If you can count on one thing year after year in college baseball it is that NC St will come in with fairly high expectations and will end up underachieving. Sometimes they'll shock you when the team has no expectations, but usually they underperform. This year, they came in with high hopes of an ACC title and a trip to Omaha. What they've done thus far on the field hasn't impressed too many.
Right now the Wolfpack are 16-6 with a series loss to Clemson two weeks ago and two midweek losses already. When you come into the year with two preseason All-Americans which include a Friday night starter that went undefeated last year, was ACC freshman of the year, and a concensus All-American who goes out and loses his first game of the season to Appalachian State, you know things aren't going all that great. Their other preseason All-American, Trea Turner, has been out for the last two weeks which hasn't helped measures either.
Fortunately for the Wolfpack they have had a decent amount of success against Coach O'Connor. In his ten years at UVa, Coach Oak's worst record against ACC opponents comes at the hands of the Wolfpack (12-19). For some reason, Elliot Avent just figures out ways to win against the Cavaliers. The two have generally alternated series wins with the home team winning every series dating back to 2008.
Lucky for me, NC St hasn't announced who their starting pitchers are for this weekend. What we can bet on is Carlos Rodon starting the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday. As mentioned above, Rodon came in to the season regarded as one of the best pitchers in the country. The wheels have fallen a part a bit since then. Entering this weekend he has a 2-2 record witha 5.04 ERA. Even though those numbers aren't that great he still has 54 Ks in 30.1 IP to go along with a .183 opponent's batting average. I can't explain how those numbers go together, I just cant.
Overall, their staff has a respectable 3.38 ERA with about a 1-1 strikeout to innings pitched ratio. They also don't walk too many, having only walked 91 batters in 200 innings. Hoos are going to have to be aggressive at the plate because the Wolfpack are going to be around the zone the entire weekend.
The Wolfpack lineup is desperately missing Trea Turner. The burner SS was batting .464 when he went down with a .893 slugging percentage and five home runs. They do have five other batters in the lineup batting .300 or better, but Turner was the engine that drove the car. Soph. OF Jake Fincher has tried to pick up Turner's slack and has done fairly well batting .352 and leading the team in hits. Senor Tarran Senay is also a threat with his .329 batting average. Senay also leads the team in RBI with 24 to go along with four home runs and a .598 slugging percentage.
There are rumors that Turner could be back in the lineup this weekend because he was expected to be cleared to run on Wednesday, but I don't expect the Cavaliers will have to worry about him.
After all that, and with the what they have shown me so far, I think the Hoos will take care of business this weekend. As I did last week, I have to change my prediction from the beginning of the season. I believe I predicted that the Hoos would lose the weekend or be swept. Now, I think the Hoos will win two out of three and assert themselves into the national and ACC pitcher even more.
Doubleheader on Saturday to avoid the snow that is expected to hit Charlottesville on Sunday and a night game on Monday that will be featured on ESPNU.