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Opponent Preview: UNC Wilmington

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Meet the Seahawks... as defiantly pesky as always

NCAA BASEBALL: JUN 01 Div 1 Championship Chapel Hill Regional - Tennessee v UNC Wilmington Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: UNC Wilmington

Mascot: Squeaky Birds | School Location: Wilmington, NC | Conference: Colonial

2020 Record: 6-2 (0-0, T-1st) | 2020 RPI Rank: 160

2019 Record: 32-31 (12-12, T-3rd*) | 2019 RPI Rank: 148

2018 Record: 39-23 (14-9, 4th*) | 2018 RPI Rank: 60

*2018 & 2019 CAA Tournament Champions


When? Where? How do I watch?

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

Game Time(s): Tuesday, Feb 25 @ 4:00pm

TV: ACCNX/WatchESPN

Radio: TuneIn App, GoPack (Tuesday)

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

UNCW hasn’t exactly played murderer’s row yet, but they’ve acquitted themselves quite well thus far. Based off of what we expected of them, it’s a little surprising to see the Seahawks held to five or fewer runs in five of their eight games, but early season baseball does typically benefit pitching. The next four games will tell us a lot more about where this team is heading: NC State Tuesday and a three-game series at Kentucky this weekend. UNCW also has midweek tilts against ECU, UNC, and Campbell (twice) before the end of the March to deal with.

The offense hasn’t yet hit as expected considering the large number of returning bats they have. A lot of that has to do with the loss of Greg Jones - with his loss also explaining the decreased efficiency in the team’s base running this year (15-of-23; 65.2%... they were successful on 77.5% of 138 attempts last year, with Jones going 42-of-52 alone).

The pitching has been overall great thus far. Should that carry forward, the team is going to be in great shape when the bats finally do come around.


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Tuesday: RHP Brody Lawson (rSO)


Key Players:

Offense

DH Ron Evans (FR) - .364/.531/.864, 22 AB, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 R, 7 RBI, 6 BB, 7 K, 0-0 SB. Big 6’3, 260 lbs freshman originally from Raleigh (Leesville Road HS). Lots of power and probably next year’s starting 3B when Weiss graduates.

CF Noah Bridges (JR) - .394/.474/.545, 33 AB, 2 2B, 1 HR, 7 R, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 9 K, 7-11 SB. Leadoff hitter and aggressive on the bases. Three-year starter, he’s swinging the bat a lot better this year and has a much better BB:K rate.

OF Tanner Wells (rSO) - .400/.520/.600, 20 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 7 R, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K, 2-3 SB. Transfer from High Point where he slashed .329/.376/.452 with 7 2B, 4 HR, and 7 SB as a freshman in 2018. Took a medical redshirt in 2019 after playing only 11 games (and struggling to the tund of a .067/.222/.067 slash line in 30 AB).

3B Cole Weiss (SR) - .267/.371/.433, 30 AB, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 11 K, 2-2 SB. A 37th round pick by the Giants last year, but returned for his senior year. He’s been too aggressive at the plate thus far this year, hurting his numbers. Might be pressing too much to impress scouts.

Pitching

RHP Brody Lawson (rSO) - 0-0, 2.25 ERA/0.75 WHIP/..143 OBA, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Started last week’s midweek loss (4-3) at Coastal Carolina. Talented arm. Now in his second year back after missing his true freshman year due to injury, control seems to be less of an issue (at least in the one game we’ve seen).

RHP Landen Roupp (JR) - 2-0, 0.75/1.00/.244, 12.0 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 18 K. Saturday starter was great last year (6-3, 2 SV, 3.47 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .232 OBA, 80.1 IP, 91 K) and is off to an even better start this year.

LHP Zarion Sharpe (rJR) - 1-0, 1.54/0.71/.146, 11.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 14 K. Friday starter was a 19th round pick by the Cardinals in last year’s draft but came back to increase his stock since he can drive up his value. Tossed seven no-hit innings in his last start against Bowling Green.

RHP Blake Deatherage (SR) - 1-0, 1 SV, 3.38/0.75/.200, 8.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 10 K. Younger brother of former NC State standout Brock Deatherage \m/ Started the first game of the double-header they had on Sunday of opening weekend. Could slide into the Sunday spot if Luke Gesell continues to struggle there. Control has always been an issue, but so far so good for Blake.

RHP Nick Bruno (rJR) - 0-1, 0.00/0.00/.000, 3.2 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. Big righty with a somewhat funky overhand delivery is really coming into form now a couple years removed from a major arm injury.

RHP Adam Smith (SO) - 0-0, 2 SV, 5.06/1.18/.200, 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. Converted infielder (slashed .133/.188/.233 in 30 AB last year) is now the team’s closer. Did make nine appearances last year, including one late in a blowout loss to NC State where he struck out three (and gave up a triple) in one scoreless inning.


Quick! Fun Facts!

I’ll be lazy and copy this from our earlier-linked preseason opponent preview:

The 2020 UNCW Baseball team will also feature the younger brothers of former NC State players Stephen Pitarra (FR C Kevin Pitarra) and Brock Deatherage (SR RHP Blake Deatherage). If Deatherage (2-0, 6.75 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, .256 OBA, 32.0 IP, 18 K) can consistently throw strikes, he’ll find himself as a key piece of the bullpen for this team.


Prediction

This is a sneaky good pitching match-up between UNCW’s Lawson and NC State’s JR LHP David Harrison. In his start last week against Longwood, Harrison looked really good (6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K). I don’t expect him to go quite as long this week as he’ll be facing much better hitting, and the same goes for Lawson.

Outcome: NC State squeaks out a close one, 5-4, over the squeaky birds.