The Wolfpack looks to continue its success as it travels to Louisville to take on the Cardinals.
No. 4 NC State (23-5, 9-3 ACC) has had a string of several solid wins over the course of the season. The Wolfpack will next face another strong Atlantic Division foe on the road with the No. 11 Louisville Cardinals (19-9, 5-7 ACC) will host State for a three-game series expected to go down to the wire.
Last time out
After a dominant 2017, Louisville isn’t off to as strong a start as many Cardinal fans would have hoped. The team is currently under .500 in league play and is coming off of a series loss to Florida State. The Cards barely lost in the second game of the series as the Seminoles won on a walk-off, but they avoided the sweep with a win in the series finale. In their midweek tilt, the Cardinals dropped their Tuesday afternoon contest against No. 9 Kentucky, 8-5.
The Wolfpack is riding high at the moment with its recent series win over Virginia Tech. After dropping the series opener, State won two games in a row to maintain the team’s spot at the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The series begins Friday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium at 6 p.m. followed by 1 p.m. start times for both Saturday and Sunday.
Louisville will throw left-hander Adam Wolf on Friday. A junior from Milan, Ohio; Wolf sports a 3-2 record with a 2.68 earned run average. He leads the team with 49 strikeouts in 40-1/3 innings while giving up 32 hits and 15 walks. Graduate student right-handed pitcher Johnny Piedmonte gets the call to start on the mound for the Wolfpack. Piedmonte is 4-0 on the year with a 2.93 ERA, 24 strikeouts, and 10 walks in 30-2/3 innings.
Saturday’s matchup will pit two undefeated southpaws against each other. For Louisville, sophomore Nick Bennett gets the call to start. Bennett is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in only 17 innings. State will send senior Brian Brown to oppose him, and the Glenmoore, Pa. native has been objectively one of the best pitchers in college baseball. Brown is 4-0 on the year with the nation’s lowest ERA (for qualified pitchers) at 0.41.
Sophomore right-hander Michael Bienlien will start the series finale for the Wolfpack. The Chesapeake, Va. native is 2-2 in 2018 with a 4.96 earned run average in 16-1/3 innings. No Sunday starter has yet to be named for Louisville.
Louisville at a Glance
The Cardinals are batting .272 collectively and are outscoring their opponents, 190-129. Junior infielder Devin Mann leads the team in runs batted in with 27 and is one of Louisville’s key contributors at the plate with a .283 average. Sophomore first baseman Logan Wyatt is the team’s most efficient batter with a .343 average and .504 on-base percentage.
Louisville also has a trio of speed demons that can provide disruptions to opposing defenses. Sophomore infielder Jake Snider leads the team in stolen bases with 14 on 16 attempts. Snider is also batting .268 with 18 RBI and 22 runs scored. Sophomore infielder Tyler Fitzgerald and junior outfielder Josh Stowers follow behind Snider with 13 steals each.
Stowers leads the team in scoring with 25 runs to go along with a .253 clip and 18 RBI. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald is batting .260 with 14 runs batted in and 23 runs scored.
Behind the two mentioned starters, the Cardinals’ pitching is led by junior right-handed pitcher Sam Bordner. The Baltimore, Ohio native has eight saves on the year with a 1-1 record, 2.03 ERA, and 18 strikeouts in 13-1/3 innings.
Senior lefty Rabon Martin is another dominant arm the Cards turn to in later innings. Martin has a 1.35 earned run average in 10 appearances. Though he has no pitching decisions to his credit this season, he’s struck out 15 batters in 13-1/3 frames.