Know Your Enemy: Raleigh Regional - UNC-Wilmington

UNC-Wilmington

Record: 38-21 (24-6 Colonial)
Conference Result: 1st in CAA
BaseballAmerica Rank: n/a
RPI Rank: 41

At the plate: Wilmington's strength comes from their hitters; the team has combined to bat .302 with 48 home runs. For perspective, Vandy is batting just .266 with 18 dingers in 2012. Five Seahawk regulars are batting over .300, led by leftfielder Thomas Pope's .381 average. Pope, first baseman Hunter Ridge (.335, 4 HR, 40 RBI), and centerfielder Andrew Cain (.313/10/41) make up the heart of Raleigh's most potent batting order.

The Seahawks are also a patient team at the plate, absorbing walks at a similar rate to Vanderbilt's. With a team OBP of .382, they present a tough challenge for any pitcher in the tournament. However, teams like NC State (three runs allowed over two games) and Ole Miss (nine runs over three games) were able to shut down Wilmington's potent offense in sweeps. Opposing pitchers averaged a strikeout per inning in those five games.

On the mound: Mat Batts is this team's best pitcher. Batts, a redshirt sophomore lefty, uses strong command and control to keep batters off balance, leading to solid strikeout rates and a 2.59 ERA. He doesn't have the power to overwhelm batters, but a solid curveball and changeup have been enough to make him an All-CAA pitcher in 2012.

Tyler McSwain also put together a strong season, eating up over 100 innings as a starter and compiling a 9-3 record. Like Batts, he relies more on precision than power when pitching. While he doesn't have Batts's control, the senior's composure and experience may make him Wilmington's biggest threat on the mound this postseason.

Those two starters give way to a solid bullpen that guided the team to 3.39 ERA this season. They have four different pitchers that they can turn to late in the game that have an ERA under 3.00. Kelly Secrest has been the Seahawks' most dangerous weapon out of the 'pen, and he'll provide another solid lefty for Mark Scalf's squad.

Overall outlook: Wilmington went 3-10 against NCAA Tournament teams in 2012, recording wins over TCU, Coastal Carolina, and East Carolina. They got beat up by NC State (an aggregate 18-3 over two games) and also suffered a sweep at the hands of Ole Miss, the only SEC opponent that they faced all year. However, they've also got the most statistically potent lineup in the Regional and two starters that could carry them to a pair of early upsets and into a Super Regional.

The Seahawks are an exceedingly balanced, well-coached team. Though they have struggled against the NCAA's top squads, their run through the CAA showed off just how strong they are from the top to the bottom of their roster. They'll be a handful for Vanderbilt, who will have to get lots of strikeouts to quell Wilmington's rallies.

UNC-W has several ways to beat you, but they'll have to prove that two months of hard work has been enough to get them over the hump against the country's elite. They are running into a buzzsaw against a red-hot Vanderbilt, but they can't be discounted. Count the Seahawks in as a solid sleeper pick when it comes to getting out of Raleigh alive.

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