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Opponent Preview: Tennessee Tech

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Meet the Golden Eagles... A team with questions, but power bats galore

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 30 Tennessee Tech at Chattanooga Photo by Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Tennessee Tech

Mascot: Expensive Metal-Coated Birds | School Location: Cookeville, TN | Conference: Ohio Valley

2020 Record: 3-0 (0-0, T-1st) | 2020 RPI Rank: 176

2019 Record: 22-32 (9-21, 11th) | 2019 RPI Rank: 237

2018 Record: 53-12 (27-3, 1st) | 2018 RPI Rank: 16


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Doak Field at Dail Park (Raleigh, NC)

Game Time(s): Friday, Feb 18 @ 3:00pm | Saturday, Feb 19 @ 2:00pm | Sunday, Feb 20 @ 1:00pm

TV: ACCNX/WatchESPN (Friday | Saturday | Sunday)

Radio: TuneIn App, GoPack (Friday | Saturday | Sunday)

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

Because - hey - why not link it one more time, let’s take a look at what was said about Tennessee Tech in the non-conference opponent preview:

Four talented hitters, including three power bats, return for Tennessee Tech in 2020. JR INF Jason Hinchman (.278/.420/.697, 11 2B, 24 HR), SO INF John Dyer (.330/.420/.581, 13 2B, 11 HR), SR OF Anthony Carrera (.271/.391/.538, 9 2B, 15 HR), and SO INF Nathan McMeans (.294/.374/.365, 12 2B, 21:13 BB:K) return to lead the lineup. FR INF Brett Roberts and FR C Luke Jones should be early contributors, as should JUCO transfer OF Paul Steffensen. SR RHP Mark Leonard (2-4, 6.43 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, .268 OBA, 63.0 IP, 60 K) is the lone weekend starting pitcher to return in 2020. SR RHP Jacob Cole (2-4, 2 SV, 4.75 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .273 OBA, 47.1 IP, 44 K), JR RHP Tyler Sylvester (0-3, 3 SV, 3.45 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 31.1 IP, 30 K), and rJR LHP Nic Dye (2-1, 3.80 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .221 OBA, 23.2 IP, 33 K) will lead the bullpen - assuming none of them move into the starting rotation. The pitching staff will again be in search of arms to add quality depth. FR LHP Ty Fisher and FR RHP Christian Herberholz should be high contributors in their first seasons on campus.

The biggest change from that thus far is in relation to the starting pitching. Herberholz has been given the role of Sunday starter right out of the gate, while two players not previewed started the first two games of the Golden Eagles season opening series. Redshirt-senior LHP Alex Hursey started the Friday game in his return from an injury that cost him the majority of last year, and looked pretty good in the process. I skipped right over him in the season preview since he was a senior in 2019, not even noticing that he had been granted a medical redshirt despite appearing in 8 games and throwing 17.2 innings. Usually the NCAA doesn’t grant medical redshirts after that much playing time. The Saturday start belonged to SO LHP Connor Adams, a guy I didn’t preview due to his 9.90 ERA in 20.0 IP last year. All told, Tennessee Tech pitching and defense allowed 19 runs on 26 hits and 16 walks with 22 strikeouts in the 27.0 innings across their opening weekend sweep of Evansville.

Odd I talked about pitching first, because - as it’s always been for this program - the hitting is the strength of the team. Tennessee Tech should change their name from the Golden Eagles to the Golden Dingers. These boys can mash. Already in three games, the team has combined for 8 doubles and 9 home runs. They’re definitely more aggressive free-swinging hitters (as evidenced by their 11:27 team BB:K ratio), but that approach can certainly work if you have the right pieces for it. I probably don’t have to mention this, but they’re content to play for the big inning, attempting just three stolen bases so far (being successful on two of those attempts).


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Friday: LHP Alex Hursey (rSR)

Saturday: LHP Connor Adams (SO)

Sunday: RHP Christian Herberholz (FR)


Key Players:

Offense

1B Jason Hinchman (JR) - .692/.692/1.846, 13 AB, 5 HR, 7 R, 7 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K, 2-2 SB. The 6’3, 225 lbs beast showed flashes of power in limited action as a freshman in 2018 (1 2B, 3 HR in 32 AB), and has been a masher ever since (11 2B, 24 HR last year). Had 2 HR in the season opener and 3 HR on Sunday. Also has both of the team’s SB this year. Please don’t hurt us.

3B Gavin Johns (SR) - .500/.583/.900, 10 AB, 4 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K, 2 HBP. Former UCLA and JUCO transfer has loads of talent.

CF Anthony Carrera (SR) - .429/.500/.571, 7 AB, 1 2B, 2 R, 0 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K. Didn’t play in the Sunday game, and I’m not sure why. Could be hurt...?

C Luke Jones (FR) - .600/.600/1.800, 5 AB, 2 HR, 2 R, 6 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K. Hit a three-run, pinch-hit HR in the bottom of the 9th in the Sunday game to tie the game up, before the game-winning walk-off home run was hit in the next AB by Hinchman. Not sure why this kid has only started one game.

LF Paul Steffensen (JR) - .273/.385/.636, 11 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K. Stocky JUCO transfer has an impact bat with plenty of gap power, but he also a propensity to strikeout a lot. Originally from Alaska.

SS Brett Roberts (FR) - .250/.400/.500, 12 AB, 1 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K. Leadoff hitter was one of the top recruits in this year’s class (along with Jones). Highly talented.

Pitching

LHP Alex Hursey (rSR) - 0-0, 2.70 ERA/1.50 WHIP/.286 OBA, 3.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Former JUCO transfer from Florence-Darlington CC in South Carolina. Started 15 games in 2018, going 8-5 with a 4.81 ERA, including throwing a gem (9.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) in a win against #22 Missouri State in the Oxford Regional. Trying to return to that form.

LHP Connor Adams (SO) - 0-0, 6.23/1.15/.188, 4.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K. Originally signed with and attended Louisville, but transferred before the start of the spring semester his freshman year. Has great stuff, but control (26 BB in 20.0 IP in 2019) can be a major issue.

RHP Christian Herberholz (FR) - 0-0, 4.50/1.25/.250, 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. One of top freshman arms for Tennessee Tech.

RHP Mark Leonard (SR) - 1-0, 0.00/0.60/.200, 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. Former JUCO transfer (was teammates with Hursey at FDCC) started 10 games in 2019, going 2-4 with a 6.43 ERA. Likely to be one of the most often-used relievers this year.

RHP Trey Wright (FR) - 1-0, 0.00/0.33/.000, 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. Younger brother of former Vanderbilt pitcher and 2017 fifth overall MLB draft pick Kyle Wright.

RHP Brock Myers (JR) - 0-0, 1 SV, 0.00/2.40/.333, 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Only needs two more innings to double his career IP heading into the season.

RHP Tyler Sylvester (JR) - 0-0, 1 SV, 0.00/3.00/.000, 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. Has appeared in 40 career games in just over two seasons with 8 total saves now. Control can be an issue at times, but he has good stuff and a good frame.


Quick! Fun Facts!

They’re a baseball team with a kid named Brock Myers. That is awesome.

Speaking of BrockMyers, he “joined MLB catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Mike Napoli as the only players to hit five home runs in five games at the Little League World Series, and was the first player ever to hit one in every game he played.”

NC State won last year’s meeting, 10-6, which is the only time these two schools have played each other in baseball.

Tennessee Tech has won 40+ games in four of the last seven seasons.

The 2018 Golden Eagles team had 8 players drafted, including a player each in the 4th and 7th rounds.


Prediction

NC State’s pitchers will need to live low in the zone and avoid leaving the ball out over the plate against the Golden Eagles. The Wolfpack take the first two games of the series, but Tennessee Tech bats are too much to deal with on Sunday and they salvage the finale.

Outcome: NC State wins two of three.