Brackman Starting Opener Tonight Against UNC

Wolfpack freshman Andrew Brackman will start tonight for NC State as they face seventh-ranked North Carolina in a crucial ACC series at Doak Field.

Wolfpack freshman Andrew Brackman (1-0, 0.69) will start tonight for NC State as they face seventh-ranked North Carolina in a crucial ACC series at Doak Field.

This will be Brackman's fifth appearance and his second start. He has pitched 13 innings and allowed three runs, one earned, on nine hits. He has walked six and struck out 14. In his last appearance, a two-inning relief stint April 24 vs. Clemson, he was charged with a run on four hits. He struck out three and did not issue a walk. The run was the only earned run he has allowed. In his only previous start, April 20 at East Carolina, he stifled the Pirates for six innings, allowing no runs on two hits -- a grounder through the right side of the infield and a line drive to center field. He walked three and struck out five. Sophomore lefthander Andrew Miller (8-1, 2.03) will start for North Carolina.

Junior lefthander Branden Knapp (2-3, 5.27) will start for the Pack on Saturday. Knapp has made 10 appearances, including seven starts and one complete game. He has worked 42 2/3 innings and allowed 30 runs and 25 earned runs on 50 hits, walking nine and striking out 29. In his last start, April 23 vs. Clemson, he was roughed up for eight runs, seven earned, on eight hits in 1 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out one. Sophomore righthander Daniel Bard (7-2, 3.34) will start for the Tar Heels on Saturday.

Sophomore righthander Gib Hobson (5-1, 5.31) will start for NC State on Sunday. He has made 12 appearances, all starts. In 59 1/3 innings this season, he has allowed 43 runs, 35 earned runs, on 63 hits. He walked 19 and struck out 39. In his last start, April 24 vs. Clemson, he retired the first 10 men he faced before running into trouble in the fourth inning. He wound up working five innings and allowed six runs, five of them earned, on seven hits. He struck out two without a walk. North Carolina's starter for Sunday is to be determined.

SCOUTING THE WOLFPACK: NC State has recovered nicely since being swept March 18-20 at Georgia Tech, winning 15 of 19 games since then. The sweep at the hands of the Yellow Jackets still marks the only time this season that the Wolfpack has lost consecutive games. Remove NC State's 1-5 record against Miami and Georgia Tech and the team's record for the season is 29-7.

Redshirt-sophomore first baseman Aaron Bates leads the Pack in virtually every offensive category, including batting average (.404), doubles (13), home runs (6), RBIs (41), slugging percentage (.630) and on-base percentage (.516). Bates has been on a tear in the month of April, hitting .469 (23-for-49) with six doubles, three home runs and 16 RBIs in 15 games. Junior catcher Jake Muyco checks in with a .349 average, 10 doubles and 30 RBIs. Junior outfielder Brian Aragon is hitting .322 with 11 doubles, three home runs and 23 RBIs, while freshman second baseman Ramon Corona is hitting .319 with 11 doubles, two homers and 23 RBIs despite starting just 26 games. Corona is hitting .550 (11-for-20) four doubles, a home run and five RBIs in his last five games. Junior DH Aaron Cone is hitting .350 with five doubles, two home runs and 18 RBIs despite starting just 12 games. Since breaking into the starting lineup April 13 vs. UNCW, Cone is hitting .345 (10-for-29) with two doubles, a triple, two homers and seven RBIs in eight games, including seven starts.

The key to NC State's turnaround since the Georgia Tech series has been its pitching, especially in the month of April. Wolfpack pitchers have a 3.64 ERA in the month of April, have held opposing hitters to a .239 batting average, and have struck out 116 and walked 43 in 136 innings. NC State pitchers have tossed four shutouts in April and held opponents to five runs or less nine times in 15 games, to three runs or less six times.

SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels, ranked seventh by Sports Weekly and 10th by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, come to Raleigh atop the Atlantic Coast Conference standings after sweeping Duke last weekend. The Tar Heels have won seven in a row since losing twice and settling for a tie in three games with Miami two weekends ago.

North Carolina has been led all season by the sophomore pitching duo of righthander Daniel Bard and lefthander Andrew Miller, who have won 15 games between them. UNC sports a staff ERA of 2.66, and the Tar Heels were third nationally in staff ERA through games of last Sunday. Offensively, sophomore outfielder Seth Ellington is UNC's leading run producer. He is hitting .339 with nine doubles, eight home runs and 44 RBIs. Freshman outfielder Seth Williams leads the Heels in home runs with 12 and is batting .310 with 31 RBIs. Freshman infielder Chad Flack is hitting .347 with nine doubles, nine home runs and 33 RBIs.

GAME NOTES: Game times are set for 7 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. All three games will be broadcast live on WKNC-FM (88.1) and on through Yahoo's subscription service. Sunday's game will be televised on digital cable on C-SET, which is channel 140 on Time-Warner Cable in Raleigh. Live in-game stats for all three games will be available on through the Gametracker.

Pack Pride Top Stories