No….State is not in the NCAAT field right now. But that doesn’t mean that over the last three weeks, they haven’t at least shown they are capable of making a run.
The Wolfpack have now won 10 out of their last 12, with crucial wins against ranked teams (UNC) and Atlantic foes (BC). More importantly, WE CURRENTLY HAVE A WINNING RECORD at 14-11.
State Sweeps BC
What’s State’s winning formula?
Have starting pitchers max out innings and the bats come alive…great strategy, no? State beat Boston College, 20-5, 5-4 and 7-0 behind six doubles, three triple and three home runs. State averaged 11 hits per game, while holding BC to just 5 per.
Offensively, the Wolfpack were lead by the resurgence of Devonte Brown (6 RBIs), always steady Luca Tresh (6 RBIs) and newcomer Jose Torres (5 RBIs). The consistency of quality at-bats stood out, as the team is seeing the ball better with improved patience.
The pitching for State continues to roll on. Over the course of the series, the bullpen was only needed for 4.1 innings, as Matt Willadsen went the distance in Game 3. Willadsen, for his efforts, was named ACC Pitcher of the Week. The biggest difference for State over the last three weeks, is the battery of Johnston (3-1), Highfill (2-2) and Willadsen (3-0) have gone well into games, with multiple quality starts.
Where State Sits Now
Coming into the weekend, Baseball America projected that Virginia would be on the bubble, and interestingly enough, they are comparable to State in a lot of ways.
Virginia: 16-15 | RPI 71 | SOS 35
State: 14-11 | RPI 74 | SOS 24
Virginia does have a few more Q1+Q2 wins, but State will have an upcoming schedule that could change that. Through the end of the month, the Wolfpack will have series against ND and VT (both Tourney teams and potential hosts) and Wake Forest. While this recent streak has bought them time, failure to not get a single series win will end their season, outside of a miraculous ACCT run. However, series wins against ND and/or VT, in particular, would further improve RPI and at least get them into bubble discussions.
It has become abundantly clear, that the loss of early non-conference opponents has hurt State. Not only from the standpoint of getting wins, but more so finding their groove. No doubt, in a normal season, they wouldn’t have had 9 games against ranked opponents in their first 17.
The steadying of the ship is credit to Avent and staff, a strong effort by starters and the easing up a bit by opponents’ strength. Being realistic, State shouldn’t be worried about seeding as they just need to find a way in. Unless they winn out, or come close, the best they could do is 4th in any given region. But hey, with State’s starters turning it around, we’d take a bid and a chance to steal a couple games, regardless of seed.