North Carolina State quietly built an impressive first-month record against a soft nonconference schedule. The Wolfpack’s first sweep of Clemson in 21 years has pushed them to the national forefront in college baseball.
After being ranked No. 19 or lower a week ago, they were as high as No. 6 in the polls Monday after three weekend wins over the former No. 1 RPI team.
It’s heady times for coach Elliott Avent and a program that long has been an also-ran in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Wolfpack (18-3), who haven’t won an ACC regular-season title since 1986 or conference tournament championship since 1992, are out to their best start since the 1999 team opened 20-3.
The Wolfpack entered this week with the best record in the ACC and, at 5-1, lead their division by a game over Wake Forest.
They’re third in the nation with 38 home runs — matching their 2017 total — and their .326 batting average ranks seventh. They’re scoring 8.1 runs per game.
Brett Kinneman leads the nation with 32 RBIs and is tied for first in home runs with 11. Will Wilson (.364), who has reached base in 36 straight games, and Evan Edwards (.350) each have hit six homers and are among eight everyday players batting .313 or better.
Brian Brown (4-0) has an 0.57 ERA in 31 1/3 innings to lead a staff that has a 2.86 ERA, down from 4.13 last year, and reliever Kent Klyman has allowed no earned runs in 16 innings. Klyman and Reid Johnston have combined for seven saves.
IN THE POLLS
Oregon State (18-1), Florida (18-4) and Stanford (14-2) remained the top three teams in the D1Baseball.com and Baseball America rankings Monday. Collegiate Baseball newspaper also has the Beavers No. 1, followed by Stanford and Auburn (19-2). The Tigers, off to their best start since 1999, won two of three against Texas A&M over the weekend.
SEC EXPANDS REPLAY
The Southeastern Conference, for league games only, has expanded the use of replay review and implemented a new experimental challenge system for head coaches.
New types of plays that can be reviewed: force or tag plays, calls involving whether a base runner passes a preceding runner before such runner is out, hit-by-pitch calls, tag-up plays, placement of runners when the umpire’s placement of runners following a boundary call, and interference for the purpose of breaking up a double play.
The umpire crew chief may initiate review of these six calls with a head coach’s challenge at any time during a game or at the crew chief’s discretion beginning with the eighth inning, or sixth inning in a designated seven-inning game.
Six permanent reviewable calls will remain in effect for all conference and nonconference games. Those are fair or foul calls, home runs, catch plays in the outfield or foul territory, certain catch plays in the infield, spectator interference and scoring plays at home plate.
The crew chief can initiate review of those six calls at any time.
Under the head coach challenge rule, a coach is limited to two challenges per conference game.
3 MORE NO-HITTERS
This season’s Division I no-hitter total is up to 13 after three more last week.
Southern California freshman Kyle Hurt combined with Austin Manning and Connor Lunn for the Trojans’ first nine-inning no-hitter since 1986 in a 2-0 win over Utah on Thursday.
Shane McClanahan and Carson Ragsdale combined for South Florida’s first no-hitter since 2010 in a 12-0 win over Army on Friday. Texas Southern’s Michael Villanueva threw a seven-inning no-hitter in a 10-0 win over Prairie View A&M on Saturday.
TOUGH PATCH FOR FROGS
TCU (10-7), which has reached the College World Series four straight years, has lost four of its last five games for its roughest stretch in five years. The Horned Frogs has hit .192 over the stretch, and nine of the 32 runs against them have been unearned. They open Big 12 play this weekend at home against Kansas State.
RUN OF THREE-BAGGERS
Wofford had a national season-high five triples in a 12-6 win over Siena on Saturday. The Terriers had a triple in the fourth inning, one in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh. The triples led to eight of the 12 runs.