Who’s the Pack playing?
Opponent: UNC-Greensboro (UNCG)
Mascot: All those bros from the movie 300 | School Location: Greensboro, NC | Conference: Southern
2023 Record: 7-5 (0-0, T-1st) | 2023 RPI Rank: 52
2022 Record: 34-30 (12-9, T-2nd) | 2022 RPI Rank: 94
2021 Record: 27-25 (12-18, 4th Blue) | 2021 RPI Rank: 103
When? Where? How do I watch?
Location: UNCG Baseball Stadium (Greensboro, NC)
Game Time(s): Tues, Mar 7 @ 3:00pm
TV: Tuesday (ESPN+)
Radio: The Varsity Network (Tuesday)
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Tell me about this team
In the NJIT preview I wrote:
[T]his is likely to be the best team that the Pack will face before heading into ACC play next weekend.
Well, that was said because heading into last weekend Coastal Carolina was looking a bit out of sorts and UNCG’s pitching had been a major letdown. Coastal went out and swept Davidson in impressive fashion while UNCG swept a Rutgers team that most pundits were predicting to be an NCAA Regional team. Moreover, UNCG’s pitching (with the exception of one bad inning on Sunday) was fantastic. That obviously changes things.
The Spartans have played a pretty tough schedule early on in 2023 with weekend series against Northeastern, Notre Dame, and Rutgers, as well as a midweek tilt with Wake Forest (that did not go well, to the tune of a 20-2 Demon Deacons rout). Needless to say their on-the-surface 7-5 record downplays the quality of play on the field. The pitching had a much better go of it this past weekend, but it’s still the weakness of the team and will likely be the culprit should UNCG miss out on a 2nd straight NCAA Regional appearance.
UNCG’s lineup has been solid, as key tenet of most every Billy Godwin coached team. They were blanked in the season opener by Northeastern and Wake held them at bay, but they’ve hit seven or more runs on six occasions. There are quality hitters sprinkled throughout the order, including Jacob Cozart’s UNC transfer pitcher-turned-hitter brother, Caleb (1.192 OPS, 6.3 BB%, 31.3 K%).
This is a good, battle-tested team. Wofford looks to be the best in the SoCon this year (again), but if the pitching can hold up, the Spartans could give them another run for their money. If nothing else, this looks like no worse than the 2nd best team in that conference.
Who’s on the mound for these guys?
Wednesday: RHP Caleb Cozart (JR)
SS Zack Budzik (SR) - .364/.475/.485, 12.2 BB%, 12.2 K%, 1-1 SB. Fifth-year senior who feels like he’s been at UNCG for longer than that. Undersized shortstop was a 1st Team All-SoCon player as a freshman in 2019. He’s putting together his best year yet.
RF Dosi Jonas (JR) - .357/.471/.750, 14.7 BB%, 17.6 K%, 1-1 SB. Currently riding a 7-game hitting streak. Breakout player this year who has already started more games in 2023 (7) than he had in his UNCG prior (5).
2B Daniel Cerda (SR) - .366/.449/.488, 6.1 BB%, 12.2 K%, 4-5 SB. Native of the Dominican Republic who is in his third season with the Spartans after starting his college career in the JUCO ranks at Chipola College. Has taken a huge step up in productivity this year, while also turning into a often-used reliever (0-1, 1.59 ERA, 5.2 IP, 16.0 BB%, 28.0 K%).
LF Kennedy Jones (SO) - .306/.407/.449, 8.5 BB%, 18.6 K%, 0-1 SB. Those numbers are impressive alone, but they’re actually lower than what he’s capable of. This guy can straight up hit. The 2022 Freshman All-American is the most dangerous bat in the Spartans lineup.
RHP Caleb Cozart (JR) - 0-0, 12.46 ERA, 4.1 IP, 9.5 BB%, 33.3 K%. Cozart started his career at UNC (boo), tossing 25.0 innings of 6.48 ERA ball as a freshman in 2021. He was much lighter used in 2021 (8.1 IP, 1.08 ERA), despite looking like an improved pitcher. He got out of Chapel Hill (just a solid life move right there) and has been a two-way player for the Spartans. His ERA looks awful above, but that’s where advanced numbers are helpful. The BB% is liveable, the K% is fantastic, and the BABIP (.455) says that he’s been unlucky when opponents do put the ball in play. It’ll be interesting to see if he hits in this game - and obviously the brother vs brother matchup with Jacob is going to be awesome.
RHP Jake Wolf (SR) - 0-0, 3.86 ERA, 16.1 IP, 7.6 BB%, 19.7 K%. I mean, he has to pitch in this game, right? With a name like that? Gotta make it happen. With one more inning pitched he’ll match his career total from the previous four seasons combined. He’s pounding the zone more this year.
RHP Luke Thomas (FR) - 2-1, 1 SV, 4.40 ERA, 14.1 IP, 6.9 BB%, 19.0 K%. On a team in need of pitching depth, Thomas has been a Godsend for Godwin and company. The Climax, NC, native was a three-sport star (baseball, football, basketball) in high school.
Quick! Fun Facts!
The Spartans baseball program is relatively new, having started in 1991. They were quick risers, winning the Big South Conference tournament twice by 1997 and making the Baton Rouge Regional in both of those years.
UNCG is 4-8 all-time in the NCAA Tournament in the program’s four appearances (1994, 1997, 2017, 2022).
UNCG alum and Holly Springs native Andrew Wantz has pitched each of the last two years for the LA Angels.
NC State transfer RHP Brandon Hudson is on the Spartans baseball team, although he has yet to play this year.
This will be a tough one, but Wolfpack starting pitcher P.J. Labriola looked much sharper last time out and the Pack has a deeper bullpen of the two squads, which will make the difference in this one.
Outcome: Wolfpack wins a high-scoring affair.