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Opponent Preview: Wake Forest

Meet the Demon Deacons... A team that can mash

NCAA BASEBALL: JUN 02 Winston-Salem Regional - Wake Forest v UMBC Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Wake Forest

Mascot: Possessed Ordained Ministers | School Location: Not Wake Forest, NC | Conference: ACC

2022 Record: 36-16-1 (12-14-1, 5th Atlantic) | 2022 RPI Rank: 20

2021 Record: 20-27 (10-22, 6th Atlantic) | 2021 RPI Rank: 87

2020 Record: 10-8 (1-2, T-4th Atlantic) | 2020 RPI Rank: 172


When? Where? How do I watch?

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

Game Time(s): Thur, May 19 @ 6:30pm | Fri, May 20 @ 6:30pm | Sat, May 21 @ 1:00pm

TV: Thursday (ACCNX), Friday (ACCNX), Saturday (ACCNX),

Radio: The Varsity Network (Thursday | Friday | Saturday )

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

Wake Forest is all about power: power hitting, power pitching, power everything. They sell out for it.

Good for them.

The team can mash (they’re 8th in the county in slugging percentage) featuring five guys with double-digit homers on the year, led by Brendan Tinsman’s 20 taters. Underrated in it all - and a factor that allows the power to play up even more - is how advanced the team is at working walks, and that’s even including the numbers for Tinsman who is apparently allergic to a base-on-balls.

The pitching features a bunch of power arms, too. Big-haired Rhett Lowder leads the way, but he’s far from the only one on the team who can bring the heat. The starting rotation has been the same group all year and has talent in each arm they throw out there. The bullpen also has a few nice pieces to work with.

And there in lies the truth of it: Wake is a team that has all the components that, if it clicks right, could easily make a run in Charlotte to an ACC Championship. They have three guys who can be great if/when they’re on, a couple reliable multi-inning bullpen arms to tide them over, and a former Freshman All-American closer (Eric Adler) who’s in a funk but could easily snap out of it. The bats are going to play, but even if they’re not destroying the ball, the team can still find a way on base and then just a big hit or two and they can sneak a win.

If you’re looking for a reason to buy on Wake in 2023, just keep in mind that the entire weekend rotation and top three relievers are set to return and their entire lineup technically could, too (although the draft will likely pick off a couple of them).


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Friday: RHP Rhett Lowder (SO)

Saturday: LHP Josh Hartle (FR)

Sunday: RHP Teddy McGraw (SO)


Key Players:

Offense

C Brendan Tinsman (rJR) - .349/.393/.699, 13 2B, 0 3B, 20 HR, 55 R, 57 RBI, 12 BB, 41 K, 5 HBP, 1-1 SB. Tinsman has had a solid career, but he’s on a different level this year. He’s destroying the baseball and the dude loves to take his cuts. On the other side, the guy barely walks (just 3 BB in 123 PA in ACC play). Don’t give him anything to hit and chances are he’ll help you by chasing out of the zone. Leave it over the plate, though, and he’ll make you pay.

1B Nick Kurtz (FR) - .335/.477/.624, 12 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 55 R, 44 RBI, 43 BB, 36 K, 5 HBP, 1-1 SB. Big 6’5 frame with room to add muscle still - this kid could end up being a freak (he kinda already is). The lefty hitter is advanced for his age and the combo of production and projection will have him shooting up 2024 boards.

RF Tommy Hawke (FR) - .378/.510/.474, 7 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 45 R, 19 RBI, 39 BB, 31 K, 3 HBP, 6-9 SB. Undersized (5’6, 160) leadoff man who has produced better than anyone not related to him expected. He’s hitting .417 in ACC play which is amazing. Doesn’t hit for much power (see: size), but he has an advanced feel for hitting.

DH Jake Reinisch (SO) - .343/.493/.558, 14 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 48 R, 46 RBI, 50 BB, 47 K, 3 HBP, 1-2 SB. After getting just 16 PA as a freshman in 2021, he’s been thrust into a big time role in 2022 and he’s produced. Another lefty hitter, he’s a Wake Forest Baseball legacy (his father played for the Deacs from 1988-90 and was drafted by the Tigers).

Pitching

RHP Rhett Lowder (SO) - 9-3, 2.51 ERA, 79.0 IP, 72 H, 19 BB, 88 K. If baseball doesn’t work out for him, he already has a name made for country music. Dude is having one hell of a year, leading the ACC in ERA in conference games. Hasn’t allowed over 3 ER in a start all year and has struck out 11 batters in a game on three separate occasions. Also a guy who doesn’t give up many long balls.

LHP Josh Hartle (FR) - 5-6, 6.09 ERA, 57.2 IP, 74 H, 20 BB, 49 K. One of the top freshman arms in the ACC, but he’s had a rough go of it in conference play to the tune of a 1-6 record and 9.00 ERA. Circle this kid as a potential 2023 breakout player.

RHP Teddy McGraw (SO) - 4-2, 5.04 ERA, 55.1 IP, 46 H, 32 BB, 50 K. If baseball doesn’t work out for him, he also already has a name made for country music. The key against McGraw is simply being patient and not helping him. He has great stuff and gets plenty of swings-and-misses, but make him work and he’ll issue his fair share of free passes. Highly ranked prospect for the 2023 draft.

RHP Camden Minacci (SO) - 2-3, 5 SV, 1.42 ERA, 38.0 IP, 27 H, 14 BB, 52 K. Has not allowed an earned run over his last four outings and has allowed more than one run in an outing just once all year. Made the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List.

LHP Crawford Wade (SO) - 3-0, 0 SV, 2.40 ERA, 30.0 IP, 23 H, 10 BB, 33 K. Has made a huge jump from being awful as a freshman in 2021 to one of the best relief arms for the team in 2022.

RHP Gabe Golob (SR) - 4-0, 0 SV, 2.41 ERA, 41.0 IP, 32 H, 15 BB, 26 K. Grad transfer from NYU who didn’t play in 2021. He’s a contact pitcher, even dating back to his days with the Violets.


Quick! Fun Facts!

Wake Forest claims 40 former Deacs who have played at the MLB level, including two in 2022: OF Stuart Fairchild (Mariners) and 1B Gavin Sheets (White Sox). Fairchild is currently playing in AAA in the Giants organization.

NC State leads the all-time series between the two with a 125-63-1 mark.

Wake Forest redshirt sophomore LHP Zach Grace is a transfer from Iona College, which is the school Jim Valvano was at when NC State hired him in 1980. Grace is also from Sicklerville, NJ, where he attended Timber Creek High School. That’s the same high school as NC State QB Devin Leary. Grace was high school baseball teammates with Leary’s younger brother, Donovan.


Prediction

I don’t know why, I just don’t have a good feeling about this one. Wake may be a shade under .500 in ACC play, but there are a lot of really good pieces on that team. This series scares me, but it’s Senior Series - ain’t no way I’m picking Devo and Power Wheels to finish up in Raleigh on a sour note.

Outcome: State takes two of three.