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Baseball Preview: No. 24 Wake Forest @ Appalachian State

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The freshly ranked Diamond Deacs head to Boone for a midweek tilt

NCAA Football: Camellia Bowl-Appalachian State vs Toledo Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest baseball team will play as a ranked team for the first time in 5 years this afternoon when they face off against Appalachian State in Boone at 5 P.M.

The Diamond Deacs enter the game at 18-7 (6-3 ACC), while the Mountaineers are 10-14 (1-5 Sun Belt).

Appalachian State was swept at home this past weekend by Texas State, managing just 7 runs in three games. On the other side, Wake Forest won 2 out of 3 against Georgia Tech, compiling 31 runs in three games.

On the season App State is 0-6 against teams in the RPI top 50, and Wake Forest enters the game ranked 13th. App State is 84th in the RPI, and Wake Forest is 6-3 against the RPI 51-100.

This is just the 6th home game of the season for App, going 2-3 on the year with wins over VMI and UNC-Asheville.

These are games that Wake Forest need to continue to win in the mid-week. The Deacs are 5-0 in mid-week games so far this year, winning by a combined score of 72-33 (an average of 14-6).

While it is important that the Deacs get these W’s, I would also like to see some guys get some at-bats in the lineup who haven’t played a lot this year. The roster has been surprisingly starter heavy in these mid-week games, and the backups/situational player haven’t gotten a lot of chances to get game reps.

Outside of the starting lineup there have been five other players to see at-bats this year, and they have combined for just 94 at-bats.

One guy in particular I am interested in seeing a little bit of is backup 1B freshman Zach Seal. Obviously he is behind Gavin Sheets right now, who has appeared in all 25 game, but Seal has played in 7 games and totaled 5 RBIs.

It’s pretty clear from the official site that Tom Walter expects Sheets to be gone after this year and Seal will have a chance to be his heir apparent:

"Zach has played most of the offseason learning to play first base. He will serve as the backup for Gavin Sheets this year with the opportunity to win a starting job as a sophomore. He's a right-handed bat who is aggressive at the plate. More than anything else Zach needs to add 15-20 pounds in the weight room and start to hit with power."

Colin Peluse (2-0) has gotten the start in the last two mid-week games to varying degrees of success.

He got the win against Charlotte last week despite pitching just two innings before the game was suspended to the next night. He allowed no hits and has a strikeout and a walk in the game.

Peluse also got the win in his prior start against High Point, despite allowing three runs over four innings. He struck out one batter and walked none. This limited sample size leads me to believe that he pitches to contact and doesn’t overwhelm the opposing batter with high velocity.

This is probably good for mid-week games because it allows the defense to get some reps and stay busy.

The Mountaineers are led on offense by Matt Vernon, who bats .306 on the year with four home runs. App State only has one everyday player batting over .300 (compared to 6 for Wake Forest), and have relied heavily on good pitching to stay in games this year.

It appears that Bobby Hampton (2-1) will get the call to pitch today for App, as he did not pitch in the series this weekend against Texas State. He has thrown 26.2 innings on the year and allowed 12 runs (4.05 ERA), with 23 strikeouts and 12 walks.

Overall today is another chance for Wake Forest to keep winning mid-week games, get some reserve players some at-bats, and stay sharp for the upcoming weekend series against the Miami Hurricanes.