Who’s the Pack playing?
Mascot: Spiders | School Location: Richmond, VA | Conference: A10
2023 Record: 21-24 (10-7, 4th) | 2023 RPI Rank: 245
2022 Record: 30-26 (11-13, 7th) | 2022 RPI Rank: 219
2021 Record: 24-24 (11-13, 4th South) | 2021 RPI Rank: 170
When? Where? How do I watch?
Location: Doak Field at Dail Park (Raleigh, NC)
Game Time(s): Tues, May 8 @ 6:00pm
TV: Tuesday (ACCNX)
Radio: The Varsity Network (Tuesday)
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Tell me about this team
Welcome home, Tracy Woodson!
Well, technically he’s coaching for his hometown school, so that “welcome home” is more in the “welcome back to your alma mater” sense.
Woodson was the ACC Player of the Year and a 2nd team All-American in 1984 for the Wolfpack, a year in which he drove in 77 runs and set a then program record for home runs in a single season with 25. He still sits 3rd on the NC State career list with 46 career dingers, and his .930 slugging percentage in 1984 is still a program record (his .720 career slugging percentage is also the best mark in program history).
Following the 1984 season, Woodson was a 3rd round pick of the Dodgers and went on to play five seasons in the Majors, including playing 65 games for the 1988 World Series Champion Dodgers team under Tommy Lasorda.
Woodson got his start in coaching as a minor league manager across five levels of the minors before he jumped into the college game as the head coach at Valparaiso. He led the Crusaders to a pair of Horizon League Tournament championships in 2012 and 2013 (plus a regular season title in 2012), taking Valpo to NCAA Regionals both years. He left after the 2013 season to take over at Richmond.
He hasn’t been able to find that same level of success in his nine full seasons with the Spiders, but then again, but then again, the program hasn’t had a lot of success since the early 2000’s. In a nine-year period from 1995-2003 under former coach Ron Atkins, Richmond made six NCAA Regional appearances including making the Lincoln Super Regional in 2002 (they lost in three games to the Cornhuskers).
Woodson’s best Richmond team was his 2019 squad that went 15-9 in the A10 and finished 117 in RPI, although the 2022 team was almost the breakthrough that that Woodson’s been looking for. Last year’s squad made a run to the A10 Tournament final, but fell 10-7 to crosstown rival VCU.
This year’s Spider squad, like most of Woodson’s squads, can mash. They are collectively hitting to the tune of a .302/.397/.476 slash line with an 11.3 BB% and 16.5 K% (comparatively, NC State is hitting .302/.404/.525 with a 12.5 BB% and 17.2 K%). The lineup is experienced and steady. They can score some runs.
The issue is the pitching. The weekend rotation is solid enough with Brock Weirather, Jeremy Neff, and Brenden Argomaniz pitching well enough, especially with Esteban Rodriguez and Kyle Subers there to support those guys as basically arms serving in the same capacity that Dom Fritton has for the Wolfpack the last few weeks. The rest of the bullpen is the problem. You either have guys who can miss bats, but also miss the strikezone at an alarmingly high rate, or you have guys who can pound the zone but also get their pitches pounded in return. Such is the case.
Richmond is just two games out of first place in the A10 as it stands right now with series remaining against VCU and conference leader Davidson. That’s a lot of games to make up in two weeks, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Should the starting rotation hold up well enough come A10 tourney time, this is a group plenty capable of getting Woodson back to an NCAA Regional for the first time in a decade.
Who’s on the mound for these guys?
Tuesday: LHP Brian Reinke (SO)
LF Johnny Hipsman (rSR) - .379/.432/.643, 8.3 BB%, 8.3 K%, 5-6 SB. Left-handed two-hole hitter is en fuego right now, currently riding an 18-game hitting streak and has multiple hits in five straight (12-for-22, 2 2B, 3B, 4 HR during that span).
3B Jordan Jaffe (FR) - .327/.406/.611, 9.6 BB%, 19.3 K%, 0-1 SB. Big 6’3, 220 lbs California native has hits in 14 of the last 15. Quite the find for the Spiders program as he appears to be a solid all-around hitter. Only two errors at the hot corner over the last 20 games, so the glove is solid, too.
2B Jared Sprague-Lott (JR) - .323/.434/.620, 16.6 BB%, 12.6 K%, 2-4 SB. Philly native is having himself a year. Was an A10 All-Rookie team selection in 2021 when he was more of a line-drive hitter, but changed to a loft approach last year with the results coming this year. Great contact skills.
LHP Brian Reinke (SO) - 0-1, 0 SV, 9.90 ERA, 10.0 IP, 18.3 BB%, 18.3 K%. Lightly used arm over his first two years on campus. Control is a major issue (11 BB, 5 HBP, 5 WP), so patience is the name of the game for opposing hitters.
RHP Esteban Rodriguez (SO) - 2-2, 2 SV, 4.56 ERA, 51.1 IP, 6.8 BB%, 27.0 K%. Serves more in a follower role than a true reliever. Has thrown between 60 and 78 pitches in each of his 15 outings, with just one of those being a start. He’s a weekend arm, though, so doubtful he goes in this one.
RHP Kyle Subers (SR) - 4-0, 1 SV, 4.30 ERA, 37.2 IP, 13.3 BB%, 29.1 K%. Grad transfer from Lafayette where he started 24 games over four seasons. Like Rodriguez, he’s a follower role arm. Threw 79 pitches on Sunday, so there’s basically a zero percent chance he goes in this one.
Quick! Fun Facts!
Richmond redshirt-junior CF Alden Mathes (.280/.423/.470, 13.7 BB%, 15.1 K%) was a 19th round draft pick by the Orioles last year, but chose to return to Richmond for his fourth season. The lefty also pitches for the team and was amazing for them last year (3-2, 3.35 ERA, 43.0 IP, 10.9 BB%, 30.1 K%), but he’s been more lightly used this year, although still striking dudes out like crazy (0-1, 3 SV, 6.75 ERA, 9.1 IP, 11.1 BB%, 35.6 K%).
Woodson is third in career coaching victories at Richmond with 202. He has a long way to catch second place Malcolm Pitt (426 wins), and even further to go to catch Ron Atkins in first place (717 wins).
The Spiders have produced quite a few notable MLB alums, including RHP Lew Burdette (18 years in the bigs), OF Brian Jordan (15 years), 1B Sean Casey (12 years), and RHP Tim Stauffer (10 years).
Almost unbelievable, but Richmond does not have a single player from the state of North Carolina on their team despite having 13 states represented on the roster.
NC State’s apparently going to run Baker Nelson out there again, what with his 9.42 ERA as a starter this year. If State gets Good Baker, they’ll cruise. If they get Bad Baker, it’ll be a slog and likely take yet another midweek comeback win.
Oh, and NC State can’t afford to lose this game with regards to its NCAA Regional resume.
Outcome: Wolfpack win 12-8.
UPDATE: Game Cancelled
Schedule Update: Tonight's game against Richmond has been canceled due anticipated inclement weather. Release ⬇️— #Pack9 ⚾️ (@NCStateBaseball) May 9, 2023
Not a bad thing, given that even a win was going to ding NC State’s RPI.