Game one preview of NC State baseball vs. Arkansas in the Super Regionals

NC State baseball takes on Arkansas Friday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU in game one of the Super Regionals.

The three-game series will be played in Fayetteville, Ark., with the winner advancing to the 2021 College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

The Wolfpack (33-17, 19-14 ACC) won the Ruston Regional with a 3-0 record last weekend, including two wins over regional host and top-seeded Louisiana Tech. The Pack outscored its opponents 30-11 over three games in the Ruston Regional.

The Razorbacks (49-11, 22-8 ACC) won the Fayetteville Regional with a 3-1 record last weekend, ultimately defeating Nebraska in a winner-take-all Monday contest.

Here is a preview for game one of the Super Regionals series:

Jonny Butler leads NC State with a season batting average of .389. (NC State)

Expected starters

NC State

Junior right-handed pitcher Reid Johnston (6-3, 218 pounds)

The Wolfpack has gone to Johnson in each of its must-win series openers in the postseason, and the junior righty has delivered. Claiming wins in each contest, here are Johnston’s stat lines from his two postseason starts:

vs. Pittsburgh — W, 8.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 10 K, 2 BB (To clinch a semifinals appearance in the ACC Championship)

vs. Alabama — W, 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 7 K, 3 BB (To clinch a spot in the winner’s bracket of the Ruston Regional)

Johnston is 8-2 this season with a 3.90 ERA, which marks a team-low among pitchers with at least 15.0 innings pitched. He also has a team-high 86 strikeouts compared to just 21 walks.

Arkansas

Junior left-handed pitcher Patrick Wicklander (6-1, 205 pounds)

The junior lefty has been Arkansas’s ace all season, but he’s been beatable thus far in the postseason. The Razorbacks ultimately won both of his postseason starts, but he was only credited with one win:

vs. Vanderbilt — 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 K, 3 BB (To clinch a semifinals appearance in the SEC Championship)

vs. Nebraska — W, 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 7 K, 2 BB (Game two of the Fayetteville Regional to remain in the winner’s bracket.

Wicklander is 6-1 this season with a 2.17 ERA, a team-low among starters. The lefty also has 79 strikeouts competed to just 22 walks.

Gambling odds 

Game one

Arkansas -270 (-145 for -1.5)

NC State +220 (+130 for +1.5)

Series Price

Arkansas -900

NC State +500

Odds to win the College World Series

Arkansas +180 (favorite to win)

NC State +5000

*Odds from Bovada as of Friday, June 11 at 11 a.m. ET.

Record versus common opponents 

Arkansas — 4-2

March 12-14

at Louisiana Tech — W, 9-7 (10)

at Louisiana Tech — W, 8-1

at Louisiana Tech — L, 2-0

March 19-21

Alabama — L, 16-1

Alabama — W, 9-1

Alabama — W, 3-1

NC State — 3-0

Ruston Regional

Alabama — W, 8-1

at Louisiana Tech — W, 8-3

at Louisiana Tech — W, 14-7

Player to watch

Arkansas fifth-year senior reliever Kevin Kopps has been one of the best pitchers in the country this season, and the Wolfpack will need to get run production when he isn’t in the mound if it wants to make it to Omaha.

In a team-high 79.2 innings pitched, Kopps has a team-low ERA of 0.68. He also has a team-high 120 strikeouts compared to just 15 walks. His 8.0 strikeouts-to-walks ratio ranks sixth among Division I pitchers and is the beast among Power Five pitchers.

He appeared in three games in the Fayetteville Regional, and the Razorbacks lost the only contest in which he didn’t appear. Here was his stat line from the regional:

2 W, 1 SV, 13.1 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 15 K, 0 BB

In other words, he was filthy.

——

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