2023 Campbell vs UNC Wilmington

CAA Matchups Of The Week: Ranked Future CAA Squad Campbell To Visit UNCW

CAA Matchups Of The Week: Ranked Future CAA Squad Campbell To Visit UNCW

Mid-April may seem like a long way from the postseason, but at the speed at which the baseball schedule can go, a month and a half of time can fly by.

Apr 13, 2023 by Briar Napier
CAA Matchups Of The Week: Ranked Future CAA Squad Campbell To Visit UNCW

Is it just the temperature getting warmer, or is it the state of the Colonial Athletic Association baseball scene getting that much hotter and as the stakes continue to grow?

Maybe a little bit of both.

Mid-April may seem like a long way from the CAA Tournament, which will take place from May 24-27, but at the speed at which the college baseball schedule can go, a month and a half of time can fly by. 

Plus, there never can be too much nonconference resume-strengthening. The all-important midweek games outside of the CAA realm give ample opportunities for the league’s programs to boost their credentials and work toward their postseason goals.

Moods and trends can change suddenly in baseball, though. 

A mid-April week of games, however, demands stability and consistency from squads – or else they may pay the price later at an inopportune time.

Here’s a look at the matchups to watch across the CAA schedule this week, with many games

throughout the conference schedule being streamed live on FloBaseball.

NOTE: All start times are listed in Eastern Time and are subject to change.

William & Mary Vs. Elon

Having appeared on the last edition of the CAA Baseball Games of the Week due to its potential implications for the regular-season conference title race, the Elon-UNC Wilmington’s series last weekend instead was a bit drama-free.

Weather postponements limited the Phoenix and Seahawks to just a Sunday doubleheader that they split, leaving the top two spots in the conference standings unchanged. 

That result, however, benefitted Elon, as it kept a one-game lead over UNCW and continued to ensure that hard-charging Northeastern was at arm’s length at two games behind, closing out a strong week that also saw it upset a then No. 2-ranked Wake Forest in one of the biggest upsets by a CAA baseball team in history. 

But there’s little break for the Phoenix.

Up steps the Tribe this weekend for a three-game series.

William & Mary's loss to Stony Brook on Sunday ended an eight-game tear for W&M that included nonconference wins over a ranked Campbell and Maryland of the Big Ten Conference, as well as a sweep over the BIG EAST’s St. John’s. 

A unique rotation philosophy instituted by Tribe coach Mike McRae – where pitchers are limited to no more than 18 batters per appearance – worked wonders during the winning streak and has the team holding the lowest overall team ERA (3.44 as of Tuesday evening) among CAA teams this season. 

In league play only, however, Elon reigns supreme with an elite 2.76 mark, led by an underclass trio of starters – Justin Mitrovich, Shea Sprague and Ryan Sprock – that has oozed poise beyond their years on the mound this year. 

The three have helped the Phoenix pitching staff tally a league-best 128 strikeouts in CAA play – and no team in the conference has struck out more against league foes than the Tribe’s 127 Ks.

Delaware Vs. North Carolina A&T

It’s never too early to prepare and look ahead. 

Only six teams will make it to the CAA Baseball Championship in late May to determine the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and as of this moment, UD and A&T are in the No. 6 and No. 7 slots, respectively. 

This series may not be a super high-stakes matchup right now on the surface, but if league positions hold, or stay similar, it could have serious postseason implications down the line. 

Delaware closed Tuesday (when it picked up a nonconference victory over Saint Joseph’s) as, quite literally, the most bang-average team in the CAA. 

The Blue Hens have a .500 record in league competition and overall, but critically, they also have arguably the CAA’s most feared hitter, who has the ability to shoot them to the moon.

Redshirt junior Joey Loynd has erupted into a monster at the plate against league competition, batting .456 since conference games got going, along with an .807 slugging percentage, both of which are the best in the CAA. 

His three-hit, four-RBI day against a top-tier Northeastern pitching staff over the weekend (as part of a 10-3 win over the Huskies in the series opener) showcased why he’s likely the most matchup-proof slugger in the league and must be respected in the box, especially considering that he’s already up to eight games on the season with at least four RBIs. 

The Aggies, meanwhile, have been a bit sidetracked as of late with game postponements, only playing one game out of its weekend series against Monmouth – a 2-0 loss Sunday). The Aggies scheduled clash for this past Tuesday against Gardner-Webb also was shelved. 

With better weather hopefully in the mix this weekend in Newark (there’s a chance of precipitation, most likely Saturday), A&T will look to get back on the right foot after only securing a pair of hits in its lone game against the Hawks.

UNC Wilmington Vs. Campbell

William & Mary was the first CAA team this year to conquer the Camels (ranked 14th in the most recent top-25 poll) in a nonconference meeting. 

Can UNCW make it a double? 

To be clear, Campbell – which will join the CAA from the Big South Conference on July 1 – if you’re unaware, quickly is turning into one of the most powerful mid-major college baseball programs in the country, so a victory over the Camels is a serious accomplishment. 

Coach Justin Haire’s machine has made four straight NCAA Tournaments, on top of being pretty dominant in the Big South, winning seven of a possible eight (not counting 2020) conference regular-season and tournament titles from 2018-2022. 

And, at a 25-7 overall record (with an 11-1 mark in the Big South) as of Tuesday night, the Camels look bound for yet another run of the table in their current league. 

But as they learned when the Tribe socked it to them last month, their future league mates are not going to lay down and let Campbell walk all over them. 

The Seahawks look to be in a title fight of their own and may be one of the main adversaries the Camels will square off against toward the top of the league standings for years to come, making Tuesday’s meeting a bit of a preview for the high-level baseball that’s to come. 

For now, UNCW must respect Campbell’s ability to run teams ragged. Only Florida Gulf Coast has scored more runs this season than the Camels’ 321 – the same amount, as of this writing, as No. 1-ranked LSU – as they rank tied-first in the country in runs per game (10.4) and sit in the top 5 nationally in both home runs (69) and slugging percentage (.597). 

With a series on the road at NCAA Tournament stalwart and reigning Big 12 Conference champ TCU this weekend, the Seahawks have set lofty expectations for themselves. Toppling the Camels could put them one step closer to reaching them.