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Series Preview: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

When: April 15 – April 17

Where: Gene Hooks Field at Wake Forest Baseball Park Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Friday Match-up*: RHP Mike Compton (4-1 3.66ERA) vs. RHP Parker Dunshee (4-3 3.66ERA)

Saturday Match-up*: RHP Drew Carlton (4-2 3.41ERA) vs. RHP Drew Loepprich (3-1 3.92ERA)

Sunday Match-up*: RHP Cole Sands (3-3 4.25ERA) vs. RHP Connor Johnstone (1-3 5.74ERA)

Player to Watch FSU: OF Jackson Lueck

Player to Watch WF: IF Will Craig

*Note: All starters are considered Probable. These pitchers are those expected to start but coaches could change starters before/during a series.

 

The calendar has turned to mid-April and Florida State has yet to lose an ACC series this season. The Seminoles are coming off a home loss to the Florida Gators and now they head north to North Carolina to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The last two times the Seminoles have traveled north for road ACC series they only played one game each in Boston and Pittsburgh so Coach Mike Martin is almost certainly hoping for some good weather this weekend. A bit of bad news for Florida State, sophomore right-handed pitcher Cobi Johnson was found to have a torn UCL that occurred on Tuesday night and will undergo Tommy John surgery. Tommy John normally has a recovery time of 12-14 months so it will not be unlikely to see Johnson medically redshirt next season. Tough break for Johnson as Tommy John surgery sucks for everyone involved. With the bad news out of the way, let’s dive in to Wake Forest and see what Florida State is up against.

The player to watch for Florida State is freshman outfielder Jackson Lueck. The switch-hitter from Orlando has been on a tear ever since he’s been seeing consistent playing time. With the struggles of the other outfielders, mainly the hitting of Darren Miller and the unwillingness to play Gage West everyday, Lueck and Donovan Petrey have been seeing extended playing time. In limited at-bats Lueck has been getting extra base hits seemingly every other at-bat. He launched his first home run of the season to deep center field against Florida on Tuesday night and he should continue to see a lion’s share of the playing time in right field going forward.

I know that I seem to stress this all the time, but Florida State is going to look to get a lot of innings out of their starters. Last weekend the starters struggled against Louisville, with the exception of Cole Sands on Sunday, so the Seminoles will be counting on Mike Compton and Drew Carlton to throw at least six innings to help save a taxed bullpen. The bullpen was exposed over the weekend as the Voyles brothers, Matthew Kinney, and the rest of the bullpen were hit hard. Every pitcher in the bullpen gave up an earned run with the exception of Cobi Johnson, who is now sidelined the rest of the season with Tommy John.

Photo Apr 15, 2 04 21 AM

The player to watch for Wake Forest is Will Craig. The infielder for the Demon Deacons is not only the best player on the team but is also one of the best players in the country. The reigning ACC player of the year is leading the team in batting average (.442), hits (42), doubles (13), RBI (44), total bases (82), slugging percentage (.863), OBP (.556), and home runs (9). Craig is on the top of most MLB Draft projection boards and is expected to be one of the first 15-20 picks off the board come June. The first team All-ACC team hitter should give Florida State pitching all sorts of trouble this weekend, but the Seminoles should be able to work around him in the lineup.

Infielder Nate Mondou and outfielder Stuart Fairchild were also first team All-ACC members in 2015. Mondou at second base and Fairchild in the outfield headline the lineup for the Demon Deacons in 2016. Mondou has gotten off to a slow start at the plate, hitting a paltry (.261), but both batters should still be handled with caution, especially Fairchild as he is hitting well on the season.

Wake Forest is 20-16 on the season and 5-10 in the ACC. This is a winnable series for Florida State but at this point in the season it is important for the Seminoles to continue to win as many ACC games and series as they can. First pitch for Game 1 is set for 6PM, Game 2 at 4PM, and Game 3 at 1PM.

Vinnie Cervino
Lead Baseball Writer, Perpetually Pessimistic Sport Fan, Proprietor of My Own Delusions and Fallacies, 80 Grade Takes. Twitter @cervino_vinnie.

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