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Taking stock of NC State in ACC play

COLLEGE BASEBALL: APR 26 East Carolina at N.C. State Photo by Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NC State’s 2-4 start to ACC play is disappointing, but the good news is that it’s not as bad as it looks. State has dropped some close games that could have gone either way and in fact has a positive run differential in league games, albeit a modest +1. But that at least implies that State should have one more win than it does. It’s not like this team has been uncompetitive.

As a team, the Wolfpack is hitting .283/.358/.447 (805 OPS) over these first three series, while opponents are hitting .249/.331/.421 (752 OPS). State’s pitching staff needs to cut down on mistakes to start turning this thing around: they’ve allowed 11 home runs already and 28 extra base-hits total. Extra-base hits account for more than a third of opponents’ total hits (74).

Let’s take a quick look at the good and the bad from an individual standpoint early on:

The good

Jacob Cozart is raking to the tune of .556/.639/.963; Noah Soles is hitting .400/.444/.533; Parker Nolan is hitting .321/.345/.571; and Cannon Peebles is at .286/.394/.571.

Freshman Dominic Fritton is proving he can handle weekend starter duties, with a 1.26 ERA and 20/4 K/BB in three starts. Matt Willadsen has a 1.47 ERA with 17 strikeouts against eight walks.

Sam Highfill has a 3.18 ERA in five appearances out of the pen, with 10 Ks and two walks. Carson Kelly and John Miralia have only thrown 3-2/3 innings between them, but have yet to allow a run. Baker Nelson has a 4.15 ERA in 4-1/3 IP with eight strikeouts and two walks.

The not-so-good

Carter Trice is hitting just .154 with 14 strikeouts, but given his track record, I have to think he’ll pick it up. Gino Groover is hitting a solid .289 but has just one XBH and is slugging .316. Again, he should pick it up. Kalai Harrison is hitting .231/.318/.282 and he didn’t showcase much of a bat at Texas A&M, so there might not be much improvement to come there.

Friday starter Logan Whitaker has given up three bombs and allowed an average of a hit per inning. He has a 5.52 ERA.

Justin Lawson leads the pen in innings pitched and also has a 12.71 ERA with four home runs allowed. Andrew Shaffner has a 6.75 ERA with zero strikeouts and three walks in 2-2/3 innings.

Eleven different relievers have made an appearance as Elliott Avent continues searching for guys he can trust. The picture remains muddy. Hopefully a couple guys will step forward and provide some clarity in April.