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Opponent Preview: UNC-Wilmington

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Meet the Seahawks... A team on a heater

TCU UNC Wilmington baseball Max Faulkner/Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: UNC-Wilmington

Mascot: Squawky Beach Birds | School Location: Wilmington, NC | Conference: Colonial

2021 Record: 26-16 (10-8, 2nd South) | 2021 RPI Rank: 95

2020 Record: 11-5 (0-0, T-1st) | 2020 RPI Rank: 74

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


When? Where? How do I watch?

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

Game Time(s): Tues, May 11 @ 6:00pm

TV: ACC Network / WatchESPN

Radio: TuneIn App, GoPack

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

Mark Scalf was the heart and soul of the UNCW baseball program for almost three decades. He took a middling program to another level, guiding the team to 9 regular season CAA conference titles and 6 CAA tournament championships. He was never scared of scheduling tough out of conference, so his teams never jumped off the page to the casual fan with their win totals, but those who follow college baseball respected the man and the program.

Scalf retired following the 2019 season and long-time assistant Randy Hood took over. Hood has - as you’d expect and as he’d be wise to do - followed the same blueprint that Scalf laid out, recruiting and developing players while supplementing with some D1 transfers here and there. Time will tell if he can attain the success of his predecessor, but the program is set up for success with a solid core of young players.

The 2021 Seahawks are hitting their stride right now. After a midseason stretch where they went 4-10, UNCW is now 11-3 in their last 14 games and primed for a weekend showdown with Charleston for 1st place in their division.

The team is led by a solid offensive unit that will play small ball when the opportunity presents itself. They’re not reliant on a single guy for power or speed, but rather have a decent spread of both throughout the lineup. The weakness for the group is plate discipline and strikeouts.

UNCW’s pitchers have been holding their own this year, led by a fantastic trio of weekend starters (Landen Roupp, Luke Gesell, Adam Smith), keeping opponents to a .229 average. They will pitch aggressively, not afraid to work inside, but also effectively; walks are not an overly problematic issue. If there’s one fault for this staff, it’s experienced bullpen depth. The defense behind them is solid and they do a decent enough job at controlling the running game.


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Tuesday: TBD


Key Players:

Offense

2B/OF Brooks Baldwin (rSO) - .328/.359/.602, 9 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 34 R, 37 RBI, 7 BB, 31 K, 8-13 SB. Leadoff man and sparkplug for the offense. Obviously has solid offensive skills, but his defensive flexibility is equally outstanding.

1B Kip Brandenburg (rJR) - .310/.400/.484, 13 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 36 R, 22 RBI, 22 BB, 38 K, 4-5 SB. Lanky 6’5 guy with a frame that could add significant power. Well traveled, starting off in JUCO ball before moving to UNC and then transferring to UNCW.

SS Taber Mongero (rSO) - .309/.409/.374, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 20 R, 23 RBI, 19 BB, 14 K, 1-2 SB. JUCO transfer who started his career at Gardner-Webb. Second generation UNCW player whose father was the 1989 CAA Player of the Year. Bottom of the order hitter with good bat skills and plate discipline, but lacks power.

C/RF Matt Suggs (rSO) - .277/.382/.560, 8 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 26 R, 28 RBI, 17 BB, 41 K, 0-1 SB. Local kid from Hoggard HS who is in his third year as a starter. Solid defensive catcher.

Pitching

RHP Hunter Hodges (FR) - 1-2, 3 SV, 3.49 ERA, 28.1 IP, 11 H, 21 BB, 38 K. Has big time swing-and-miss stuff, but also significant control issues. Has some serious potential.

RHP Ethan Chenault (FR) - 2-1, 1 SV, 4.09 ERA, 22.0 IP, 14 H, 9 BB, 18 K. Big 6’5 freshman with a live arm. Was coached in high school by former MLB reliever Billy Wagner.

LHP Cole Benton (rFR) - 1-0, 2.08 ERA, 13.0 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 12 K. Has a twin brother on the team, Cody, and is the younger brother of Trey Benton, who pitched at ECU and is now in the Indians minor league system. Best lefty reliever on the team.

RHP Ryan Calvert (FR) - 1-1, 4.01 ERA, 24.2 IP, 24 H, 16 BB, 28 K. Began the year as the Sunday starter for the Seahawks, but has only made one appearance since April 11th. Was the CAA Rookie of the Week in mid March. Big 6’5, 240 lbs frame. If he’s not hurt, would be a prime candidate for the midweek start.


Quick! Fun Facts!

UNCW head coach Randy Hood was a teammate of Michael Jordan’s with the White Sox AA affiliate Birmingham Barons during Jordan’s unsuccessful one-year foray into professional baseball.

Brooks Baldwin is the nephew of former UNCW head coach Mark Scalf, and the son of Chuck Baldwin, the 1986 ACC Player-of-the-Year with Clemson.

UNCW’s roster features Kevin Pitarra, the younger brother NC State baseball alum Stephen Pitarra, who was a three year starter for the Wolfpack from 2016-2018.


Prediction

Given that this is likely a Johnny Wholstaff game for UNCW and NC State could (and should) roll out Chris Villaman, I like the Wolfpack’s chances.

Outcome: Wolfpack wins.