After a year off from facing each other in regular season play, UNC will host NC State this weekend in a three game set starting at 7:30 PM on Friday. The two teams will meet again at 6:00 PM on Saturday with the series finale set for Sunday at noon.
Both teams enter the game have struggled a bit in ACC play. UNC is 20-13 overall and 7-8 in league play having dropped three series 2-1 to Pitt, Miami and Clemson. The latter two matchups involved UNC blowing late inning leads, including a pair with Trent Thornton on the mound. NC State is 19-12 overall and 7-7 in ACC play during the first season of the post-Carlos Rodon era.
The ACC right now is a hot mess in the standings. In the Coastal Division, UNC is tied with Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech at 7-8 followed by 6-9 Virginia, 4-11 Duke and Pitt. Miami leads the division at 11-4. The Atlantic isn't much better with Louisville sitting atop the division with a commanding 14-1 record. FSU is second at 11-4 followed by 8-7 Wake Forest, 7-7 NC State, 7-8 Clemson, 6-9 Notre Dame and 5-9 Boston College.
The ACC Baseball Tournament will take ten teams this season. UNC and NC State should both be safely in. UNC is in need of a good weekend which a sweep or series win would provide to get the Heels at .500 or better in ACC play.
The Tar Heels have one of the better starting rotations in the ACC. The trio of J.B. Bukauskas, Benton Moss and Zac Gallen all have ERAs under 3.60. The freshman Bukauskas is at 2.66 with 46 Ks in 47 IP. The issue has been the offense where the Heels are middle of the pack in ACC play in batting average and runs scored. The pitching, while good at times has also allowed 125 walks(9th in the ACC) and 157 runs(also 9th). Trent Thornton, once reliable out of the bullpen, has a 4.11 ERA and has issued 20 walks on the season, most on the team.
UNC will send Zac Gallen to the mound on Friday against Wolfpack right hander Corey Wilde(3.19 ERA). Freshman J.B. Bukauskas will get the ball for the Satruday contest against NCSU's Brian Brown(2.88 ERA) with senior Benton Moss closing the series out against Johnny Piedmont(1.96 ERA)