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Tuesday Preview: No. 25 East Carolina vs. No. 11 North Carolina State

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After sweeping Penn State last weekend, No. 25 East Carolina welcomes No. 18 NC State to Greenville on Tuesday for a midweek clash.

The in-state rivals have not squared off since the Wolfpack claimed a 4-2 victory over ECU Apr. 5, 2011 in Raleigh.

NCSU enters the tilt winners of its last six, a streak which includes five triumphs over teams ranked among the nation's top-35 clubs (Georgia Tech and Wake Forest).

The Pirates are ranked No. 25 in the latest Perfect Game poll and have won six of their last seven contests and nine of the last 11.

Here's more insight into Tuesday night's showdown...

NC State News and Notes

- The Pack has not dropped a contest since Mar. 9 against Georgia Tech. They knocked off the Yellow Jackets the following Saturday and Sunday to claim the series victory before defeating Elon on the road Mar. 14. NC State swept nationally-ranked Wake Forest last weekend, moving to 5-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference play and an impressive 15-3 overall.

- State's torrid start to 2012 has earned it respect from several major national polls. The Wolfpack are ranked No. 26 in the latest NCBWA poll and No. 20 by Baseball America. Perfect Game has noticed the 15-3 start in 2012 and has the squad listed as its No. 18 ranked squad. The 'Pack is ranked highest in the Collegiate Baseball poll, coming in at No. 11.

Leading Hitters

- Chris Diaz: .408 BA, team-best 31 H, 7 2B, HR, 22 RBIs

- Ryan Mathews: .362 BA, 7 2B, 3 HR, 14 RBIs

- Brett Austin: .353 BA, 5 2B, 14 RBIs

- Danny Canela: .333 BA, 5 2B, HR, 11 RBIs

- Trea Turner: .304 BA, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 12 RBIs; Turner leads the nation with 19 stolen bases.

- Andrew Ciencin: .302 BA, 4 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBIs (only struck out four times in 2012)

NC State Probable Starter

- The Wolfpack will start junior right-hander Ryan Wilkins on the mound. The San Diego, Ca., native and Palomar CC junior college transfer is the son of Dean Wilkins, who pitched in the major leagues with the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros from 1989-91.

- Wilkins has had mixed results in his first season donning a Wolfpack uniform. He was fantastic in his first three apperances - including picking up his first career win and save - but was roughed up in his last outing against Georgia Tech. He gave up 10 runs (nine earned) on 11 hits while striking out three in four innings of work against the Yellow Jackets.

- Wilkins was very effective in his first three outings of the season. His results are listed below:

vs. Wright State: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (earned), 0 BB 2 K

vs. George Mason: WIN, 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (earned), 2 BB, 4 K

vs. UNC Asheville: SAVE, 4.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (earned), 0 BB, 4 K

East Carolina News and Notes

- The Pirates enter the contest winners of their last three and six of seven as they look to pick up their second win of the season against a nationally-ranked opponent - beat Louisville, 9-4, on Mar. 11.

- ECU follows Tuesday's game with a Wednesday game on the road against High Point. The Purple and Gold hit the road this weekend for their Conference USA opening series against No. 19 UCF.

- The Pirates are ranked No. 25 by Perfect Game Baseball while receiving votes in the NCBWA and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.

- NC State has won the last two meetings between the schools - one in each of the last two seasons. The Pirates swept the Wolfpack in 2009 with 14-4 and 7-0 victories on Apr. 1 and Apr. 15, respectively.

Leading Hitters

- Drew Reynolds: leads team with .417 BA, 3 2B, HR, 3 RBIs, Pirate-best .475 on-base percentage

- Corey Thompson: .377 BA, club-best 23 hits, 4 2B, 3 HR, 16 RBIs, 14 runs, 10 BB

- Philip Clark: .333 BA, 19 H, 7 RBIs; In his last 11 at-bats, Clark is 5-for-11.

- Tim Younger: .333 BA, 18 H, 9 R, 7 RBIs, 10 BB

- Jay Cannon: .333 BA, 13 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs; blasted walk-off home run in Friday night's 5-4 victory over Penn State

- NOTABLES: John Wooten has belted three homers, a mark which ties Thompson for the team lead. Wooten is also tops on the club with 15 runs scored. Senior catcher Zach Wright is tied with his fellow classmate, Thompson, as each had collected four doubles. Wright has 12 RBIs thus far in 2012.

East Carolina Probable Starter

- Head coach Billy Godwin has given freshman right-hander Jeff Hoffman the starting nod for Tuesday's game. It will mark the first career start for the Latham, N.Y., native after appearing in five games out of the bullpen to this point.

- Hoffman has brought the ECU pitching staff a dynamic element as the 6-foot-4 hurler has been electric thus far. He has allowed just one run - it was unearned - on three hits while walking just one and striking out four in 8 2/3 innings of work in 2012.

- Hoffman earned First Team All-State New York honors as a senior at Shaker High School after leading his prep squad to a state championship with a complete-game victory in the title game.

- His best appearance as a collegiate was Mar. 11 against then-No. 20 Louisville. After entering the game with ECU holding a one-run lead in the top of the sixth frame, the lanky flamethrower pitched four perfect innings of relief, earning his first career save. He only struck out one Cardinal batter, but needed just 38 pitches (26 strikes) to retire 12 consecutive hitters. Furthermore, Hoffman retired the first four batters he faced against Penn State (his next outing) to sit down 16 straight before issuing a walk to end the streak.

- Hoffman's 2012 Outings:

vs. Milwaukee (Feb. 18): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

vs. Purdue (Feb. 25): 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K

vs. Stony Brook (Mar. 4): 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R (unearned), 1 BB, 0 K

vs. Louisville (Mar. 11): 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

vs. Penn State (Mar. 16): 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K

Check out the '10th Inning' following Tuesday night's contest as we will provide more coverage of the Pirates' midweek clash with in-state rival North Carolina State. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. (ET) inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.  


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