Baseball Looking For Midweek Bounce Back
RALEIGH, N.C. After a tough weekend in Miami, NC State returns home to Doak Field at Dail Park this week and will look to rebound from its sweep at the hands of the Hurricanes with midweek games against George Mason and North Carolina A&T.
The Wolfpack and Patriots will meet on Tuesday at 3 p.m. The game will be a battle of freshmen righthanders. Zak Sinclair (1-0, 1.08) will toe the rubber for NC State. Kevin Lingerman (0-0, 2.45) will be on the bump for GMU. The Aggies come to town Wednesday for a 6:30 p.m. game, the first home night game of 2009. Senior righthander Jason Zinser (0-0, 0.00) will start for the Wolfpack. The Aggies’ pitching plans were unannounced.
NC State is coming off a painful weekend in Coral Gables. The Wolfpack lost all three games to the Hurricanes, but could have won all three. The Pack led the first game 6-5 with two out and none on in the bottom of the 12th inning, only to have Ryan Jackson draw a walk and Jason Hagerty end it with a two-run walk-off home run. The 12-inning game followed a 27-inning doubleheader vs. Villanova and Akron by less than 48 hours. The Akron game was a school-record 18 innings.
Miami shut out the Pack in the second game, 4-0, but Jackson, arguably the best defensive shortstop in college baseball, robbed the Pack of at least three runs with a couple of defensive gems, one of which may have prevented a big inning.
NC State led the series finale 7-0 after three innings, but the Miami bullpen allowed just three hits the rest of the game, and the Canes rallied to take a 9-7 victory thanks in large part to a seven-run fifth inning.
“That’s a tough weekend,” Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent said. “We did enough good things to win the first game, but just couldn’t close it out. [Starting pitcher] David Gutierrez pitched a terrific game Saturday, and when we had a chance to do some damage, Ryan Jackson made a couple of plays you’d have to see to believe. We had a 7-0 lead on Sunday and couldn’t hold it. It was just a difficult weekend. Now we have to put it behind us and get ready for a couple of important midweek games.”
George Mason comes to Raleigh with a 7-3 record after a three-game sweep of Army over the weekend. Junior catcher Chris Henderson leads the Patriots with a .478 average, four doubles, four home runs and 11 RBIs, all tied for the team lead. Senior outfielder Scott Krieger also had four long balls and 11 RBIs to go with a .310 average. The Patriots are hitting .338 as a team and have 13 home runs in 10 games.
The Aggies got off to a rough start, losing their first five games and allowing 10 or more runs in each, but have recovered to win thre of their last four, including a doubleheader sweep of Savannah State on February 28 and a doubleheader split with Longwood this past Thursday.
Freshman outfielder Xavier Macklin leads the Aggies with a .371 average, five doubles, a home run and five RBIs. Junior outfielder C.J. Beatty is the team’s top run-producer, having driven in eight runs while hitting .355 with three doubles and two homers.
The Wolfpack’s offensive numbers took a bit of a hit in Coral Gables. Senior outfielder Devon Cartwright had a big weekend, going 4-for-9 with a double, a home run and five RBIs, and junior outfielder Wade Moore was 3-for-9 with his first two college home runs and four RBIs. Freshman infielder Andrew Ciencin went 2-for-4 with a double on Sunday, and freshman first baseman Harold Riggins was 3-for-7 with a double in starts Friday and Sunday.
“We faced a very good pitching staff over the weekend,” Avent said. “Miami’s bullpen was good all weekend and their starters were strong Friday and Saturday. We’ve still got work to do offensively, but this team has a strong work ethic. We’re going to keep at it until we get it right.”
The team hit just .202 (21-for-104) during the series, however. Senior third baseman Drew Martin leads the team with a .333 average, with freshman . Junior shortstop Kyle Wilson is hitting just .231 but leads the team with 12 RBIs, while Martin has 11, and Maynard has a team-best three homers to go with nine RBIs.
Following the Mason and A&T games, the Wolfpack will take Thursday off to prepare for the second ACC series of the season, this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday vs. Maryland at Doak Field at Dail Park. Game times are 3 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. WKNC-FM (88.1) will broadcast all three games live, and the broadcasts will be available on-line at gopack.com on the Pack Pass package.