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2019 NC State Baseball Preview - Part IV: Non-Conference Opponents

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With opening day quickly approaching, let’s take a look at the non-conference opponents for the 2019 Wolfpack Baseball team

GoPack.com

Let’s take a look at the 2019 NC State Baseball team and begin to get a feel for the squad that will kick off their season at home against Bucknell on Friday, February 15, at 3:00pm.

In Part I of this series, we took a look back at the 2018 season and the players who are no longer with the program.

In Part II, we took a look at who all is back from that 2018 team.

Part III took a look at the fresh new faces of the 2019 squad.

Part IV will take a look at the out-of-conference portion of the schedule and some of the opponents on deck for the Wolfpack this season.

Part V will take a look at the ACC opponents who will compete on the diamond versus the Wolfpack this year.

And if I can get the band back together, maybe we’ll do a nice little BTP roundtable. I don’t know! I don’t know if we’ll have enough time!

On to Part IV...

Non-Conference Opponents

(For a look at the schedule, head on over to GoPack.com)


Bucknell

Conference: Patriot

Game Dates: February 15, 16, 17

2018 Record: 17-27-1 (13-11-1) | 2018 RPI: 214

Brief Outlook:

Bucknell is a team that can hold its own in the Patriot League, but typically struggles outside of it. This is not a team that hits a ton of long balls; they only hit 14 total as a team in 2018 (for comparison, NC State’s Evan Edwards and Will Wilson had 15 HR last year... each!), although they do return 92.8% of that production, so they have that going for them, which is nice. Sophomore Utility player Dominic Toso (.284/.383/.459, 15 2B), JR OF JohnPaul Bell (.250/.333/.445, 5 HR), JR 2B/SS Evan Madigan (.290/.348/.393, 10 2B), and JR 1B/OF Luke Hartman (.256/.447/.336, 41:24 BB:K) will lead the offense. Unfortunately for the Bison, the ace of the 2018 pitching staff graduated (Connor Van Hoose, 8th round MLB Draft pick) and there’s only one proven effective arm returning, SR RHP Jeff Gottesman (5-4, 2.85 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .217 OBA). Gottesman is a very good pitcher, although not a strikeout guy, but the rest of the staff after him is a huge question mark filled with unknown players and guys who haven’t done well in the past.

2019 Projected Record: 19-23 (12-15)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: No


Elon

Conference: Colonial Athletic (CAA)

Game Dates: February 19, March 26

2018 Record: 36-23 (16-8) | 2018 RPI: 110

Brief Outlook:

Redshirt-Junior SS Cam Devanney (.287/.411/.433, 5 HR, 30:24 BB:K), JR 1B Joe Satterfield (.268/.357/.376, 43 RBI), SO C Matt Oldham (.253/.327/.346, 11 2B), and JR UTIL Garrett Stonehouse (.268/.366/.363, 33 R, 38 RBI) return to lead an offense that loses four starters from 2018, including its two best hitters and two best base stealers. On the mound, Elon is led by one of the best pitchers in all of college baseball, JR RHP Kyle Brnovich (8-2, 1.71 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .159 OBA, 147 K, 105.0 IP). Thankfully for NC State, this match-up is a midweek affair, so the chances that the Wolfpack has to deal with Brnovich are very slim. Same goes for fellow weekend starter JR RHP George Kirby (10-3, 2.89 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, .256 OBA). Pitching will carry Elon in 2019, but the real question will be if the offense can carry its own weight to make the team an NCAA postseason-caliber squad.

2019 Projected Record: 29-25 (16-8)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Maybe


Kent State

Conference: Mid-American (MAC)

Game Dates: February 22

2018 Record: 39-18 (19-8) | 2018 RPI: 59

Brief Outlook:

Kent State had a great 2018 season, winning the MAC Regular Season and Tournament Championships. They’ve decided to come out of the gate with an incredibly difficult schedule, with their first five games being against Dallas Baptist, NC State, and Coastal Carolina - all top 25-caliber teams. SR 3B Pavin Parks (.285/.458/.520, 11 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR), SO 2B Greg Lewandowski (.272/.358/.354, 6 2B), SR SS Josh Hollander (.231/.295/.312, 8 XBH) return to provide what should be a solid defensive infield, but the offense loses five starters from a year ago, including the entire outfield. SO OF Nick Elsen (.353/.429/.553, 6 2B, 3 HR) should step into one of the OF spots, while SR C Pete Schuler (.272/.363/.447, 9 2B, 3 HR) and SO C Michael Turner (.280/.370/.346, 14:16 BB:K) should split time behind the plate. On the mound, the Golden Flashes lose their entire weekend starting rotation, including Joey Murray, an 8th round MLB Draft pick by the Blue Jays. Several top relievers return, though, led by SO LHP Collin Romel (0-0, 7 SV, 1.45 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, .206 OBA) and JR RHP John Matthews (1-1, 3 SV, 2.51 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, .188 OBA). Matthews could factor into the weekend rotation along with SR LHP Connor Wollersheim (5-2, 1 SV, 4.02 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .235 OBA), the team’s midweek starter from a year ago.

2019 Projected Record: 36-19 (19-8)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Yes


Michigan State

Conference: Big Ten

Game Dates: February 23

2018 Record: 20-32 (11-12) | 2018 RPI: 193

Brief Outlook:

JR OF Danny Gleaves (.272/.336/.316, 25 SB), JR OF Bryce Kelley (.271/.336/.312, 6 2B, 33 SB), JR 2B/SS Justin Antoncic (.269/.360/.346, 7 2B, 14 SB), and SR 3B Marty Bechina (.247/.340/.418, 9 2B, 6 HR) return to a lineup that features plenty of speed, but not much power. FR OF Zaid Walker is a big-time recruit for Michigan State and should be a starter right away in an offense that needs a lot of help. RS-SO RHP Mason Erla (6-4, 3.73 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .216 OBA) is the lone weekend rotation returner, but JR LHP Mitchell Tyranski (2-2, 5 SV, 2.42 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .227 OBA) and JR RHP Mike Mokma (2-5, 4.66 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .266 OBA) should also factor into starting roles in some fashion. Tyranski was a top relief arm last year, while Mokma was a reliever and midweek starter for the Spartans. JR RHP Indigo Diaz was a JUCO stud last year at Iowa Western (65.0 IP, 35 H, 20 BB, 101 K) and should be a weekend rotation starter from day one, if not the team ace, and FR RHP Colten Panaranto should factor into the bullpen immediately.

2019 Projected Record: 24-32 (10-17)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: No


Coastal Carolina

Conference: Sun Belt

Game Dates: February 24, April 10

2018 Record: 43-19 (23-7) | 2018 RPI: 25

Brief Outlook:

Coastal will be the first team on NC State’s 2019 schedule which should exceed their 2018 performance, which is pretty incredible when you look at what they did a year ago. This Chanticleers squad returns a lot of experience and production, led by SO OF Parker Chavers (.323/.435/.498, 15 2B, 7 HR, 9 SB), SR 1B/DH Zach Biermann (.302/.419/.561, 14 2B, 13 HR), JR 2B and Raleigh native Cory Wood (.296/.435/.390, 19 2B, 17 SB), and SR OF Kieton Rivers (.285/.380/.453, 15 2B, 5 HR, 10 SB). RS-JR C Kyle Skeels (.301/.382/.538, 7 2B, 5 HR) is also back to provide some experience and pop from the backstop. FR INF Nick Lucky, a 2018 14th round pick by the Red Sox, is a name to watch out for. On the mound, JR LHP Anthony Veneziano (7-1, 3.81 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, .229 OBA) and SO RHP Zach McCambley (3-0, 3.14 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .241 OBA) are back as members of the weekend rotation. SR RHP Matt Eardensohn (7-0, 6 SV, 2.18 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, .188 OBA) and RS-JR LHP Jay Causey (2-2, 5 SV, 2.28 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .205 OBA) are back to bolster what should be a deep bullpen. RS-SR RHP Bobbly Holmes (Tommy John Surgery) and RS-JR LHP Austin Kitchen (knee) return after missing last year due to injury. Both were integral pieces of the Chanticleers bullpen over the last several years. A trio of highly-touted freshman arms should contribute immediately, too. LHP Garrett McDaneils should compete for a weekend rotation gig, while RHPs Jacob Maton and Rhett Daniels will add depth to the bullpen.

2019 Projected Record: 41-15 (23-7)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Yes


Campbell

Conference: Big South

Game Dates: February 27, May 7

2018 Record: 35-26 (21-6) | 2018 RPI: 109

Brief Outlook:

Campbell is a team that took a while to hit its stride last year, then got hot at the end and rode that wave to a Big South Tournament championship. RS-JR OF/LHP Matthew Barefoot (.364/.484/.585, 18 2B, 8 HR, 23 HBP, 33 SB), SO C Ty Babin (.255/.349/.315, 3 3B, 6 SB), SR 1B/3B Tyler Anshaw (.245/.352/.364, 11 2B, 9 SB, 16 SAC - JT Jarrett is unimpressed), SR SS Louis Giminez (.242/.333/.295, 23 SB), and SR C Zach Minnick (.222/.296/.359, 9 2B, 6 HR) all return to the starting lineup. The Camels will have to replace a lot of production, though, including power-hitting 2B Christian Jones and his 20 HR, as well as Jeff Hahs. SR RHP Michael Horrell (6-4, 3.75 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, .256 OBA) is the only returning player with substantial starting pitching experience. Barefoot is a candidate for an expanded role pitching, with a starting gig not out of the question. SR RHP Tyson Messer (0-2, 8 SV, 4.72 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 191 OBA) is the lone returning bullpen member who has produced at a high level. Even with Messer returning, the bullpen will have to replace its top two arms in Harry Thomas (graduation) and Logan Bender (transfer). Bender, an NC State signee currently at Catawba Valley CC, was the 2018 Big South Freshman-of-the-Year winner, a 1st Team All-Big South member, and Freshman All-American last year. To counter the major losses in production both in the lineup and on the mound, the Camels brought in a whopping 15 JUCO transfers this year.

2019 Projected Record: 24-29 (15-12)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: No


Minnesota

Conference: Big Ten

Game Dates: March 1, 2, 3

2018 Record: 43-15 (18-4) | 2018 RPI: 12

Brief Outlook:

The Minnesota program has had a meteoric rise over the last several years. After being a perennial sub-100 RPI team for the better part of a decade, the Gophers made the jump to 50th in 2016, 72nd in 2017, and then the huge jump up to 12th last year, making a Super Regional before being eliminated by eventual national champions Oregon State. On offense, SR OF Ben Mezzenga (.383/.466/.447, 8 2B, 12 SB), JR C Eli Wilson (.289/.379/.428, 9 2B, 5 HR), RS-JR INF/OF Jordan Kozicky (.271/.373/.422, 13 2B, 5 HR), and SR C/1B Cole McDevitt (.271/.395/.452, 9 2B, 9 HR, 40 BB) return to form a solid nucleus, but the Gophers lose five starters, including three of their most productive hitters. 2B/SS Zack Raabe and All-Name Team candidate OF Otto Grimm are two freshman to watch. SO RHP Patrick Fredrickson (9-0, 1.86 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, .209 OBA) and SR LHP Nick Lackney (4-2, 5.48 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .285 OBA) return to man their roles as weekend rotation starters. Fredrickson was the 2018 Big Ten Pitcher-of-the-Year and a Freshman All-American. In the bullpen, Minnesota returns their impact closer, SO RHP Max Meyer (2-3, 16 SV, 2.06 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, .163 OBA), as well as key arms in JR RHP Brett Schulze (9-0, 2.09 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .270 OBA) and RS-JR LHP Jeff Fasching (2-0, 1.90 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .239 OBA). The Gophers won’t have the same level year they did last season, but they’ll still be good enough to challenge in the Big Ten.

2019 Projected Record: 32-19 (17-10)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Yes


NC Central

Conference: MEAC

Game Dates: March 6

2018 Record: 28-24 (12-14) | 2018 RPI: 226

Brief Outlook:

Central is a competitive MEAC program, but typically struggles when stepping out of conference play against bigger opponents. The Eagles graduated quite a bit of experience from last year’s team, but do return JR 2B Corey Joyce (.358/.456/.542, 15 2B, 6 HR, 27 SB) and JR OF Carter Williams (.307/.407/.521, 13 2B, 5 3B, 6 HR, 12 SB). Both Joyce and Williams were Freshman All-Americans in 2017 and followed those performances up with solid 2018 campaigns. Joyce, in particular, had a stellar 2018, being named the MEAC Player-of-the-Year. JUCO 1B Vinny Bailey, JUCO OF Josh Brammell, and FR OF Nick Fajardo should step in and contribute immediately. SR RHP Chris Kernan (5-4, 2 SV, 2.85 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .228) is the top returning arm and should be the Friday starter for the Eagles. RS-SR LHP Justice Sampson (2-4, 6 SV, 3.95 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, .271 OBA) also returns, but the pitching staff loses four of its top arms. FR RHPs Ryan Miller, Jonathan Peacock, and Brett Pope should get an opportunity for innings early.

2019 Projected Record: 19-35 (10-14)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: No


Charlotte

Conference: Conference USA

Game Dates: March 12

2018 Record: 34-24 (17-13) | 2018 RPI: 80

Brief Outlook:

Charlotte is a solid program with back-to-back 34-24 campaigns. RS-SR C Harris Yett (.323/.395/.438, 8 2B, 6 HR, 24:23 BB:K), JR OF Todd Elwood (.316/.397/.346, 4 2B, 5 SB), RS-JR OF Drew Ober (.286/.325/.393, 11 2B, 4 HR, 16 SB), RS-SR 1B/OF Dominick Cammarata (.265/.352/.470, 13 2B, 8 HR), and SR 2B Tommy Bullock (.259/.349/.361, 12 2B, 25:30 BB:K) all return to what should be a productive 2019 unit. The 49ers hope that the Pitt CC connection again provides immediate dividends in the form of JR OF Patrick Wheeler (Bullock and Cammarata both came from Pitt CC). Fellow JUCO OFs Carson Johnson and Austin Lynch should content for immediate playing time. JUCO 1B Rafi Vazquez should force his bat into the lineup somehow. JR RHP Matt Brooks (3-7, 5.35 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, .298 OBA) and SR LHP Joey Cooner (3-5, 5.43 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, .282 OBA) return two-thirds of the 2018 weekend rotation, but the 49ers will have a big task in replacing staff ace Josh Maciejewski. SR RHP Chase Gooding (4-2, 4.34 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, .246 OBA) is a prime candidate to join the weekend rotation; unfortunately for Charlotte, if Gooding moves into a starting role, the bullpen will lose all their effective arms from a year ago. Relief innings will be widely available. FR RHP Will Palinkas (a big frame kid with a lot of potential) and JR RHP Ryan Czanstkowski (a transfer from the same JUCO as Johnson) are two arms to keep an eye on.

2019 Projected Record: 29-25 (15-15)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: No


George Mason

Conference: Atlantic 10

Game Dates: March 13

2018 Record: 29-27 (16-8) | 2018 RPI: 174

Brief Outlook:

The Patriots lose three of the their top offensive producers from a year ago. JR C/OF Logan Driscoll (.343/.407.473, 13 2B, 4 HR, 10 SB, 23:25 BB:K), SR 1B/3B Greg Popatak II (.282/.408/.497, 15 2B, 5 HR), SR 2B/SS Alejandro Aponte (.269/.354/.313, 25:20 BB:K), and RS-SR OF Brady Acker (.282/.382/.452, 7 2B, 4 HR) all return to provide a solid foundation to the lineup. SO JUCO transfer OF Cam Reckling should contend for a starting gig. On the mound, JR RHP Jared DiCesare (6-5, 1 SV, 3.33 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .223 OBA) and SR LHP Brian Marconi (5-1, 4.70 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, .260 OBA) return the most starting experience on the team and should form two-thirds of the weekend rotation. DiCesare, for those who may remember, tossed a gem (7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 8 K) against NC State last year in a mid-week near-upset. SO RHPs James Price (2-0, 5.96 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, .240 OBA) and Austin Cabone (0-1, 4.76 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, .275 OBA) return to provide some depth and starting options, but both players will need to make strides in their second years if the Patriots hope to stave off a drop in performance. JR JUCO-transfer RHP James Beasley should grab innings in at least a bullpen role, if not more. FR RHP Nick Zegna and FR LHP Nate Young are two intriguing arms to watch.

2019 Projected Record: 32-24 (13-11)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: No


Towson

Conference: Colonial Athletic (CAA)

Game Dates: March 19

2018 Record: 13-42 (6-18) | 2018 RPI: 273

Brief Outlook:

The bad news for Towson’s lineup? Of the ten players who logged more than 100 PAs last year, only three return. The good news? On a 13-42 team, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Really only one of those guys was outstanding. The Tigers return Charlotte native RS-SO 2B/SS Dirk Masters (.229/.357/.250, 27:29 BB:K), SR 3B Richard Miller (.225/.298/.444, 8 2B, 7 HR), and SR C Trey Martinez (.196/.297/.250, 6 2B), but as you can see from those numbers, aside from Miller’s power, that’s not very promising. There are more returnees on the pitching staff, but it’s not looking much better. The Tigers lose their top two starting pitchers from a year ago, including one of only two guys on the entire team to post a sub-5.00 ERA on the year. SR RHPs Dean Stramara (2-1, 1 SV, 3.94 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .305 OBA) and Gavin Weyman (0-7, 1 SV, 5.33 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, .274 OBA) are the top two returning arms. Towson needs help, y’all, and to try and combat that they’ve brought in 11 freshman and 10 transfers. That’s 21 new faces on a roster of 35. Of those new faces, grad transfer SR 3B Zach Piazza should be the best. 6’7 FR RHP Dallas Repine should be a good pitcher down the line. Interesting note: Joe Flacco’s younger brother Tom, a RS-JR OF transfer from Rutgers and the Towson Football team’s starting QB, is on the roster, but dude hasn’t played baseball since high school, so they probably shouldn’t expect much from him.

2019 Projected Record: 18-38 (7-17)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: No


North Carolina A&T

Conference: MEAC

Game Dates: March 27

2018 Record: 32-25 (16-8) | 2018 RPI: 210

Brief Outlook:

After a horrendous run of being MEAC and D1 also-rans, the Aggies made a dramatic turn in 2017 and kept that going in 2018, including almost pulling off an upset vs NC State, on their way to making an NCAA Regional. The 2019 season should be another solid one for the Aggie program, even though the record won’t indicate it; they have a killer tough non-conference slate. SR OF Dawnoven Smith (.335/.415/.600, 19 2B, 8 HR), RS-SR 3B AJ Hunt (.316/.426/.487, 11 2B, 6 HR), and JR 1B Zach McLean (.294/.333/.482, 14 2B, 6 HR) return three of the top four hitters to the offense. Unfortunately, the team must replace their top four base-stealers. Fortunately, the team will return RS-SR SS Brandon Melendez (.363/.439/.446, 8 2B, 14 SB in 2017), the team’s top 2017 offensive weapon, after he missed all of 2018. The Aggies return their top two starting pitchers from last year in SR RHP Tim Luth (6-3, 3.98 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, .242 OBA) and JR RHP Michael Johnson (7-2, 3.82 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .273 OBA). SR RHP Leon Hunter (1-1, 2 SV, 4.50 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .202 OBA) is the top returning arm from a depleted bullpen. FR RHP Gianni Smith and FR LHP Peyton Winebarger should contribute on the mound immediately. JUCO transfer RHPs Evan Gates and Justin Fox will be key pitchers right away; Gates as a starter and Fox out of the bullpen.

2019 Projected Record: 23-28 (16-8)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Maybe


South Carolina

Conference: SEC

Game Dates: April 2

2018 Record: 37-26 (17-13) | 2018 RPI: 27

Brief Outlook:

SR OF TJ Hopkins (.345/.448/.496, 8 2B, 14 SB), SR OF/UTIL Jacob Olson (.234/.290/.472, 20 2B, 12 HR), SO 2B/SS/OF Noah Campbell (.270/.372/.380, 3 3B, 3 HR, 7 SB), and SR C Chris Cullen (.190/.294/.293, 3 HR) are the only returners in the lineup from the 2018 Super Regional squad. Campbell, from Cardinal Gibbons HS in Raleigh, and Hopkins will fill the leadoff and two-hole spots, while Olson and Cullen will occupy the bottom of the order. Filling in that heart of the lineup is going to be the key for South Carolina if they hope for another solid season. Talent is, of course, there for it to happen. A quartet of JUCO transfers should contend to fill those spots in the form of SO OF Andrew Eyster, JR C Luke Berryhill, and JR INFs Nick Neville and George Callil. FR INF Josiah Sightler, FR OF Brady Allen, and RS-FR OF Ian Jenkins are players to watch; all were MLB Draft picks coming out of high school. SO RHP Logan Chapman (3-3, 5.85 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, .268 OBA), SR RHP Ridge Chapman (1-4, 4.93 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, .194 OBA), and SO RHP Carmen Mlodzinski (3-6, 1 SV, 5.52 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, .264 OBA) all return with starting experience, but Mlodzinski appears to be the only one who has locked down a weekend rotation spot as of yet. Highly-touted JUCO transfer RHP Hayden Lehman is almost assuredly going to earn a starting rotation gig. JR RHP Sawyer Bridges (2-1, 5 SV, 1.35 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .223 OBA), SO RHP TJ Shook (3-0, 2.33 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, .305 OBA), SO RHP Parker Coyne (1-1, 3.18 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .192 OBA), SO LHP John Gilreath (0-1, 1 SV, 4.28 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, .260 OBA), and SR RHP Graham Lawson (1-1, 3 SV, 5.60 ERA, 1.32 ERA, .248 OBA) all return to form what will be one of the nation’s best bullpens. Shook and Gilreath could end up in the starting rotation, though, but there are arms a plenty for the ‘pen. There are a lot of options for the Gamecocks to play with. That’s not even factoring in JUCO transfers LHP Cole Ganopulus and RHP Reid Morgan. There’s also a bevy of talented freshman arms, led by LHP Dylan Harley (who may well end up as a starter) and RHP Wesley Sweatt. If the Gamecocks don’t win this year, it won’t be because of the pitching.

2019 Projected Record: 41-15 (18-12)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Yes


UNC-Wilmington

Conference: Colonial Athletic (CAA)

Game Dates: April 16, 30

2018 Record: 39-23 (14-9) | 2018 RPI: 60

Brief Outlook:

The Seahawks lose their two most productive hitters from a year ago (1B Mason Berne and C Ryan Jeffers, both 2018 MLB Draft picks), but return pretty much everyone else of note. SS Greg Jones (.278/.412/.370, 4 HR, 19 HBP, 16 SB), a top 2019 MLB Draft prospect as a draft-eligible sophomore, leads a solid core that also includes RS-JR OF Kep Brown (.267/.323/.459, 12 2B, 7 HR), JR 3B Cole Weiss (.264/.335/.357, 9 2B, 4 HR), and SO OF Noah Bridges (.247/.307/.313, 9 2B, 14 SB). FR OF Chris Thorburn from Raleigh’s Cardinal Gibbons HS, FR C Matt Suggs, and FR INF Brooks Baldwin should all make immediate contributions in the lineup. SO RHPs Gage Herring (2-1, 2.68 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .207 OBA) and Landen Roupp (0-3, 3.58 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, .254 OBA) return to a starting rotation that must replace 8th round MLB Draft pick (Cleveland Indians) Alex Royalty. The bullpen loses three of its top arms, but does return proven entities in SR LHP Justin Walke (4-1, 1 SV, 3.32 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .252 OBA), RS-SR LHP Blake Morgan (2-1 1 SV, 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .198 OBA), JR RHP Luke Gesell (3-2, 3.37 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, .231 OBA), and JR RHP Henry Ryan (3-0, 1.11 ERA, 0.95, .145 OBA). The team also has the younger brother of Brock Deatherage \m/ at its disposal. Blake Deatherage is a SR IF/RHP who pitched 17.2 IP last year and had 15 PA. FR RHPs Jason Hudak, Mike Picollo (a 2018 33rd round MLB Draft pick by the Mets), and Brooks Baldwin could and should get early opportunities on the mound.

2019 Projected Record: 35-20 (15-9)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Yes


Tennessee Tech

Conference: Ohio Valley

Game Dates: April 23

2018 Record: 53-12 (27-3) | 2018 RPI: 16

Brief Outlook:

Tennessee Tech has always been a good program, but nothing overly great. Then they had a 40-win season in 2017... and then burst onto the national scene last year with one of the best and most complete teams in all of college baseball. The team won the Oxford Regional before being knocked out by Texas in a hard-fought Super Regional. Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, the vast majority of that great team has moved on. SR OF Kevin Strohschein (.375/.433/.650, 18 2B, 18 HR) is the lone returning starter, and while the dude is a beast, there is a ton of talent to replace. The eight departed starters combined for 101 HR last year, all batted over .310 with OBPs over .383, and only one had under a .520 SLG%. JR OF Anthony Carrera (.345/.438/.673, 4 HR), JR UTIL Cody Littlejohn (.289/.413/.605, 3 HR), and JR C John Elford (.385/.438/1.077, 3 HR in 13 AB) all impressed in limited playing time last year. JR C/UTIL Gavin Johns, a UCLA transfer, should be an impact player. JUCO transfer JR 2B/SS Jay Meuse should also contribute. The returning situation on the pitching staff isn’t much better. SR LHP Alex Hursey (8-5, 4.81 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, .282 OBA) is the lone weekend rotation starter returning, and he was the #3 starter last year. JR LHP Nic Dye (4-1, 4.95 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, .278 OBA) returns after starting eight games a year ago and JR RHP Devin Lancaster (1-0, 5.62 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .287 OBA) has 14 career starts under his belt, so some experience is there. SO RHP Tyler Sylvester (3-1, 4 SV, 5.04 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .213 OBA) is the top returning bullpen arm, and if Dye and Lancaster end up in the starting rotation, he’ll be pretty much the only one with meaningful experience and production. A pair of ACC transfers should make immediate contributions. JR RHP Jacob Cole, a UNC transfer by the JUCO route, is likely to man one starting spot while RS-FR LHP Connor Adams should get plenty of innings either as a starter of key reliever. JR RHP Caleb Morgan, another JUCO arm, should also be an oft-used arm in some capacity.

2019 Projected Record: 34-20 (20-10)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Yes


Radford

Conference: Big South

Game Dates: May 3, 4, 5

2018 Record: 25-32 (14-13) | 2018 RPI: 213

Brief Outlook:

Radford has been an average-to-above average program over the last decade, with the exception of an uncommonly good 2015 (45-16, 20-4) followed by an uncommonly bad 2016 (19-39, 9-15). The program has been building since that 2015 Conference Championship and NCAA Regional run (the not-great 2017 team did make the Lousville Regional after making a run to win the Big South Conference Tournament), and the 2019 season should be their best since that one, although not quite to that level. JR 1B Spencer Horwitz (.288/.386/.443, 13 2B, 7 HR, 34:34 BB:K), SR 3B Matt Roth (.287/.355/.441, 11 2B, 6 HR), RS-SR OF Andrew Szamski (.336/.414/.547, 9 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR), RS-SR 2B Kyle Butler (.264/.362/.342, 9 2B, 11 SB), JR C Straton Podaras (.258/.403/.356, 11 2B), RS-JR SS Colby Higgerson (.254/.356/.335, 8 2B, 10 SB), SO OF Garrett Matheny (.218/.328/.385, 9 2B, 5 HR, 9 SB), and SO C Will Harless (not a good hitter) all return as primary starters from a year ago. The offense returns all nine of the top hitters by AB from last year. They should see a nice uptick in production. JUCO 1B Jimmy Goldsmith should also add some pop to the lineup. SR RHP Ryan Sande (2-2, 3.62 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .246 OBA) and SO LHP Hunter Williams (1-4, 4.71 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .250 OBA) return to the weekend rotation. Sande was a high school teammate of NC State INF Dillon Cooper at Leesville Road HS in Raleigh; that could make for a fun showdown as the two comprised a formidable middle infield at LRHS. SR RHP Cameron Fritz (3-2, 1 SV, 5.19 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .253 OBA), SR LHP Andrew Nardi (3-3, 5.14 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, .293 OBA), JR RHP Austin Gerber (2-3, 5.23 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, .284 OBA), and JR RHP Evan Threehouse (0-1, 1 SV, 4.61 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, .339 OBA) return to provide a foundation for the bullpen. Several freshman should help to bolster the pitching staff, including RHP Graham Firoved, LHP Derek Domecq, and RHP Cole Dunn. Firoved should be a weekend starter.

2019 Projected Record: 28-25 (17-10)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Maybe