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Opponent Preview: Wagner

Meet the Seahawks... NC State’s first opponent of 2023

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAY 19 Wake Forest at N.C. State Photo by Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Wagner

Mascot: Fightin’ Bobbies | School Location: Staten Island, NY | Conference: Northeast

2023 Record: 0-0 (0-0, T-1st) | 2023 RPI Rank: N/A

2022 Record: 17-34 (12-15, T-5th) | 2022 RPI Rank: 245

2021 Record: 11-25 (8-22, T-6th) | 2021 RPI Rank: 274

When? Where? How do I watch?

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

Game Time(s): Fri, Feb 17 @ 3:00pm | Sat, Feb 18 @ 2:00pm | Sun, Feb 19 @ 1:00pm

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

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

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats

Tell me about this team

The thing I love about the season opening opponent is that I can straight copy-paste from the season preview series:

Craig Noto enters Year 2 in his attempt to build up the historically weak Seahawks program. Since 1999, Wagner has only posted two seasons ranking inside the Top 200 in RPI, with one of those being a 192 ranking in 2009 and the other being the extreme outlier that was the 2018 season where the Seahawks finished #76 in RPI. Wagner will get a boost with the return of four of their top five hitters from a year ago. Seniors RF Dante Faicchio (.916 OPS, 9.3 BB%, 12.0 K%), CF Maimu Kobayashi (.838 OPS, 8.9 BB%, 15.2 K%), 1B/OF Griffin Selby (.838 OPS, 10.5 BB%, 20.9 K%), and INF Cody Bey (.838 OPS, 9.6 BB%, 10.3 K%) should provide a nice base while the lineup works its way out around them. Replacing four-year starting SS Mike Ruggiero will be the hardest task.

Pitching will be the big question mark. Theoretically, the entire weekend rotation returns in SO RHP Frankie Wright (6-4, 6.04 ERA, 67.0 IP, 9.9 BB%, 15.2 K%), SO RHP Daniel Merkel (0-9, 7.15 ERA, 50.1 IP, 16.9 BB%, 10.8 K%), and JR LHP Eli Shedd (3-0, 1 SV, 2.25 ERA, 32.0 IP, 11.3 BB%, 22.6 K%), but the production will need to increase dramatically if success is to be found. Wright and Merkel will be entering their sophomore years which should bring with it a bump in effectiveness, and Shedd appeared to turn a corner late last year (12.0 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 16 K over his last two starts), but he’ll need to show that was no fluke. Wagner used a lot of arms in 2022 with not much success. For better or worse, the Seahawks return 85.0% of their innings pitched from last year. Transfers JR RHP Julian Chabot (Everett CC) and SR RHP Alec Burnett (Univ. of Indianapolis) should provide reinforcements to make up for - and most likely provide improvement on - the lost arms.

Maybe it’s because they were the first opponent that I previewed, but I’m pretty high on Wagner this year. Are they a Regional caliber team? No, but they can make some noise in the Northeast Conference. Defending conference champ Long Island returns as does perennially strong Central Connecticut State, but Bryant is gone (off to the America East) and Fairleigh Dickinson looks to be in a rebuild year. This Wagner team should be better than five conference newcomers (Coppin State, Delaware State, Maryland Eastern Shore, Norfolk State, Stonehill), so a top three finish in the conference is definitely on the table.

Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Friday: RHP Daniel Merkel (SO)

Saturday: RHP Julian Chabot (JR)

Sunday: RHP Frankie Wright (SO)

Key Players:


RF Dante Faicchio (SR) - .285/.367/.549, 9.3 BB%, 12.0 K%, 8-10 SB. Earned 2022 1st Team All-NEC honors in his first year with the program after transferring in from Irvine Valley College. Started off his career at Pepperdine before going the JUCO route. Posted 15 multi-hit games last year.

CF Maimu Kobayashi (SR) - .321/.431/.408, 8.9 BB%, 15.2 K%, 8-14 SB. Former JUCO transfer (Sacramento City College) and native of Japan. The 5’7, 168 pound right-handed leadoff hitter has a solid all-field approach and is willing to work into two-count strikes because of great contact skills.

LF/1B Griffin Selby (SR) - .273/.373/.465, 10.5 BB%, 20.9 K%, 3-4 SB. Big 6’4, 225 pound right-handed hitter who started his career at Santa Ana College in California (sensing a JUCO theme here?). Good all-around hitter who has more pop in his bat than he’s shown so far.

3B Cody Bey (SR) - .333/.404/.433, 9.6 BB%, 10.3 K%, 9-10 SB. Long Beach, CA, native (sensing a West Coast theme in the Big Apple?). Hasn’t played a full season yet for Wagner, but impressed in the Perfect Game Collegiate League last summer, slashing .299/.427/.374 with 21 stolen bases and a 32:18 BB:K ratio in 46 games.


RHP Daniel Merkel (SO) - 0-9, 7.15 ERA, 50.1 IP, 16.9 BB%, 10.8 K%. Talk about a brutal first year. The 5’10 righty was thrust into the starting rotation and took his lumps, but also showed some promising outings that indicate better things in 2023.

RHP Julian Chabot (JR) - JUCO transfer from Everett CC. Control is his biggest limiting factor, as he carried a 13.6 BB% in JUCO ball last year and a 19.0 BB% in the West Coast League last summer. Hitters appear to have a hard time squaring him up, but patient hitters don’t have to worry about that.

RHP Frankie Wright (SO) - 6-4, 6.04 ERA, 67.0 IP, 9.9 BB%, 15.2 K%. The South Jersey native was a 2nd Team All-NEC selection as a freshman last year, one of just two freshman in the entire conference to earn all-conference honors (the NEC doesn’t do an All-Freshman/Rookie team). The 6’0, 190 pounder was a bit of a late bloomer and was pumping low 90’s a year ago before putting on 15 pounds in the offeseason.

LHP Eli Shedd (JR) - 3-0, 1 SV, 2.25 ERA, 32.0 IP, 11.3 BB%, 22.6 K%. Slated to be the team’s midweek starter, it’ll be interesting to see how, if, and/or, when they use their best left-handed pitcher.

RHP Alec Burnett (SR) - 0-1, 1 SV, 4.63 ERA, 11.2 IP, 25.8 BB%, 29.0 K%. Transfer from D2 University of Indianapolis. As the numbers tell, has some really good stuff, but also some serious control issues.

Quick! Fun Facts!

Wagner has one NCAA tournament appearance in their baseball history, which came in 2000 when they got bounced in two games down in the Coral Gables regional.

The Seahawks have had five alums reach the Major Leagues, with RHP Andrew Bailey having the most successful career, having pitched at the MLB level from 2009-2017 with five different organizations. Wagner had two former players reach the MLB level in 2019 (OF Ian Miller, C Nick Dini), although they were only up for a combined 32 games.

There are 15 west coast players (CA, WA) on the 2023 Wagner roster, not including Kobayashi. The Seahawks also have two NC natives: SO C Matthew Kenney (Matthews; Siena College transfer) and FR RHP Will Saxenmeyer (Holly Springs).


The Wolfpack typically come out of the gates swinging a hot bat (they’ve averaged over 10 runs/game in season-opening series from 2019-2022), and while expecting an average of double-digit runs per game is a bit foolish, the expectation should be that the Pack bats start off strong. Pitching is going to be the real question given returns from injury and some first-year arms making NC State debuts.

Apologies in advance for this kiss-of-death, but State hasn’t lost a game in a season-opening series since 2018. Let me try and jinx that jinx...

Outcome: State takes two of three