Rank: 162

2017 Record: 24-27 (7-17, T-7th) | 2017 RPI Rank: 240

2016 Record: 24-31 (13-11, 4th) | 2016 RPI Rank: 178


When? Where? How do I watch?

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

Game Time: Tuesday, May 8 @ 6:00pm | Wednesday, May 9 @ 3:00pm

TV: ACC Network Extra (Tuesday | Wednesday)

Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

Parallels could be drawn between James Madison and the team NC State just finished up with this past weekend, William & Mary. Both teams are Colonial Athletic Association programs, currently dwelling near the bottom of that conference and in the midst of rebuilding efforts (James Madison’s is definitely more intensive). The strength of both teams lies on the mound, while their respective offenses have struggled to carry their weight in 2018.

James Madison has a relatively young, yet successful, baseball program, having begun play in 1970. Over the first 28 years of the program’s history, the Dukes posted an overall record of 811-436-5, including a 1983 College World Series appearance under Brad Babcock, the man leading the program for 19 of those 28 seasons. Enter Spanky McFarland. McFarland put himself together some really good seasons at James Madison, winning the CAA regular season title four times (2002, 2006, 2010, 2011) and the CAA Tournament twice (2008, 2011). Unfortunately, the last four years of McFarland’s tenure saw him go 76-134-2 with decreasing CAA win totals in each successive season.

It’s been just three years since McFarland left the dugout in Harrisonburg, but the results thus far don’t exactly instill much confidence that the program appears to be on the correct trajectory for a rebound to its former glory. Current coach Marlin Ikenberry, unfortunately, doesn’t have the track record to make you believe he’s the guy to lead them there, either. Nothing of Ikenberry’s previous experience (11 years at VMI, 282-307-1) or his time thus far at James Madison would indicate that he can make it happen, but then again, sometimes it takes a while as a head coach to figure out how to make it work and a few years to put that plan in action.

The leaders of the offense - even if it is under-performing (.252/.348/.372 team slash line) - are primarily underclassmen, with two freshman and two sophomores among the top five hitters on the team. The pitching staff (3.71 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .253/.340/.353 opponent slash line) has only three seniors (one weekend starter, one top reliever, one lighter-used reliever) and no “hey-hey, pick me!” draft-eligible arms, so the hope is very much alive for an even better 2019 on the bump.

Key Players:

Offense

2B Fox Semones (SO) - .287 BA, .337 OBP, .476 SLG, 164 AB, 8 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 27 R, 27 RBI, 10 BB, 51 K, 6-8 SB. Even though he leads the team in home runs, Semones is actually the Dukes leadoff hitter. Started 34 games as a freshman in 2017, slashing .316/.365/.441 while earning Freshman All-America, CAA All-Rookie Team, and CAA Third Team All-Conference honors.

OF Adam Sisk (SR) - .280 BA, .376 OBP, .440 SLG, 168 AB, 8 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 29 R, 27 RBI, 19 BB, 46 K, 9-14 SB. The 2017 2nd Team All-CAA selection has started all but one game over the last three years for the Dukes. Has a career slash line of .288/.392/.466 with 35 2B, 21 HR, 122 R, 94 RBI, and 39 SB.

SS Josh Jones (FR) - .291 BA, .365 OBP, .371 SLG, 151 AB, 7 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 19 R, 18 RBI, 16 BB, 33 K, 8-9 SB. Jones is very polished for a freshman college shortstop and has produced hitting from the 3 hole in the lineup.

1B/C Michael Morgan (FR) - .294 BA, .383 OBP, .361 SLG, 119 AB, 5 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 15 R, 12 RBI, 16 BB, 26 K, 0-2 SB. Not a lot on Morgan, but he’s obviously doing pretty dang well for a freshman.

Pitching

RHP Michael Bechtold (RS-FR) - 1-1, 0 SV, 2.95 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, .267 OBA, 21.1 IP, 23 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 7 BB, 14 K. Tuesday starter. Actually made four starts (five total appearances) a year ago before redshirting, going 1-3 with a 4.35 ERA.

LHP Garrett Richards (JR) - 0-1, 1 SV, 2.70 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, .333 OBA, 23.1 IP, 29 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 7 BB, 15 K. Wednesday starter. The JUCO transfer has been more of a reliever than a starter this year. His impressive JUCO numbers (10-1, 2.24 ERA, 102 K in 76.1 IP in 2017) haven’t translated to D1 ball yet, but he has the potential to be a shutdown pitcher.

RHP Nick Robertson (RS-FR) - 0-1, 3 SV, 1.74 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, .197 OBA, 20.2 IP, 15 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 10 BB, 29 K. The 6’6, 245 lbs righty hasn’t allowed a run since March 4 (vs Fordham).

RHP Matt Colon (SR) - 1-1, 2 SV, 2.79 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, .229 OBA, 19.1 IP, 16 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 10 BB, 19 K. The 6’3, 275 lbs big boy former JUCO transfer leads the team in appearances. He’s very effective with his somewhat odd release.

RHP Matt Marsili (JR) - 1-2, 1 SV, 2.79 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .186 OBA, 19.1 IP, 13 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 12 BB, 22 K. Marsili is better than his numbers indicate.

RHP Shelton Perkins (RS-SO) - 3-1, 0 SV, 3.28 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, .253 OBA, 24.2 IP, 24 H, 13 R, 9 ER, 12 BB, 31 K. From Leland, NC. Went to North Brunswick HS, then spent a redshirt year at East Carolina before going to Pitt CC for a year before ending up at James Madison. Kid has some talent.

RHP Dan Goggin (JR) - 4-3, 1 SV, 4.86 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, .275 OBA, 37.0 IP, 39 H, 26 R, 20 ER, 15 BB, 36 K. The JUCO transfer has made 5 starts this year. He didn’t really start pitching until he went to Cumberland CC, but he’s obviously taken to it pretty well.


Quick! Fun Facts!

Common opponents: George Mason, William & Mary, UNC-Wilmington.

  • James Madison split a pair of games against George Mason (2-1 W away, 1-7 L home) while NC State beat the Patriots 3-2 in their only meeting.
  • Both JMU and NC State swept home weekend series against William & Mary (JMU won their games 15-3, 5-4, 4-3).
  • James Madison was swept in a home weekend series by UNC-W (4-5, 6-7, 2-5) while the Wolfpack took down the Seahawks on the road in their only match-up, 8-3.

Despite being not overly far from each other, the two programs have only met four times (most recently in Myrtle Beach in 2010), with the series being tied 2-2.

No, I can’t find anything indicating that FR RHP Justin Showalter is related to Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Yeah, disappointing.


Prediction

NC State takes both games of the midweek series, one game is a low-scoring affair, the other one is a slugfest.