Series Preview: UNC vs. NC State

The No. 3-ranked Tar Heels (20-4) are hosting NC State (14-8) for a weekend series. North Carolina heads into the game red hot at the plate, scoring 68 runs in its last four games while only giving up 10 in the process. The Wolfpack arrive in Cary in the midst of a hitting slump, and having lost three of its last four.

Game Schedule
• March 28 - 7 p.m.
• March 29 - 2 p.m. *
• March 30 - 1:30 p.m

* Saturday's start time has been moved to 2 p.m. to avoid a potential scheduling conflict with the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Student Transportation:
UNC will be running a shuttle service for the Friday and Saturday games for UNC Students. If interested, e-mail your name and PID to The shuttle will depart one hour before the game from the Smith Center parking lot.

Media Coverage:
You can catch the UNC baseball game on ACC Select on Friday and Sunday or listen to WKNC 88.1 FM to hear the game on the NC State radio station. And, you can follow along with the Game Threads on Inside Carolina's Diamond Heels Message Board.

Ticket Information:
Tickets for this weekend's series are sold out, but Carolina students, faculty and staff will be admitted with a UNC OneCard at no charge.

Quotables "I can't wait, no one can wait. Anytime you play those guys, we look forward to it. We are expecting a huge crowd, the atmosphere is going to be great. Anytime these teams get together it is going to be a fight. … I don't care where we play them, last year we played them in Jacksonville [and] everyone was ready to play." – UNC senior Rob Wooten

"I'm definitely looking forward to that [series]. I'm looking to see this place packed out, hopefully. I have never seen this pace packed." – UNC sophomore Dustin Ackley

"We're struggling offensively right now, it's not from a lack of effort. … We have some guys whose confidence is not real strong right now, and confidence is such an important factor in a game like baseball. This is not the way we'd hoped to go into the series with North Carolina this weekend, but this is what we have to deal with, and we'll deal with it." -- NC State head coach Elliot Avent

Pitching Match Ups:
Friday, March 28, (7 p.m.)
UNC Alex White (3-2) 2.19 ERA, 24 K, B/Avg. .255
NCSU Clayton Shunick (2-2) 1.55 ERA, 32 K, B/Avg .213.

Saturday, March 29, (2 p.m.)
UNC Adam Warren (4-0) 4.56 ERA, 20 K, B/Avg. .303
NCSU Eric Surkamp (1-2) 4.50 ERA, 26 K, B/Avg. .286.

Sunday, March 30, (1:30 p.m.)
UNC Matt Harvey (3-1) 1.19 ERA, 26 K, B/Avg. .207
NCSU Eryk McConnell (2-1) 4.62 ERA, 12 K, B/Avg. .276.

NC State Season to Date:
The Wolfpack is 14-8 on the season with a 4-5 ACC mark. Seven of the first 22 games have been against teams ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25. State enters this series against UNC coming off of losses in its last two ACC weekend series against Clemson and No. 5-ranked Miami, but won its first ACC series against No. 12-ranked Virginia.

State has lost three non-conference games thus far, the first in its opening series against Appalachian State, then to the No. 22-ranked Louisville Cardinals and the last coming right before the Tar Heel series -- a one-hit shutout by Marshall.

NC State Pitching Preview:
Right-handed pitcher Clayton Shunick takes the mound for NCSU on Friday evening. The 6-1 junior transferred from Georgia State after his freshman year. His feature pitches are his fastball, slider and split-fingered fastball. Shunick an all-star in the 2006 Cape Cod League.

Saturday's starter, Eric Surkamp, features a classic 12-to-6 curveball in addition to his fastball, which is in the mid to high 80s. The junior left handeder from Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller was a second team All-ACC selection last year, starting sixteen games. He's familiar with the Cary ballpark, as he started three games for Team USA last summer, going 1-0 with a 1.15 ERA in four appearances.

Eryk McConnell, a Waynesville, N.C. native, takes the mound on Sunday afternoon for State. This season he has returned to the starting rotation after occupying the closer role a year ago. He earned third team All-American status last season from the National College Baseball Writers Association, recording 11 saves in his junior campaign. He was drafted in the 10th round in 2007 by the Baltimore Orioles, opting to return for his senior season.

In the bullpen, the Wolfpack has leaned on sophomore left hander Jimmy Gillheeney. He leads the team with five saves and has a 0.64 earned run average, while striking out 19. He features four quality pitches and was highly rated coming out of high school in Rhode Island -- the No. 59 prospect by Baseball America in 2006. His fastball is in the high 80s and he mixes in a nasty change up and curveball.

NC State Batting Preview:
The Wolfpack has struggled so far this season offensively. Only two of the team's regular starters are hitting over .300 and infielder Dallas Poulk has not yet been able to live up to last season's Freshman All-American status. Poulk is batting .253 so far this season with 15 strikeouts -- he only struck out 17 times in 170 at bats last season, batting .394.

Junior outfielder Marcus Jones is the shining exception to the NC State offensive doldrums, batting .325 and leading the team with 15 runs scored. He has also been a menace on the base paths, successfully stealing seven bases in eight attempts.

NC State is batting .270 this season as a team, scoring 124 runs, compared to the Tar Heels .332 average and 203 runs. State has hit 16 home runs this season, compared to UNC's 28. And UNC leads NCSU in on base percentage plus slugging percentage by a .994 to .761 margin.

Interesting Note:
There will be a familiar face for Tar Heel baseball fans in the Wolfpack bullpen this weekend. Lefthanded reliever Eric Sogard transferred from Oregon State to NC State after the College World Series last year. Sogard has pitched extensively and effectively for the Wolfpack this season after languishing in the bullpen for the two-time national champions in his redshirt freshman year, making four appearances on the season. This year he has already appeared in ten games, starting once.

Inside Carolina Top Stories