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    Baseball To Host Tar Heels This Weekend
    Lefthander Grant Sasser will start Saturday in this weekend's series vs. North Carolina.
    Lefthander Grant Sasser will start Saturday in this weekend's series vs. North Carolina.

    April 14, 2011

    Game Notes (PDF)

    RALEIGH, N.C. — NC State returns home to Doak Field at Dail Park this weekend with a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series vs. fifth-ranked North Carolina. Game times are 6:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

    All three games will be broadcast live on WKNC-FM (88.1) and will be available on-line with streaming video on’s All-Access package. Live stats will be available on Gametracker. Just click the Gametracker icon on the baseball schedule page on

    NC State (18-16 overall and 5-10 in the ACC) is coming off a tough weekend at Miami a week ago. The Wolfpack had won eight of 10 prior to the trip to Coral Gables and will be looking to regain some of the mojo it had earlier this month. North Carolina (30-5 overall, 12-3 in the ACC) has won three in a row and eight of nine.

    NC State will send junior righthander Cory Mazzoni (2-4, 4.07) to the mound Friday evening. He will be opposed by senior righthander Patrick Johnson (6-0, 2.77) for UNC. Junior lefty Grant Sasser (1-2, 1.29) will pitch for the Wolfpack on Saturday. The Tar Heels will counter with freshman lefthander Kent Emanuel (4-1, 2.60). Neither team has announced its starter for the series finale on Sunday.

    NC State vs. North Carolina — The Series
    The Tar Heels lead the overall series between the two schools by a 151-122-1 margin. UNC has won seven of the last 11, and 10 of the last 16 meetings.

    In 14-plus seasons since Elliott Avent became head coach of the Wolfpack, North Carolina has a 23-22 lead in the series. NC State is 13-8 vs. the Tar Heels at Doak Field at Dail Park in that time, 5-13 in Chapel Hill, 1-1 at the USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary, 1-0 in a neutral-site game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, and 2-1 in the ACC Tournament.

    North Carolina won the series from NC State at Boshamer Stadium a year ago, two games to one. The Tar Heels won the opener 14-7 and the finale 9-6. The Wolfpack won the middle game of the series 14-6.

    NC State committed five errors in the opener, leading to nine unearned runs, and Wolfpack pitchers walked 12 UNC batters. Andrew Ciencin had three hits, and Matt Bergquist and Harold Riggins drove in two run apiece for NC State.

    Ciencin homered and drove in four runs in the second game of the series, and Pratt Maynard drove in three runs in the Wolfpack’s win. Cory Mazzoni went 5 2/3 innings to improve to 4-2, and Grant Sasser pitched 3 1/3 shutout innings for his first save.

    NC State was unable to hold a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning of the finale as the Tar Heels scored six runs in the seventh. Chris Schaeffer had three hits for NC State, and Harold Riggins drove in two runs. Alex Sogard started and pitched well for the Wolfpack, allowing two runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings, but the bullpen could not hold the lead.

    Notes About The Starters
    Belying his won-lost record, Mazzoni has been outstanding this season save for a rocky outing April 1 vs. Wake Forest. In four starts from March 4 vs. Penn State through March 25 vs. Clemson, Mazzoni had a 1.27 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings. He has struck out 10 or more in each of his last three outings, and he is 1-2 with a 2.00 ERA in his last five starts, not counting the loss to Wake Forest.

    Mazzoni tossed a complete-game four-hit shutout against No. 15 Clemson on March 25, retiring 16 batters in a row at one point and 20 of 21. He set a career high for strikeouts in an ACC game against the Tigers by fanning 10, which he matched a week later in the loss to Wake Forest.

    On March 18 at No. 21 Georgia Tech, Mazzoni worked 5 1/3 innings, his only outing of the season less than six innings, but held the hard-hitting Yellow Jackets to two earned runs on eight hits. Mazzoni fanned a career-high 13 in seven innings March 4 vs. Penn State.

    On March 11 at Duke, Mazzoni allowed three runs, but only one earned run, on six hits in seven innings, and retired 16 of the last 20 men he faced. And a week ago vs. Miami, Mazzoni allowed three runs in the first inning before retiring18 of 20 batters heading into the eighth. His final line said four runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings, but he pitched much better than that.

    Sasser made his first college start last Sunday at Miami and allowed just one earned run on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He took the loss but deserved better. He retired 11 of the first 13 men he faced and would have pitched five innings with just one run allowed with better defensive support. Prior to starting vs. the Hurricanes, Sasser was a staple in the NC State bullpen the last year-plus.

    Sasser allowed just two earned runs in 16 1/3 innings in his 10 relief appearances this season. He leads the 2011 Wolfpack bullpen with three saves. Earlier this season he pitched 9 2/3 innings without allowing a run, and 12 innings without allowing an earned run.

    A year ago, Sasser was 3-4 with a 3.56 ERA and five saves in a team-leading 26 appearances. In 2010, opponents batted .192 vs. Sasser with runners on base, .182 with runners in scoring position, .237 with two out, .205 with runners on base and two out, and .192 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

    Who’s Hot For The Wolfpack
    The NC State offense began to heat up March 22-23 vs. Northwestern, and the Wolfpack won eight of its next 10 games, the team’s best stretch of the season. The Pack is averaging 5.9 runs per game in the last 14 games heading into this weekend’s series vs. North Carolina.

    After hitting .180 in the first 20 games of the season, Matt Bergquist is batting .349 (15-for-43) with seven doubles, one home run, 10 runs scored and 14 RBIs in the last 14 games.

    Pratt Maynard, who has hit consistently all season and enters the series hitting .336, is hitting .340 (18-for-53) with three doubles, a home run and 10 RBIs in the last 13 games.

    Andrew Ciencin’s average the last 11 games is just .261 (12-for-46), but five of his 12 hits were for extra bases, including four home runs, and he has a team-best 12 RBIs in that time.

    Cameron Conner has eight hits in his last 20 at-bats, including five hits in five at-bats over one stretch, for a .400 average over the last eight games.

    Mazz Forms The 3x10K Club
    Wolfpack righthander Cory Mazzoni struck out 11 Miami batters April 8 in Coral Gables, a new career high for strikeouts for Mazzoni in an Atlantic Coast Conference game, and the third game in a row in which Mazzoni reached double figures in strikeouts.

    Mazzoni struck out 10 on March 25 in a four-hit shutout of Clemson. He whiffed 10 Wake Forest hitters a week later, on April 1. Dating back to March 4 when he struck out 13 vs. Penn State, Mazzoni has struck out 56 in 42 innings over his last six games.

    The media relations office’s records date back only to 1978, but Mazzoni is the only pitcher in that time to strike out 10 or more in three consecutive appearances, although several came close.

    Most recently, Mike Rogers struck out 10 or more in three of four appearances in 2004. Vern Sterry fanned 10 or more four times in a span of six appearances in 2003, but not three games in a row.

    The closest anyone came during the last 34 years was Kurt Blackmon in 1998. Blackmon struck out 11,14 and 15 in a span of three consecutive starts that year, but a relief appearance after the second of those starts snapped the 10K streak.

    Blackmon began the streak by striking out 11 in seven innings on Feb. 25 vs. Virginia Commonwealth. He followed that by fanning 14 in six innings on March 3 vs. Old Dominion. Blackmon’s next appearance was in relief on March 11 vs. Appalachian State, a two-inning, two-strikeout outing. Four days later, Blackmon set a career high with 15 strikeouts in a complete-game victory over Maryland.

    During those four games, Blackmon struck out 42 in 24 innings, an average of 15.8 K’s per nine innings.

    Maynard Challenging School Walk Record
    Pratt Maynard is a selective hitter, which results in a lot of bases on balls. He finished second in the nation a year ago with a school-record 64 walks and leads the Wolfpack this season with 23 through 34 games.

    Maynard enters play vs. North Carolina with 118 career walks, which is tied for sixth in NC State history with Pat Clougherty (1991-94) and Jeremy Dutton (2000-03). Jake Weber (1995-98) and Robbie Bark are the NC State career record holders with 154 walks apiece, with Tom Sergio (1994-97) third with 150.

    Next up the list for Maynard are Brian Wright (121 from 1999-2002) in fifth place and Brian Bark (127 from 1987-90) in fourth.

    Strong Relief For The Wolfpack
    Pitching has been NC State’s strongest and longest suit so far in 2011, and despite a long weekend in Miami, the bullpen has been the backbone of the pitching staff. Through 136 1/3 innings, the bullpen has a 12-3 record with a 3.63 ERA and five saves.

    Four NC State relievers have ERAs below 3.00 — Grant Sasser (1.10), Brandon Price (2.25), Ethan Ogburn (2.20) and Chris Overman (2.55). Overman is 5-1 with a 2.55 ERA and two saves for the season, and has a 1.61 ERA in his last 12 appearances. Overman has stranded eight of 11 inherited baserunners.

    Ogburn is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings in his last four relief outings.Three times in four appearances in mid-March, Price inherited bases-loaded jams and did not allow an inherited runner to score. Price has inherited 14 baserunners from previous pitchers and has stranded 10 of them. Lefthander D.J. Thomas has stranded all seven inherited runners.

    Up Next
    Following this weekend’s series vs. North Carolina, the Wolfpack will host Campbell on Tuesday, April 19, at Doak Field at Dail Park. Game time is set for 6 p.m. On Wednesday, April 20, the Pack will travel to UNC Wilmington for a 6 p.m. game.

    Following the game at UNCW, the Wolfpack will stay on the road and play a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series at Virginia. Game times are 7  p.m. on Friday, 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s game will be televised as the ACC’s TV Game of the Week.

    As always, please visit regularly for full coverage of all NC State athletics news and events.



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