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NCAA Regional Opponent Preview: Campbell

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Meet the Postseason Camels... Thorns in the side

Al Marmoom Heritage Festival 2019 Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Campbell

Mascot: Wednesday Enthusiasts | School Location: Buies Creek, NC | Conference: Big South

2019 Record: 35-19 (19-7*, 1st) | 2018 RPI Rank:56

2018 Record: 35-26 (21-6*, 1st) | 2018 RPI Rank: 109

2017 Record: 25-32 (10-14, 8th) | 2017 RPI Rank: 220

*2018 & 2019 Big South Regular Season and Tournament Champions


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Clark-LeClair Stadium (Greenville, NC)

Game Time(s): Friday, May 31 @ 12:00pm

TV: WatchESPN/ESPN3

Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh, GoPack All-Access

Live Stats: NCAA, ECU Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

NC State and Campbell have played twice this year, splitting the two games.

Game 1 Preview - Game 1 Recap (NC State 10, Campbell 1)

Game 2 Preview - Game 2 Recap (Campbell 5, NC State 3)

Former Campbell coach Greg Goff (now the pitching coach at Purdue) did the whole rebuild thing with the Campbell program. He took over a program that under longtime Campbell coach Chip Smith was sort of your middle-of-the-road program and... goodness, dude, he tanked the hell out of them! I’m talking an 18-65 conference record over his second through fourth seasons in Buies Creek! But then he pulled them out of there to heights unseen before in program history. A 42-22 record and two conference championships over his last three seasons. Impressive!

After Goff left for greener pastures (things ain’t been great for him, but I digress), Campbell tried to keep the good times rolling by hiring Goff’s assistant, Justin Haire. After three seasons of roughly .500 ball and year-over-year falling RPI rankings, Haire turned things around with a 21-6 conference record in 2018 and Big South regular season and tournament championships.

A lot of talent graduated off that 2018 team, though, and despite a boatload of JUCO transfers, the 2019 team was supposed to be a step back.

That’s not been the case.

This is easily Haire’s best team and his best overall coaching job. A tougher non-conference schedule has this team battle-tested. This is also a team that’s hot right now and playing their best baseball of the year at the best time of year.

At the plate, this is a group that pounds out a lot of extra base hits while also doing the little things (wearing pitches, stealing bags) well that set them up for success. They’re not going to blow anyone away with their defensive prowess, but they’re also not going to lose games because of the glove. On the mound, they have a formidable starting rotation, but lack quality bullpen depth.


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Tuesday: RHP Michael Horrell (SR)


Key Players:

Offense

LF Matthew Barefoot (RS-JR) - .313 BA, .414 OBP, .581 SLG, 217 AB, 13 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 54 R, 47 RBI, 28 BB, 20 K, 25-30 SB. Dude is a beast. Not much more to say. Really don’t want to see him come to the plate in a key situation.

3B Collin Wolf (JR) - .311 BA, .429 OBP, .482 SLG, 193 AB, 11 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 45 R, 45 RBI, 32 BB, 30 K, 11-13 SB. Wolf has been a nice JUCO surprise for the Camels this year and a big reason why this team has done as well as they have. Good hitter, versatile infielder. Good player all around. Has hits in seven of the last eight games.

DH Spencer Packard (JR) - .313 BA, .430 OBP, .429 SLG, 182 AB, 15 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 32 R, 41 RBI, 27 BB, 32 K, 1-1 SB. The lefty-hitting Packard has been on fire as of late, with a nine game hitting streak going, and hits in 17 of his last 18. You guessed it: he’s a JUCO transfer.

SS Luis Gimenez (SR) - .308 BA, .388 OBP, .425 SLG, 221 AB, 15 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 48 R, 42 RBI, 20 BB, 18 K, 26-28 SB. Gimenez, like Wolf - well, and all the players listed here - is a big reason why the team has been so successful this year. Gimenez struggled a year ago, but has been great this year. In addition to being incredibly tough to strike out, he can also swipe bags with ease.

C Zach Minnick (SR) - .294 BA, .389 OBP, .485 SLG, 136 AB, 12 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 24 R, 39 RBI, 19 BB, 31 K, 1-5 SB. Minnick had a rough April, but has been on fire in May (.526 BA with 7 2B and 20 RBI). Tough defensively to steal bags on.

2B Tyler Anshaw (SR) - .282 BA, .394 OBP, .470 SLG, 181 AB, 10 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 46 R, 27 RBI, 25 BB, 37 K, 4-5 SB. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: this guy is playing really well as of late. Five of his six home runs have come in the month of May, during which he’s raised his average from .248 to .282.

1B Koby Collins (JR) - .284 BA, .406 OBP, .457 SLG, 116 AB, 11 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 27 R, 27 RBI, 17 BB, 22 K, 2-3 SB. Another JUCO transfer who didn’t start getting regular playing time until a full month into the season. Has been one of those few people who has actually done better in D1 baseball than in JUCO ball. Weird. Went 7-of-10 with 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 R, and 7 RBI in the Big South Tournament.

Pitching

RHP Michael Horrell (SR) - 9-3, 2.73 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .234 OBA, 21.9 K%, 3.8 BB%, 82.1 IP, 74 H, 32 R, 25 ER, 13 BB, 74 K. Seth Johnson gets all the pub because of his electric fastball and high draft projection, but Horrell has been the most consistent pitcher for the Camels this year - and he’s the 2019 Big South Pitcher-of-the-Year. Had an issue with giving up home runs early in the year (five in his first six starts), but has toned that down significantly over the latter part of the year (two in his last eight starts). Not a big strikeout guy, but will take advantage of undisciplined hitters.

RHP Logan Heintzman (RS-SO) - 4-2, 1 SV, 3.48 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, .252 OBA, 25.3 K%, 9.7 BB%, 41.1 IP, 40 H, 18 R, 16 ER, 18 BB, 47 K. Heintzman has been fantastic this year as the top Camel bullpen arm.

LHP Phil Simpson (SR) - 2-2, 0 SV, 4.50 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .289 OBA, 21.1 K%, 6.9 BB%, 40.0 IP, 46 H, 24 R, 20 ER, 12 BB, 37 K. A former JUCO transfer who played his prep ball right down the road from NC State at Holly Springs HS. Was decent, but not great, last year... he’s improved to be one of the top bullpen arms this year for Campbell.

RHP Landry Moore (JR) - 3-0, 4 SV, 2.13 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .221 OBA, 17.6 K%, 7.4 BB%, 25.1 IP, 21 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 8 BB, 19 K. Moore hasn’t pitched in a while as he’s been out with a broken hand, but the sidearmer has been back throwing to hitters in practice and could be back for the regional.

RHP Tyson Messer (SR) - 1-1, 5 SV, 3.45 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, .170 OBA, 41.6 K%, 27.3 BB%, 15.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 21 BB, 32 K. With Landry Moore being hurt, the 2018 2nd Team All-Big South selection has returned to being the team’s closer. Despite the high walk rate, has made 11 straight appearances without allowing a run.


Quick! Fun Facts!

NC State is 51-17-1 all-time versus Campbell. The two teams have never faced in the postseason.

The hashtag that Campbell prefers to use for their athletics teams (or at least baseball) is “#RollHumps”, and I find that hilarious.

Campbell back-up catcher Markus Skundrich should be your favorite player on this team:


Prediction

Campbell’s Horrell is a very good pitcher, but thankfully for State, he’s not a strikeout guy. The venue also plays well for State with ECU’s Clark-LeClair Stadium being a right field homer-happy park and Campbell sending a righty to the mound. That means two-thirds of State’s power trio (Wilson, Edwards, Bailey) will be batting from the left side. Add in other lefty bats like Brad Debo and this could be a recipe for a much-needed and well-timed offensive explosion for State.

The Wolfpack will be sending Reid Johnston to the mound to face the formidable Campbell lineup. Johnston hasn’t made it through the 6th inning since early April. In a regional where the winner is unlikely to come through undefeated, the Wolfpack will need Johnston to provide quality innings - and a lot of them.

Outcome: It’ll be tight the whole way, but NC State wins 7-5