NC State Baseball Returns To ACC Play At Georgia Tech
March 17, 2005
RALEIGH, N.C. - The road gets a little tougher for the NC State baseball team this weekend. After traveling to Miami for a three-game series to open the Atlantic Coast Conference season and then hosting Maryland for three games, the Wolfpack (15-5 overall, 3-3 in the ACC) heads to Atlanta this weekend to take on a Georgia Tech team that is as hot as any team in the country.
Georgia Tech is never an easy assignment, and the 2005 Yellow Jackets have been anything but easy for opponents. Ranked fifth by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and sixth by Collegiate Baseball magazine, Tech is 16-2 on the season, 6-0 in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets swept Wake Forest last weekend to set a new conference record of 22 consecutive ACC victories. The previous mark of 21 was first set by North Carolina from 1963-65 and tied by Clemson from 1987-88.
Tech comes into the series this weekend hitting .362 as a team. The Jackets have banged out 32 home runs in 18 games, have a team slugging percentage of .590 and a team on-base percentage of .474. Tech has scored 15 or more runs in each of its last six games. The Yellow Jackets have scored in double figures for eight consecutive game, scoring 121 runs in those eight games.
If recent form holds, the series could be a very high-scoring affair. While its numbers are not quite as gaudy as Georgia Tech's, NC State also has hit the ball at a pretty robust clip this season. Hitting .325 as a team with a .479 slugging percentage and a .412 on-base percentage, the Wolfpack has scored 10 runs or more in a game eight times so far this season. A year ago, the Wolfpack scored in double digits just nine times in 60 games. The Pack is averaging 8.1 runs and 11.3 hits per game, and has collected 10 or more hits in a game 15 times in 20 games, including six of the last seven games. In those seven games, NC State is hitting .337 (89-for-264) with 20 doubles, three triples and five home runs.
THE STARTING PITCHERS: Sophomore righthander Jeff Stallings (3-1, 516) will start the series opener for NC State. This will be Stallings' seventh appearance and his sixth start. He has thrown 29 2/3 innings and allowed 17 runs on 33 hits. Stallings has walked 13 and struck out 19. In his last start, March 11 vs. Maryland at Doak Field, Stallings had his roughest outing of the season, allowing four runs on six hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out four. He did not figure in the decision.
Redshirt-junior lefthander Branden Knapp (1-0, 3.75), a transfer from Midland (Texas) Junior College, will start Saturday in the middle game of the series. Knapp has made four appearances, including one start. In 12 innings, he has allowed five runs on eight hits. He has walked one and struck out seven. In his last appearance, a start March 9 at UNC Wilmington, Knapp worked six shutout innings to earn his first college decision. Knapp allowed the Seahawks just two hits, struck out three and did not walk a batter. He retired the first nine men he faced, and faced the minimum 18 hitters over six innings. He allowed two baserunners. One was erased on a double play, the other trying to advance on a wild pitch.
Sophomore righthander Gib Hobson (4-1, 3.77) will start on Sunday for the Wolfpack. Hobson has made six appearances, all starts, and has allowed 18 runs, 13 of them earned, in 23 1/3 innings. He has walked eight and struck out 24. In his last start, March 12 vs. Maryland at Doak Field, Hobson threw the first no-hitter by an NC State pitcher in 12 years, beating Maryland 11-1. The one Terrapin run scored on a walk, an error and a groundout, and was unearned. Hobson walked four and struck out a career-high 11, which also is a season high for strikeouts for any NC State pitcher. The last no-hitter by a Wolfpack hurler was on March 26, 1993, by Terry Harvey against Florida State.
NC STATE VS. GEORGIA TECH: The Yellow Jackets lead the overall series with the Wolfpack by a 56-41 margin. And while the series has been spirited and competitive since Tech joined the ACC in 1983, the Jackets have held the upper hand in recent years, winning the last three meetings between the two schools, and eight of the last 10, dating back to 2002. NC State's last victory in the series was a 6-0 five-hitter by Nate Cretarolo in the second round of the 2003 ACC Tournament. NC State is 11-24 against Georgia Tech over the last 10 years, and 9-18 since Elliott Avent became head coach for the 1997 season.
A year ago, Georgia Tech took both games in an ACC series shortened by rain to a Saturday doubleheader. Tech won the first game of the twin-bill 6-1 behind seven strong innings from Micah Owings, who went 2-for-4 at the plate and drove in the game-winning run. Clifton Remole had a two-run homer for the Yellow Jackets. In the second game, Georgia Tech scored four runs in the top of the third inning en route to a 7-3 victory. Steven Blackwood drove in three runs and Andrew Kown pitched seven strong innings. The game was stopped after eight innings due to rain.
MUYCO'S HITTING STREAK: With five hits against Maryland last weekend, junior catcher Jake Muyco extended his hitting streak to 17 games, the fourth longest by an NC State hitter since Elliott Avent became head coach in 1997. Muyco has hit safely in every game this season except for the February 5 games against Delaware State, the second game of the season. He is hitting an even .400 (26-for-65) during his hitting streak, but .414 for the season (he went 3-for-4 in the season-opener vs. Delaware State).
The longest hitting streak in school history was a 26-game streak by Greg Briley in 1986. Tom Sergio had a 25-game streak in 1995.
NC State's Longest Hitting Streaks