NC State baseball enters this weekend’s showdown at Tobacco Road rival Duke trying to turn around a rough four-game stretch that has seen the Pack go 1-3. All three defeats featured their opponents — North Carolina twice and UNC Wilmington once — win via runs in the eighth or ninth innings.
Game one on Friday has been moved up to noon to try to beat inclement weather in the forecast and can be seen online on ACC Network Extra. Games two and three are both 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday respectively and will be televised by Regional Sports Network (RSN).
NC State baseball enters the series with a 30-16 overall record, including an 12-11 mark in the ACC. Here is a look at Duke.
Looking At NC State Baseball Opponent: Duke
A year after beating NC State in the ACC Baseball championship game, Duke is struggling to secure a spot into this year’s postseason event.
Going into the weekend, Duke (9-15 in ACC) is on the outside looking in the 12-team field but only a game back in the lost column to Clemson for the final spot. While not many were projecting Duke to repeat as conference champs, few expected Duke to be in this position, too. The Blue Devils are one of just two teams in the ACC with an overall losing record (20-27).
Struggles at the plate are a major reason why. Duke ranks last in the ACC in batting average (.257) and hits (417) while being next-to-last in on-base percentage (.363) and runs scored (277).
The pitching has not been tremendously better, however. Duke has the third highest team earned run average (ERA) in the conference at 5.83. The Blue Devils staff will strike out batters, one of just four teams in the conference to have at least 500 strikeouts as team (502), but only three teams in the ACC have walked more batters than Duke’s 220.
Duke is also tied for the third most wild pitches (48) and has the third most hit batters (63).
Odds are NC State baseball is going with the same trio it used to start the last five series, although Sunday currently is labeled as “TBA.”
NC State redshirt sophomore Logan Whitaker, a righty, will go Friday. In 49.2 innings, Whitaker has allowed 40 hits and a .215 batting average while sporting a 3.44 ERA. Whitaker has struck out 45 while allowing 23 walks.
Red hot sophomore right hander Matt Willadsen will go Saturday. He is 3-3 in 12 starts with a 4.34 ERA while allowing 65 hits in a team-high 66.1 innings. He has surrendered 33 walks while fanning a team-high 73. In Willadsen’s last two starts, he has thrown 16.0 innings while allowing just one earned run. He has given up just eight hits and three walks while striking out 22.
Super senior lefty Canaan Silver is 6-0 with a 3.23 ERA in 55.2 innings and started the last five weekends. He has allowed 50 hits while displaying impressive command, walking only 10 and fanning 55.
Duke has also not officially announced its Sunday starter. Junior righty Marcus Johnson will start in game one. Johnson has allowed at least three earned runs in all but one of his ACC starts and for the season has a 4.58 ERA over 59.0 innings. He’s surrendered 62 hits and walked 22 while striking out 69.
Freshman lefty Jonathan Santucci is listed as the Saturday starter. He has yet to make it through five innings in a start, however. For the season, Santucci has thrown 33.1 innings and given up just 26 hits while impressively striking out 51, but he’s also walked 15.
ACC Standings And Schedule
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Weekend series schedule:
NC State at Duke
Wake Forest at North Carolina
Louisville at Virginia Tech
Clemson at Virginia
Pittsburgh at Notre Dame
Miami at Florida State
Midweek Recap For NC State Baseball
The Wolfpack scored five runs in the top of the first at UNC Wilmington, but by the time it reached the top of the fourth NC State was down 10-5.
Twice the Pack rallied to tie it, but UNC Wilmington scored twice in the bottom of the eighth for what proved to be the winning runs.
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