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Opponent Preview: Coastal Carolina

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Meet the Chanticleers... A mix of youth, experience, and terror

2016 Division I Men’s Baseball Championship (NCAA Photos Archive)

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Coastal Carolina

Mascot: Angry Barnyard Chickens | School Location: Conway Twitty, SC | Conference: Fun Belt

2020 Record: 8-3 (0-0, T-1st) | 2020 RPI Rank: 24

2019 Record: 36-26-1 (15-13*, T-2nd East) | 2019 RPI Rank: 60

2018 Record: 43-19 (23-7*, 1st) | 2018 RPI Rank: 25

2018 & 2019 Sun Belt Conference Champions


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Doak Field at Dail Park (Raleigh, NC

Game Time(s): Wednesday, Mar 4 @ 3:00 pm

TV: ACC Network/WatchESPN

Radio: TuneIn App, GoPack (Wednesday)

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

First, from our preseason preview:

The 2019 Sun Belt Conference Tournament Champions have a lot of key losses in personnel to replace in 2020. The offense returns just two of the ten players who started over 12 games last year. Those two guys are SR INF (and Raleigh native) Scott McKeon (.340/.399/.484, 18 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR) and JR OF Parker Chavers (.316/.435/.612, 9 2B, 4 3B, 15 HR, 39:47 BB:K, 10-12 SB). SR OF Morgan Hyde (.365/.400/.500, 2 2B) and rJR OF Jared Johnson (.299/.417/.448, 4 2B, 2 HR) are poised to move into more prominent roles. The pitching staff also has to replace its two pitchers who started the most games last year, but do welcome back JR RHP Zach McCambley (6-3, 5.21 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, .277 OBA, 67.1 IP, 76 K) and SO RHP Nick Parker (2-1, 6.07 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, .280 OBA, 46.0 IP, 46 K), who combined to make 19 starts a year ago. The bullpen, an overall weakness of the 2019 squad, also loses its top arm from last year. JR LHP Trevor Damron (2-1, 4.67 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, .280 OBA, 34.2 IP, 45 K) and SO RHP Alaska Abney (3-4, 3 SV, 5.72 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, .282 OBA, 39.1 IP, 41 K) are the top returning bullpen arms. The newcomers for 2020, however, are phenomenal and will build towards big things down the road. On offense, JUCO transfers C Alex Gattinelli and INF Fox Leum are mashers, and C Hunter Ashburn should contribute immediately. Among the talented freshmen, 1B/3B Zack Beach, INF Eric Brown, UTIL J.T. Killen, OF Makenzie Pate, and OF Kyle Westfall are all names to watch in the future. Redshirt-freshman Walt Richardson could also make an impact this year. On the mound, graduate transfer SR RHP Chase Antle (1-5, 7.56 ERA, 2.01 WHIP, .267 OBA, 33.1 IP, 47 K at Bowling Green) has the stuff to contribute in some capacity, as does JUCO transfer JR LHP Josh Jarman. Redshirt-freshman RHP Jacob Maton is a bit of a wildcard. He was a highly rated recruit coming out of high school, but missed all of last year with Tommy John Surgery. Freshmen LHP Jonathan Blackwell, RHP Casey Green, and RHP Will Smith will be early contributors.

2020 Projected Record: 31-25 (20-10)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Yes

Gary Gilmore is now in his 25th year as Coastal Carolina’s head coach and the man has earned every single ounce of respect he is given. Under his guidance, the Chanticleers have made 16 NCAA Regional appearances in 24 years, with three Super Regionals, and the 2016 National Championship. His teams are mentally tough, they play hard, and they don’t back down against anyone. They’re a fun group to watch and root for... when you’re not playing them.

Last year’s was probably the worst season Coastal has had under Gilmore aside from what was essentially a “reset” year in 2014, where they put in place the foundation that would eventually win them the national title a couple years later. The team finished barely over .500 in conference, but they still managed to win the Sun Belt Tournament and make it to another Regional. And that should tell you just about everything you need to know about how good the program has been under Gilmore.

Unfortunately, Gilmore was diagnosed with liver cancer in January and his treatment schedule in Houston has taken him away from the team. All hopes, prayers, and well-wishes to Coach Gilmore for a quick return to full health!

As for Coastal’s team on the field this year... As a team, they’re slashing .278/.398/.402 with 28 extra-base hits and a 56:99 BB:K ratio. Their hitters have also been plunked by 22 pitches, which is pretty incredible. Coastal is a fairly run-happy team, but they also pick their spots incredibly well (23-of-25 in stolen bases), and don’t rely on just a single player to do all that damage for them. You can always count on a Coastal team to be fundamentally sound and to put pressure on you on the bases whenever possible. They’ve also been a little more reliant on the sacrifice bunt this year than they have in the past couple of seasons, which speaks a bit more to the inexperience further down in the lineup.

On the mound, the Chanticleers aren’t reliant on strikeouts, but that’s never been their methodology. Sure, they have guys who can rack up some K’s, but the philosophy for this program has always been to induce swings on low-percentage pitches and let your defense work behind them. That defense hasn’t been as crisp as in years past (18 errors and a .959 fielding percentage so far), but they’re making up for it by turning a lot of double plays (16).


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Wednesday: TBA


Key Players:

Offense

3B/1B Cooper Weiss (FR) - .440/.543/.720, 25 AB, 4 2B, 1 HR, 10 R, 12 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K, 4-5 SB. Freshman has come on ridiculously strong of late. Has accounted for multiple runs and/or RBI in five of the last six games. Not a huge kid, but a lot of pop from a well-built frame.

SS Scott McKeon (SR) - .333/.407/.542, 48 AB, 1 2B, 3 HR, 14 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 10 K, 2-2 SB. Leadoff hitter has hit home runs in Coastal’s first AB of the game now in back-to-back games. Raleigh native (Millbrook HS).

OF Morgan Hyde (SR) - .350/.391/.550, 20 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 9 R, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 0-0 SB. Former JUCO transfer is the 4th outfielder for this team, but producing every time he’s given the chance. Should really be given more ABs (he slashed .365/.400/.500 in 56 PA last year).

CF Makenzie Pate (FR) - .300/.440/.500, 20 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 6 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K, 4-4 SB. Talented with great athleticism. Strikes out a bit much (he is a freshman), but shows potential to have a great hit tool.

2B Eric Brown (FR) - .293/.396/.366, 41 AB, 3 2B, 0 HR, 10 R, 6 RBI, 6 BB, 7 K, 2-3 SB. Another athletic and talented freshman with good bat skills. Superb defensive player. The likely future SS for the program once McKeon graduates. Not a lot of long ball power (yet), but good gap ability.

RF Nick Lucky (SO) - .242/.435/.303, 33 AB, 2 2B, 0 HR, 13 R, 5 RBI, 8 BB, 13 K, 6-6 SB. Was a 14th round pick of the Red Sox in the 2018 MLB Draft out of high school. Kinda has a Patrick Bailey thing going on this year where he’s striking out a lot more than he has before, but he’s also walking a ton so the OBP is super nice.

C B.T. Riopelle (SO) - .276/.344/.621, 29 AB, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 R, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 9 K, 1-1 SB. Is 5-for-9 in his last three games with 2 2B, 3 R, 6 RBI, 3 BB, and just 1 K. His defense is what’s holding him back from more playing time. He also caught Tuesday against Charlotte, so he might be sitting this one.

Pitching

RHP Alaska Abney (SO) - 2-0, 1.50 ERA/0.58 WHIP/.122 OBA, 12.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 14 K. On pace for an absurd usage level out of the bullpen. Top relief arm thus far. Did not pitch on Tuesday versus Charlotte, so we’ll likely see him in this one out of the pen.

RHP Zach McCambley (JR) - 2-1, 1.50/1.06/.203, 18.0 IP, 14 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 24 K. Staff ace and Friday starter (so we won’t see him), but deserves mention for how well he’s bounced back this year after an up-and-down 2019. He’s an MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospect for this year’s draft.

RHP Shaddon Peavyhouse (rSO) - 1-0, 0.00/0.71/.200, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. Coming back after missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John Surgery. Has been lights-out thus far in his three appearances.

RHP Chase Antle (SR) - 0-0, 1 SV, 0.00/0.50/.000, 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Grad transfer from Bowling Green with an absolutely electric arm (he hit 99 mph this past weekend against Maryland), but has also dealt with control issues in the past. Made six starts last year at BGSU, including a six inning outing, so he could be a candidate to start this one.

LHP Jonathan Blackwell (FR) - 0-0, 0.00/1.50/.250, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Top rated pitcher out of the state of West Virginia last year. Likely to see time in this one to try and offset some of State’s lefty hitters.


Quick! Fun Facts!

Coastal Carolina would have never won their 2016 National Championship if the umpires hadn’t forced NC State’s pitchers to go out and pitch in a monsoon before finally postponing the finish of the game.

Fun Fact #2: Hell yes, I’m still salty about it! (But I still usually root for Coastal in just about any other match-up.)

Coastal Carolina leads the nation in double plays turned with 16. NC State is tied for 5th with 14.

NC State leads the series between the two, 18-14.


Prediction

This is going to be a Johnny Wholestaff game by both squads, but NC State has the more experienced depth in the pitching staff and the luxury of having not expended three pitchers (including two of their best relievers) on Tuesday.

Outcome: Wolfpack take this one, 8-5.