Who’s the Pack playing?
Mascot: Beach Bread Beggars | School Location: You’ll never guess, NC | Conference: CAA
2022 Record: 18-12 (3-3, 5th) | 2022 RPI Rank: 106
2021 Record: 32-22 (13-8, 1st South) | 2021 RPI Rank: 59
2020 Record: 11-5 (0-0, T-1st) | 2020 RPI Rank: 74
When? Where? How do I watch?
Location: Doak Field at Dail Park (Raleigh, NC)
Game Time: Tues, Apr 12 @ 6:00pm
TV: ACCNX (Tuesday)
Radio: The Varsity Network (Tuesday)
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Tell me about this team
I’m not really sure what to think about this UNCW team. They were expected to hit the mess out of the ball and push across a ton of runs, and while they’ve been perfectly fine at that, it hasn’t been quite to the prolific level projected. Call it unrealistic expectations.
The pitching was supposed to be a year away with a ton of young arms getting experience before turning the corner in 2023. Instead, the pitching staff has arrived early. R.J. Sales and Zane Taylor look fantastic as true freshmen starters. Injuries have been significant, though, with Matt Gaither getting knocked from the starting rotation and Bryce Cota getting shelved as their top reliever. Cyle Phelan moved from the bullpen into the rotation with great results, but that only further hurt an inexperienced bullpen.
And that’s where this team’s ceiling will be established. There are some big time arms in the pen, but can they be reliable enough to accentuate a strong rotation? If the bats click and the bullpen can be just average, this team could start laying waste to the CAA.
Who’s on the mound for these guys?
Tuesday: RHP Carter Holjes (rSO)
2B Brooks Baldwin (rJR) - .361/.412/.648, 11 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 29 R, 28 RBI, 12 BB, 23 K, 0 HBP, 13-15 SB. Top draft prospect in the lineup. Was a 15th round pick last year before coming back to school for one more year. Will be an easy top-10 round pick this year as he has defensive flexibility and provides switch-hitting ability. He’s UNCW’s Tyler McDonough.
CF/LF Dillon Lifrieri (rSO) - .306/.363/.587, 11 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 26 R, 22 RBI, 9 BB, 21 K, 3 HBP, 3-4 SB. Former transfer from San Diego. Has shown a huge jump in power this year which will put him on the draft radar. Currently riding a 10-game hitting streak.
SS Taber Mongero (rJR) - .331/.373/.475, 9 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 27 R, 15 RBI, 7 BB, 18 K, 1 HBP, 0-2 SB. Undersized middle infielder who started his career at Gardner-Webb. Has put together three-hit efforts in four of the last six games and hasn’t struck out in the last five games. Superb eye at the plate and contact skills as he’s struck out just three times in the last 11 games.
RHP Carter Holjes (rSO) - 2-0, 0 SV, 4.30 ERA, 14.2 IP, 12 H, 11 BB, 10 K. Local kid from Cardinal Gibbons HS in Raleigh. Also attended Pro5 Academy earlier in his prep career. This will be his first career start. Walks can be his undoing and he typically uses a lot of pitches to get through innings, although he was efficient and effective in his last outing against VMI (2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 27 pitches).
RHP Marty Gair (FR) - 1-1, 0 SV, 5.23 ERA, 10.1 IP, 8 H, 11 BB, 16 K. Big frame, big arm, big velo. If Gair can develop consistent control over the next couple years in Wilmington, he’ll be a 1st round draft pick. When he’s locating, he’s basically unhittable.
RHP Cody Benton (rSO) - 0-2, 0 SV, 7.11 ERA, 6.1 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 8 K. Transfer from ECU is finally healthy and finally getting some run with the rash of injuries in the pitching staff. Has a good frame and solid potential. Had one really bad outing against Ohio State (0.2 IP 4 ER, 3 BB), but has otherwise been solid including back-to-back scoreless outings in his last two appearances.
RHP Hunter Hodges (SO) - 1-1, 3 SV, 7.15 ERA, 11.1 IP, 6 H, 14 BB, 22 K. The team’s closer, although of the hold-your-breath variety. Was a 1st Team All-CAA selection last year as a freshman when he posted a line of: 2-3, 3 SV, 4.38 ERA, 39.0 IP, 21 H, 28 BB, 52 K. Batters have hit just .157 against him in his career.
Quick! Fun Facts!
UNCW is 16-6 at home this year, but just 2-6 on the road including midweek losses at Campbell (8-9) and UNC (4-6).
NC State was the first ACC school to schedule UNCW after the Seahawks moved up from a JUCO school to an NAIA program in 1964.
There is a lot of roster crossover in this one. NC State’s Logan Adams and UNCW’s Taber Mongero both played their JUCO ball at the College of Central Florida, although they missed each other by a season. UNCW’s Kevin Pitarra played at Green Hope HS in Cary, the same school as current Pack player Payton Green. The Seahawks Ethan Chenault was a high school teammate of State’s Garrett Payne at The Miller School in Virginia where they played for former MLB pitcher Billy Wagner. Pro5 Academy is well-represented in the game, too, with UNCW players Zane Taylor, Ron Evans, and Carter Holjes having played there as well as NC State players Payton Green and Will Marcy. Matt Willadsen and UNCW’s Bryan Arendt were prep teammates at Holly Springs HS. NC State’s Trey Truitt and UNCW’s Cody Benton were briefly teammates at East Carolina.
UNCW freshman Tripp Edens is the son of former Wolfpack player Larry Edens. Seahawk redshirt sophomore Kevin Pitarra is the younger brother for former NC State player Stephen Pitarra.
The Seahawks have three current players at the MLB level: C Ryan Jeffers, MIN; RHP Evan Phillips, LAD; RHP Austin Warren, LAA.
The Seahawks have supplemented their stronger-than-expected conference schedule with a beefy midweek slate exclusively of matchups with NC State, North Carolina, East Carolina, Coastal Carolina, and Campbell. That’s good schedukong right there!
UNCW has been incredibly competitive in their midweek games thus far despite having a losing record in them. This will be another close game.
Outcome: I feel like this is going to be a one-run outcome either way.