2019 NCAA Baseball Tournament: Greenville Regional Preview
No. 1 East Carolina vs. No. 4 Quinnipiac (6 p.m. ET, ESPN3
No. 2 NC State vs. No. 3 Campbell (12 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 1 East Carolina (43-15)
Season In A Sentence: On the way to earning its fourth regional appearance in five years under head coach Cliff Godwin, East Carolina absolutely dominated the American Athletic Conference, going 20-4 in the league without dropping a single series.
Best Pitcher: LHP Jake Agnos, Jr. — Ranked No. 143 in the BA 500, Agnos was the 2019 American Athletic Conference pitcher of the year. A steady force atop the Pirates’ rotation, Agnos boasts a 10-2, 2.00 record with 131 strikeouts in 90 innings, holding opponents to a .197 batting average along the way.
Best Hitter: OF Bryant Packard, Jr. — A unanimous first-team all-AAC selection for the second straight year, Packard is hitting .370/.441/.547 this spring. Known for having a good batting eye and solid approach at the plate, Packard can beat opposing pitchers in myriad ways.
Outlook: No team has made more NCAA Tournament appearances without reaching the College World Series than East Carolina, but this team has a real chance to breakthrough to Omaha. With sluggers Spencer Brickhouse, Alec Burleson and Bryant Packard leading the way, the Pirates have a powerful offense. Lefthander Jake Agnos gives them a true ace, and there’s impressive depth throughout the team. ECU doesn’t have an easy regional, and it got bounced quicker than expected last year when it hosted, but this is what the program has been building to under Godwin.
No. 2 North Carolina State (42-17)
Season In A Sentence: The Wolfpack were one of the teams bumped out of a host spot late in the season, but with a 42-17 record and 18-12 ACC mark, NC State will be a tough out as a two-seed making a fifth consecutive regional appearance.
Best Pitcher: LHP Nick Swiney, So. — Swiney earned a team-best seven wins for the Wolfpack this season, and he’s struck out 83 batters in 50 innings. Opponents are hitting just .210 off the lefthander, who mixes speeds effectively in order to keep hitters off-balance.
Best Hitter: SS Will Wilson, Jr. — The ACC defensive player of the year, Wilson also gets it done at the plate. The shortstop is hitting .346/.435/.682 with 16 home runs and 57 RBIs this spring, and he’s only struck out 41 times, compared to 32 walks. Wilson should be one of the first college shortstops selected in next week’s draft.
Outlook: NC State feels like it should have a home regional, but after going 1-2 at the ACC Tournament, it fell off the hosting line and now must hit the road. It’s a short trip to Greenville from Raleigh, and the competition is familiar, but that doesn’t make it any easier. NC State needs to recapture the road magic it had on the final weekend of the regular season when it won a series at archrival North Carolina for the first time since 2004. It also needs to make sure it doesn’t get caught looking ahead to a potential Saturday night matchup against ECU—a game fans of both teams are already looking forward to.
No. 3 Campbell (35-19)
Season In A Sentence: The Camels bring a battle-tested and prospect-laden team into regionals after going 35-19 and winning both the Big South regular season and tournament titles.
Best Pitcher: RHP Seth Johnson, Jr. — One of the most talented pitchers in college baseball, Johnson is relatively new to pitching, but he has high-end pure stuff. Ranked No. 28 in the BA 500, Johnson leads the Camels in strikeouts with 77 in 61 innings, and he’s holding opponents to a .248 batting average. He is capable of throwing four different pitches for strikes, headlined by his mid-90s fastball.
Best Hitter: OF Matthew Barefoot, R-Jr. — Barefoot is hitting .313/.414/.581 with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs this spring. He’s a high-contact hitter that’s capable of causing havoc for opposing pitchers and can drive the ball to all fields.
Outlook: The Camels were a tough out last year in the Athens Regional as a No. 4 seed and should be even tougher this year as a No. 3 seed. Campbell already owns wins against ECU and NC State this year, and in Barefoot and Johnson, it has a pair of high-end draft prospects. All of that should give the Camels confidence, but it also means that no one is going to take them lightly this weekend. Still, they have a real chance to spoil the party for ECU and NC State.
No. 4 Quinnipiac (29-17)
BA 500 Prospects: None
Season In A Sentence: For the first time since 2005, Quinnipiac will be playing postseason baseball, this time after a 29-27 season that also saw the Bobcats finish tied atop the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with a 17-7 record and then edge Fairfield in the MAAC Tournament.
Best Pitcher: RHP Tyler Poulin, Sr. — Poulin leads the Quinnipiac pitching staff with 80 strikeouts, and he’s walked only 27 hitters in 82 innings this spring. The owner of a 7-2, 3.73 record, Poulin has proven he can match up against quality opponents, as he struck out 12 hitters in 6.1 innings in the Bobcats’ win at Wake Forest earlier this season.
Best Hitter: OF/DH Andre Marrero, Jr. — A power hitter at the top of Quinnipiac’s lineup, Marrero leads the Bobcats in OPS (.923) and is capable of doing a little bit of everything for the Bobcats. He has 10 home runs, 46 RBIs and 48 runs scored.
Outlook: The interloper in an otherwise all-North Carolina regional, Quinnipiac has a tough draw. If the Bobcats are going to pull an upset, they’re going to rely on a speedy lineup that puts a lot of pressure on opponents. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions have their work cut out for them this weekend.