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SUPER REGIONAL PREVIEW: NC STATE VS GEORGIA
June 4, 2008

SCS.comNC State and Georgia advanced to the Super Regionals but took different paths to get there. The #8 national seed, Georgia had to win four games after dropping the opening game last Friday, while NC State went out and won three straight to claim the title. This will be NC State's second appearance in a Super Regional, and the Pack last went to the CWS in 1968, their only apperance. Georgia has claimed Super Regional titles twice at home (2001 and 2006) and has been to Omaha in 1987, 1990 (national champions), and 2004.

NC STATE AT GEORGIA

THE MATCHUP

Georgia was nine outs away from elimination on Saturday afternoon, then with one swing of the bat they tied the game and cruised to the regional title. The Bulldogs dropped the opening game to Lipscomb (10-7) then reeled off victories against Louisville (9-8), Lipscomb (14-3), and rival Georgia Tech twice (8-0, 18-6). NC State was challenged but still came away unscathed by taking victories from James Madison (6-2) and South Carolina twice (5-4, 2-1). This will be an interesting matchup as the teams have never met on the diamond.

THE VENUE

Athens, Georgia is used to games between the hedges but Kudzu Hill beyond right field at Foley Field has steadily increased in popularity. The park was filled last weekend and ticket sales for the Super Regional have been suspended on the first day of sales.

BREAKING IT DOWN

Starting Pitching
Georgia received timely pitching during the regionals, but their team ERA is still 4.72. The staff has 467 strikeouts and given up 66 homeruns in 555 innings of work. They are led by Trevor Holder's 7-4 record but Stephen Dodson leads the weekend starters with a 4.41 ERA. NC State has pitched extremely well this season as they have a 3.36 ERA and only given up 38 homeruns. Clayton Shunick is the ace of the staff with a 7-5 record but a paltry 2.16 ERA.
Advantage: NC State
Hitting
The Bulldogs have a team batting average of .306 but no one in the country had a better weekend than senior Matt Olson (18 for 26 in regionals - .692 average). Gordon Beckham heads the team in batting average (.397), homeruns (24), RBIs (65), and stolen bases (17 of 18). The Wolfpack have hit 61 homeruns and posted a .302 team batting average. They are led by Ryan Pond's .332 average and Marcus Jones' 48 RBIs. Two players, Pat Ferguson and Matt Payne, are tied for the team lead in HRs with 9.
Advantage: Georgia
Out of the Pen
When it comes to closers, Georgia's Joshua Fields has been lights out this season. He has 16 of the team's 17 saves and a 2.27 ERA. Fields has only allowed 10 runs (3 came this past Saturday) and 8 earned in 31.2 innings. NC State has a good closer of their own in Jimmy Gillheeney. Gillheeney has 10 saves and a 1.12 ERA in 21 appearances and 32 innings pitched.
Advantage: Georgia
Coaching
David Perno has taken his alma mater to Omaha twice and both have been in even numbered years (hmm...). He was also close to taking them in 2002 but fell to Georgia Tech in the regional round. Wolfpack head coach Elliot Avent has taken his team to 9 regionals in 12 years but only have been this far once before. This will be unchartered territory for this Wolfpack ball club.
Advantage: Georgia
Intangibles
Georgia has been very good this season at Foley Field and last weekend went a long way to show it. Experience will be on the side of the Bulldogs as quite a few key players were on the 2004 squad. This might be a huge task for the Wolfpack as eight of their 20 losses have come on the road.
Advantage: Georgia

FINAL THOUGHTS

The shot heard around Athens on Saturday afternoon fueled the crowd as well as the rest of the Bulldogs. Temperatures will be scorching in Athens for noon starts on Friday and Saturday and the Bulldogs look to stay hot too. NC State will have to cool the bats as well as get to a pitching staff that allowed Georgia Tech to score in only two of 18 innings in the regional championship games.
Being down to their last nine outs, the Bulldogs went on to outscore their opponents 47-12 in the last 30 innings of the regional and the home crowds will be expecting more of the same.

PREDICTION TIME

Eddie Jason Jimmy Jonathan
Georgia Georgia Georgia Georgia

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