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Opponent Preview: Quinnipiac

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Meet the Bobcats... A program trying to bounce back

NCAA BASEBALL: JUNE 1 Div 1 Championship Greenville Regional - East Carolina v Quinnipiac Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Quinnipiac

Mascot: Robertcats | School Location: Hamden, CT | Conference: MAAC

2022 Record: 1-2 (0-0, T-1st) | 2022 RPI Rank: 241

2021 Record: 7-21 (7-21, 9th) | 2021 RPI Rank: 192

2020 Record: 3-11 (0-0, T-1st) | 2019 RPI Rank: 242


When? Where? How do I watch?

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

Game Time(s): Fri, Feb 25 @ 6:00pm | Sat, Feb 26 @ 2:00pm | Sun, Feb 27 @ 1:00pm

TV: ACC Network (Friday) | ACCNX (Saturday | Sunday)

Radio: GoPack.com (Friday | Saturday | Sunday) / WKNC 88.1

Live Stats: Sidearm Sports


Tell me about this team

Here’s what we wrote in Part IV of our season preview series:

Quinnipiac will be looking to regain the form the program had in 2018-2019 when they notched a pair of 2nd place finishes in the MAAC, as well as a MAAC tourney title in 2019 that sent them to the Greenville Regional, their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005. Making things more difficult for the Bobcats will be having to replace their top four hitters from a year ago - and that’s from a team that hit .251/.339/.363 as a group. The Bobcats will need the new blood to improve the offense. That group includes transfer outfielders Anthony Donofrio and Sean Swenson, as well as freshman infielders Ryan Grace and Zak Thomas. Brandyn Garcia returns to head the pitching staff, but the coaching staff will need to identify another capable pair of starting arms if they are to move back to the top half of the MAAC this year. Kevin Seitter has swing-and-miss stuff, but it also comes with miss-the-zone issues. Andrew Cubberly made only a pair of appearances last year, but one of those was a 4.2 IP, 0 H, 10 K effort in May. You hate to put a lot of pressure on one young, unproven arm, but a staff in this dire need of improvement might not have another option. Grad transfer Carter Poiry is poised to make in immediate impact while freshmen Ryan Hutchinson and Mason Ulsh add arms to the staff.

Of course three of the freshman I listed above have yet to appear in a game for Quinnipiac... ugh. I digress.

It’s been a rough last couple seasons since Quinnipiac made the Greenville Regional back in 2019, the same one NC State played in, and made some big time noise by knocking off the host Pirates in the opener. They ended up dropping their second game by blowing a one-run lead in the 9th to Campbell, then got sent back to Connecticut later that same day by ECU.

Since then, the Bobcats are just 10-32. The hope, of course, is that head coach and former Bobcat standout player John Delaney can get things back on track. The hitting thus far is looking strong, plenty capable of pulling their weight. The team gets on base well and is aggressive once there, although they do have the issue of striking out at a well-above average clip. Pound out enough hits and runs, though (they’ve scored 29 in three games), and the strikeouts can be bearable.

The issue, as it has been for Delaney for the entirety of his coaching tenure with Quinnipiac, will be the pitching. The pitching staff gave up 36 runs over their first three games of the season. It seems the Bobcats have guys who can either pound the zone, but also get their pitches pounded, or miss a ton of bats, but also the zone altogether. Finding a happy medium between those two extremes will be key to success in the MAAC this year for the team.


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Friday: LHP Brandyn Garcia (JR)

Saturday: RHP Kevin Seitter (JR)

Sunday: LHP Tate Copeland (SO)


Key Players:

Offense

C Danny Melnick (JR) - .600/.636/1.000, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 R, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 0 K, 0 HBP, 0-0 SB. A surprise offensive contributor early who’s had three hits in each of his two games. Hit just .133 over his first two years on campus combined. His defense... well, he’s allowed six passed balls and three stolen bases in two games. If his bat keeps up, they’ll find a spot for him in the lineup every game.

SS McGwire Tuffy (JR) - .462/.533/.692, 0 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 6 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 0-0 SB. Come on! This guy’s name is MCGWIRE TUFFY!!! NC State should have offered him on name alone. The lefty-hitting undersized shortstop is getting his first crack at a starting role this year.

CF Anthony Donofrio (JR) - .462/.563/.538, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K, 0 HBP, 2-3 SB. Leadoff hitter who had a nice first weekend. Lefty hitter is a transfer from D-III SUNY Cortland.

1B/3B Sam LaChance (SR) - .333/.438/.417, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K, 0 HBP, 0-0 SB. A .245 career hitter who has been a three-year starter, but battled injuries throughout his career.

Pitching

LHP Brandyn Garcia (JR) - 0-1, 2.25 ERA, 4.0 IP, 1 H, 5 BB, 4 K. Started six games last year, including tossing a pair of complete games. Racked up 42 strikeouts over his 33.1 innings in 2021, so the swing-and-miss stuff is there.

RHP Kevin Seitter (JR) - 0-1, 10.80 ERA, 5.0 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 5 K. Got roughed up in his first start. Control has been an issue in his career (19 BB, 10 HBP in 31.1 IP).

LHP Tate Copeland (SO) - 0-0, 18.00 ERA, 2.0 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 5 K. Made the MAAC All-Rookie Team in 2021, although that must have been a weak year for rookies in the conference because he had a 7.80 ERA and walked 18 batters in 15.0 innings. He did have 20 K, though, so maybe that was it. High leg-kick with an upright delivery, but solid breaking ball.

RHP Mason Ulsh (FR) - 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 5 K. Not overpowering stuff, but the 34 arm slot gives some great run on his pitches. The lack of top velo and being a northeast prep arm probably worked against him in recruiting. Might end up being a steal for Quinnipiac down the line.

RHP Carter Poiry (SR) - 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 K. Grad transfer from Murray State where he was a reliever with control issues. Prior to Murray State, he spent two years in JUCO ball after starting his career at Western Illinois.


Quick! Fun Facts!

McGwire Tuffy.

Quinnipiac is the only Division I baseball school that starts with the letter Q, but they are one of three D1 baseball schools nicknamed the ‘Bobcats’. Can you name the other two?

They don’t have a player on the roster from south of Maryland, although LaChance did attend IMG Academy in Florida, but he’s originally from New Hampshire.


Prediction

The Wolfpack will be rolling out the same rotation as last weekend (Highfill, Willadsen, Harrison). State holds the advantage here at the bat and on the mound, but Quinnipiac teams under Delaney are known to play with confidence, so they won’t be intimidated by the Pack’s results to date. State should sweep again, but sweeps are hard.

Outcome: State takes all three games