The run that State baseball has been on is incredible. A short time ago, even with signs of getting hot, didn’t think we would be discussing the possibility of a #2 seed in the NCAAT. But here we are.
Over the last month, State has gone 13-3. Two losses were to #7 ranked Notre Dame, the third a weird slugfest in Winston-Salem. In short, it couldn’t have gone much better for the Wolfpack, even their losses during the stretch, don’t hurt them much. So let’s dig down and see where they might end up for both ACCT and NCAAT.
Currently, the Pack hold a 23-14 record (14-13 in ACC). Their RPI continues to climb, as they are now 37th in the country, while having the 27th toughest schedule. The seven wins against nationally ranked clubs, over the last five weeks, will only help in the recency bias division of bracket building. With a field of 64, they seemed primed for a #2 seed if they can finish out the season at a steady pace. Baseball America currently has them as a low #2, meaning a trip to Mississippi State or Vandy.
Remaining Schedule and Scenarios
This is a dream scenario. Take a red hot Wolfpack club and have their remaining games be against ranked (#15) Pitt, followed by Florida State, the school directly ahead of them in ACC standings. While the Pitt series is on the road, State holds a stellar 12-3 record away from Doak. Win two series and this season officially goes from, “let this be over” to “we are going to make some absolute noise.”
–If State sweeps Pitt and FSU: They’re a lock for a high #2 seed, potentially ranked fourth overall in the ACC and have the opportunity to go deep into the ACCT. The road in June becomes easier heading to a host like Louisiana Tech or even Charlotte.
–Series wins against Pitt and FSU: Still #2 seed, but middle of the pack, maybe head to Florida or Texas Tech for NCAAT.
–Split Series: Bottom side of #2 seed. That’s where they’d potentially be heading to a big boy SEC school for NCAAT. Also would stay in their #3 ACC Atlantic position.
-Loser Loser: No bueno. State falls to #3 Seed, but should at least be in the top half of those and settles in against Tennessee or Arizona. They would also slip back to fifth in Atlantic for ACCT.
In short, play consistent and they’ll be seeded well for both tournaments.
Pitching: Johnston, Villaman and Willadsen, with Highfill thrown in, gets you decent starting depth. The biggest factor during this run, has been stable pitching that has gotten late into games. The ability to confidently put out one of those three, and know you still have some inning eaters in the pen, gives Avent hope they can make a run.
Hitting: A week ago, Tyler McDonough won National Player of the Week honors, and it was easy to see why. During a six game stretch, SIX dingers and TEN RBI’s, while batting .380. State is nationally ranked in the Top-20 for Home Runs and 27th in Runs per Game. In the last 10 games, they are plating an average of 8.3 runs a game.