Georgia Tech Baseball: Jackets will have hands full with NC State

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 08: A general view of baseball gloves ahead of the Philadephia Phillies versus Atlanta Braves during their opening day game at Turner Field on April 8, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 08: A general view of baseball gloves ahead of the Philadephia Phillies versus Atlanta Braves during their opening day game at Turner Field on April 8, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Georgia Tech baseball team starts a three-game series with NC State on Friday afternoon and the Jackets will have their hands full.

If you’re a fan of high scoring lineups, this weekend’s series between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and NC State Wolfpack is the series for you. The three game series that includes a double-header on Friday matches up the two best lineups in the ACC.

The Wolfpack enter Friday’s double header with an 18-3 record and are coming off a three-game sweep of the Clemson Tigers, a team that swept the Jackets earlier this season. Since being swept by the Tigers, the Jackets are 3-2 and enter the weekend match up with a 12-9 record overall. The Jackets sit at 2-4 in conference play and are currently second to last in the Coastal Conference but are just two games out of first place.

That being said, this weekend’s series is highly important for the Jackets. The program can not simply afford to lose two or all three games this weekend. Even if they were to win two of three, they would still find themselves below .500 in conference play. That being said, being 4-5 sounds a lot better than 3-6 or 2-7.

NC State’s Offense:

When a team has eight players in their usual lineup who are hitting over .300 on the season, opposing teams are going to have a hard time finding ways to win. That’s been the exact problem for opposing teams going up against the Wolfpack.

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Entering the weekend, the Wolfpack as a team are hitting .326 and have an on-base percentage of .426. When a team is reaching base over 40% of the time, it creates RBI situations almost every at-bat. The Wolfpack have taken advantage of those opportunities, scoring 170 runs this season, an average of 8.09 runs per game. The ACC leaders also have a great deal of power as they have almost averaged two home runs per game hitting 38 over 21 games.

The Jackets pitching staff will have to pitch their best series of the season. With eight players hitting over .300 you have to be careful with every hitter but the Wolfpack have three that stand out more than any others.

Sophomore outfielder Brett Kinnenman will be a player to watch as the sophomore from Pennsylvania is leading the Wolfpack in batting average (.371), home runs (11), and RBI (32). His eleven home runs are also tied for the most in the country.

Sophomore outfielder Will Wilson and junior infielder Evan Edwards will be two other hitters that Tech pitchers will have to be extremely cautious with this weekend as well. Both players are hitting over .350 so far this season with eight home runs and 15+ RBI.

Pitching match ups:

Friday Game 1: Xzavion Curry (GT) vs Michael Bienlien (NCST)

Through his first four starts this season, Xzavion Curry was great for the Yellow Jackets and had an ERA of just 1.00. Last Friday however, the Virginia Tech Hokies came out swinging and took advantage of some missed spots and bad pitches by Curry. Despite still picking up a win, it was not an encouraging sign for the Jackets coaching staff especially with NC State’s dangerous and deadly lineup. Curry will have a ton of work ahead of him on Friday if he hopes to pick up the win.

In game one on Friday, NC State will send sophomore right hander Michael Bienlien to the mound. Bienlien so far this season has been great on the mound in seven appearances and two starts. So far the sophomore has pitched 13.1 innings allowing just one earned run in the process. The Jackets will be the best lineup he’s faced this season and should be a good match up to watch.

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Friday Game 2: Connor Thomas (GT) vs TBA (NCST)

Connor Thomas like Xzavion Curry will look to bounce back on Friday for the Yellow Jackets. Last week, Thomas took his second loss of the season and enters Friday’s second game with a 2-2 record and a 3.34 ERA the best among Tech starters. NC State is a tough match up for any pitcher but perhaps catching them on the second game of a double-header will serve the sophomore well.

NC State has yet to announce who will be pitching game two on Friday.

Saturday: Tristin English (GT) vs Brian Bowen (NCST)

After giving the Yellow Jackets a good but albeit short start last Sunday against Virginia Tech. The Jackets will send Tristin English back to the mound on Saturday for his second career start. It will be a good test for English. If he has another thorough start for the Jackets, he could lock down the third spot in the rotation.

Being sent to the mound on Saturday for NC State will be left handed senior Brian Brown. Brown enters the game with a perfect 4-0 record and an ERA of 0.57. Opposing teams have had incredibly hard time hitting the senior’s stuff hard this season as he’s only allowed 17 hits, including just one extra-base hit this season. He doesn’t strike out a ton of batters, averaging just over one per inning but he’s the type of pitcher who will giving opposing teams fits. The Jackets will have their hands full with Brown.