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7th Inning Rally Powers #1 NC State to Series Win Over UVA

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RALEIGH, N.C. – Thanks to a four-run seventh inning, No. 1 NC State earned its 13th come-from-behind win of the season to clinch the series against Virginia with an 8-7 victory Sunday afternoon at Doak Field at Dail Park.

The Wolfpack has now won 11 games deciding by one run this season and owns 13 comeback wins, including eight when trailing after the sixth inning.

Virginia grabbed a 7-4 lead with four runs in the top of the seventh, but NC State answered with four runs, pulling ahead by the final margin, 8-7.

NC State moves to 27-2 on the year, leading the nation in wins, and is the first team in the ACC to reach 10 conference wins this season (10-2). Virginia falls to 16-12 and 6-6 in league play.

Sophomore Nick Swiney earned his second win on the mound, while Cameron Cotter came in late to shut the door and nail down his first career save. Virginia reliever Chesdin Harrington was charged with the loss.

Avent’s Additions

“I’m really proud of our ballclub,” said head coach Elliott Avent. “Virginia’s playing extremely well, that’s a team that has won a National Championship and a lot of games in our league. They got off to a slow start, but they’ve put it together and are playing with a lot of confidence.

“Sunday’s are hard to play, we’ve been in two tough games and that expends a lot of energy. All the come-from-behind wins give you confidence at how good you are and what you can do, but it also takes a little bit out of you.

“It’s been a grind, two midweek games after coming back from Miami. It’s really been tough, so I’m really proud of the way we came back. This team just doesn’t quit and it’s just amazing what they have done.”

Quick Hits

– NC State struck first in the contest for the 17th time this season, as the Wolfpack loaded the bases with nobody out in the second inning.

– A sacrifice fly to left field from David Vazquez plated the game’s first run, but a double play followed as the Pack was not able to get more.

– Virginia countered with a pair of runs in the fourth after an RBI single from Zach Gelof and an NC State error to take a 2-1 advantage.

– The Wolfpack answered in the bottom half following another RBI from Vazquez, as he singled to center field to score Tyler McDonough from second base to level the score at 2-2.

– Tanner Morris gave Virginia a 3-2 lead with a solo homer in the fifth, but it was short-lived, as NC State responded with a pair in the bottom half to retake the lead.

– Following a double from Vojtech Mensik and a single from Jonny Butler, Will Wilson reached on a fielder’s choice to the shortstop to plate Mensik.

– Butler got a great read on a pitch in the dirt that didn’t skip too far away from the UVA catcher and he was able to score from third on the wild pitch, giving his team a 4-3 lead.

– The teams combined to push across eight runs in the seventh inning, four for each team.

– Virginia strung together a few hits, as they seemed to find holes just out of reach of Wolfpack players.

– Butler ignited the NC State rally in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff triple to right center and Wilson followed with an RBI double down the left field line.

– Two batters later, Evan Edwards singled to the right side to score Wilson, cutting the UVA lead to 7-6.

– McDonough came up clutch, as he has done throughout the season, launching a two-run, go-ahead homer off the scoreboard in right field to put NC State on top, 8-7. It was his second homer of the year and it came on a 1-0 pitch.

– Virginia had the tying run on third with one out in the ninth, but Cotter induced a soft groundout to Wilson at shortstop and a flyout to Dillon Cooperin right field to preserve the win.

Inside the Box Score

– Wilson led the Wolfpack at the plate with a 3-for-5 performance, as he tallied three doubles, two RBI and a run scored.

– Butler and McDonough also tallied multi-hit games with the former adding two runs scored and the latter two RBI and two runs scored.

– Bailey and Edwards each extended their reached base safely streaks to 29 games, as they have been on base in every game this season.

On the Mound

– Seven NC State pitchers combined to walk just one batter in the game, while striking out seven batters.

– Redshirt sophomore Dalton Feeney made his first start of the season and threw 3.1 innings, allowing just three hits and struck out three batters.

– Swiney got the Wolfpack out of the top of the seventh after Virginia rallied and was credited with the win.

On Deck

NC State will return to action Tuesday eveningwhen the squad makes its second trip to the BB&T Ballpark in downtown Charlotte for a matchup with South Carolina. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: James Guillory

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NC State Baseball

Recapping #13 NC State’s Season Opening Series Win Over VCU

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This past weekend, #13 NC State won 2 out of 3 against VCU, winning their first series of the 2024 season. Let’s breakdown what we saw opening weekend.

Starting Pitching

Two out of three of the Wolfpack’s starters pitched well on opening weekend.

Senior Sam Highfill pitched 5 innings, and gave up only 1 run on 1 hit, striking out 6, picking up his first win of the 2024 season. The 5 walks were less than ideal. Considering the fact that Highfill threw 79 pitches, if he could have eliminated the walks, there’s the chance he could have gone 6 or 7 innings. All things considered, this was a great start to the season for Highfill, who primarily pitched out of the bullpen in 2023. After serving as a Starter in 2021 and 2022, Highfill only started in 6 of the 22 games he pitched in last year, posting an ERA of 4.83. Here’s to hoping his outing this weekend points to a return to form, when he posted a 3.66 ERA in 2021, with a 9-2 record.

True Freshman Ryan Marohn was sensational in his collegiate debut on Sunday, giving up 0 earned runs in 5 innings, while striking out 8. He gave up 2 hits and walked 3. After being drafted in the 20th round of the 2023 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Guardians, Marohn opted to come to NC State. After losing Matt Willadsen to injury, seeing Marohn pitch like this in his first start is extremely encouraging.

Sophomore Dominic Fritton struggled on Saturday, surrendering 6 runs (5 earned) in 4.1 innings pitched, while striking out 4. Fritton only walked 1 batter, which is an encouraging note from his 2024 debut. There is no need to panic. Fritton was fabulous in 2023, posting a 3.59 ERA as a Freshman. He earned First Team Freshman All-American honors by D1Baseball last year, and earned preseason 3rd Team All-American honors this year.

Relief Pitching

Sophomore Shane Van Dam lived up to the hype in his NC State debut on Friday night, closing things out after Highfill left the game. Van Dam picked up the Save, after pitching 4 scoreless innings, striking out 5, while walking 2. The Wolfpack picked up Van Dam in the Transfer Portal from Courtland, which is a Division III school, where he also played Quarterback on the Football team.

Even though Fritton gave up 6 runs (5 earned), it was Senior Logan Whitaker who picked up the Loss, giving up 3 runs (2 earned) in 3.2 innings. Whitaker struck out 3, while walking none.

Senior Hollis Fanning, who transferred in from Tennessee this offseason, struggled in his debut on Sunday, giving up 3 hits and 2 earned runs in 1 inning on Sunday in the Wolfpack’s 5-3 win.

Freshman Jaxon Lucas also gave up a run in his 1.2 innings pitched on Sunday. That run came on a home run, which was the only hit he surrendered. He did manage to strike out 3 in his collegiate debut. According to Perfect Game, Lucas was the #8 overall prospect in the state of North Carolina in the 2023 class, and the #117 player nationally.

Freshman Jacob Dudan was lights out opening weekend, giving up 0 runs in 2 appearances (Saturday and Sunday), striking out 2 in 2.1 innings, while only surrendering 1 hit. Dudan picked up the Save on Sunday.

Hitting

The first 5 batters in the Wolfpack lineup were the same in all three games.

  1. SR RF Noah Soles
  2. SO CF Eli Serrano III
  3. SR 1B Garrett Pennington
  4. JR C/DH Jacob Cozart
  5. SR 3B Alec Makarewicz

Junior Shortstop Brandon Butterworth also started in all three games. In two of the games he was in the #9 spot, and he hit out of the #8 spot in 1 game.

Junior Jacob Cozart is hitting .333 coming out of opening weekend, with 3 hits, 1 home run, 2 RBI and 4 runs. His batting average is the highest of any of the 3-game starters. Also, Cozart’s plate discipline was impressive, drawing 5 walks. Cozart was named to a handful of Preseason All-American teams, and is considered a possible 1st round pick this summer.

Soles and Pennington both picked up 4 hits, which is tied for the most on the team. They both boast .308 batting averages after the first 3 games. All 4 of Pennington’s hits were singles, while 2 of Soles’ hits were home runs. Pennington transferred in from Wichita St., where he had 15 bombs last season, so we know he has pop.

Makarawicz, who transferred in from East Carolina, had 3 RBI’s, which was tops on the team this weekend. He had 3 hits of his own, with 2 of them going for extra bases (1 2B & 1 HR).

Freshman Alex Sosa proved it might be hard to keep him out of the lineup this season, despite the fact Jacob Cozart is locked in at Catcher, and hitting cleanup. Sosa caught one game, and was the Designated Hitter in another game. He picked up 3 hits in 7 at bats (.429), collecting 2 RBI’s and 2 walks. Sosa was the #99 overall prospect nationally in the 2023 recruiting class according to Perfect Game, and the #8 Catcher.

Freshman Luke Nixon entered the season with a lot of buzz, but Sophomore Matt Heavner ended up getting the start at 2nd Base in 2 of the 3 games, and capitalized on the opportunity. He picked up 3 hits in 9 at bats (.333), with 2 of them going out of the park. Nixon was solid in his 1 start, going 2 for 3, with 1 RBI and a walk.

Redshirt Freshman Drew Lanphere played in 2 games, starting 1 (DH), and picked up 2 hits in 5 at bats (.400), with 1 RBI, 1 Run and 1 Walk.

The 3 batters who underperformed this weekend were Butterworth, Serrano III, Sophomore Josh Hogue (JUCO Transfer) and Junior Chase Nixon. Butterworth hit .222, while striking out 3 times. Serrano III did pick up 3 hits, but batted .214. There’s no need to worry about Serrano III. He earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman team last year.

There was a debate on who would be the Wolfpack’s starting Left Fielder this year: Hogue or Nixon. Hogue got the start in 2 of the 3 games on opening weekend. Neither one performed all that well at the plate. Hogue was 2 for 9, but did have 2 RBI’s. Nixon was 0-3.

 

 

 

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NC State Baseball

Elliott Avent Wins 1,000th Game as NC State’s Head Coach

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NC State defeated VCU 5-3 this afternoon, giving Elliott Avent his 1,000th win as the Wolfpack’s Head Coach.

Avent is the 5th active Division I head coach with 1,000 wins at one school, joining Danny Hall (Georgia Tech), Keith Guttin (Missouri State), John Anderson (Minnesota) and Gary Gilmore (Coastal Carolina). If you include inactive coaches, Avent is only the 35th coach in College Baseball history to win 1,000 games at a single school.

Back in 1997, Avent led NC State to a 6-0 win over Charleston Southern for his first victory as the Wolfpack’s head coach. This afternoon, 28 years later, Avent picked up win number 1,000.

Congrats Coach!

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NC State Baseball

NC State Starting Pitcher Matt Willadsen Out Indefinitely With Elbow Injury

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With 9 days until the first game of the 2024 season, NC State’s Baseball team received a devastating blow today, with news breaking that Senior Starting Pitcher Matt Willadsen is out indefinitely with an elbow injury.

Willadsen was the Wolfpack’s Saturday Starter in 2023, leading the team in innings pitched (81) and strikeouts (86). His 3.78 ERA ranked 2nd amongst the Wolfpack’s Starters.

His 45 career starts rank 5th in school history, and his 260 strikeouts rank 9th.

With the extent of the injury unknown at this point, hopefully it isn’t season ending.

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NC State Baseball

USAToday Includes NC State in Their 2024 College Baseball Preseason Top-25

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USAToday has released their 2024 College Baseball Preseason Top-25, and NC State is ranked 16th.

(USAToday)

ACC Teams in the Top-25

1) Wake Forest
9) Clemson
11) UVA
14) Duke
15) UNC
16) NC State

NC State will also play East Carolina (#12) twice and Coastal Carolina (#18) once.

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