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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.

 

 

 

Matthew is Co-Owner of Pack Insider. He writes for all sports, with a focus on football and recruiting, and is in charge of business strategy. He is an NC State alum who majored in business. Matthew is also the lead pastor of The Point Church in Cary, NC.

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NC State Baseball

NC State Can’t Pull Off the Comeback, Losing 4-5 to UNCW on the Road Yesterday

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In case you missed it, NC State (18-12) lost to UNCW (20-13) 4-5 on the road last night, losing their 5th straight.

Senior Hollis Fanning started his first game of the season, but he would also pick up his first loss of the season. Fanning gave up 3 earned runs in 1.1 innings pitched. On the year, Fanning is 2-1 with an ERA of 7.98.

Junior Win Scott came in and pitched a career high 4.2 innings, giving up 2 earned runs, while striking out 3. Scott’s ERA on the year is 8.31.

Sophomore Derrick Smith pitched the final 2 innings, and they were spotless, striking out 5 (career high), while failing to give up a hit or a walk. Smith’s ERA on the year is 10.80.

Senior 3rd Baseman Alec Makarewicz went bonkers, going 4 for 5 with 2 Home Runs, 4 RBI’s, and 2 Runs.

A-Mak’s career high entering this season in Home Runs was 11, but he already has 13 this season. He is currently batting .350.

Last night’s loss was one of missed opportunities. NC State actually had more hits than the Seahawks (8/7), and also walked 4 more times (6/2), but the Wolfpack managed to leave 10 on base.

The Wolfpack will conclude a 7-game road trip this weekend, playing a 3-game series against #2 Clemson down in South Carolina.

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NC State Baseball

NC State Falls to Louisville 6-7 in Series Finale due to Defensive Woes

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#19 NC State likely won’t have a number beside their name when the new polls come out later today. The Wolfpack lost 6-7 at Louisville yesterday, suffering a sweep at the hand of the Cardinals. NC State lost all 4 games last week, losing a midweek game to East Carolina as well.

Yesterday’s game was lost due to defensive errors. Three of Louisville’s runs were unearned, as a result of 3 Wolfpack errors. NC State ranked 9th in Fielding Percentage last year, committing 52 errors. Currently, the Wolfpack ranks 11th in Fielding Percentage, and have already committed 32 errors.

Freshman Ryan Marohn gave up 5 runs in 3 innings pitched, but only 2 of them were earned. As a result, he picked up his 2nd Loss of the season, and now has a 2-2 record, and a 4.99 ERA.

Freshman Jacob Dudan also gave up 2 earned runs in 2.2 innings, and now has an ERA of 4.76.

The Wolfpack trailed 7-1 at the end of the 4th inning, but they almost pulled off the upset.

Senior 1st Baseman Garrett Pennington continues to establish himself as the Wolfpack’s best bat, hitting his 9th and 10th Home Runs of the season yesterday. Pennington was 2 for 4 with 3 RBI’s and 2 Runs.

Pennington’s Batting Average is up to .373.

Junior Catcher Jacob Cozart and Redshirt Freshman Drew Lanphere both had 2 hits in the contest. Junior Outfielder Chase Nixon, Sophomore Left Fielder Josh Hogue and Junior Shortstop Brandon Butterworth each had an RBI.

Butterworth took the first pitch of the game over the fence.

NC State will look to right the ship on Tuesday night in a road game at UNC-Wilmington.

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#19 NC State Loses 6-7 at Louisville, Losing the Series in the Process

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#19 NC State lost to Louisville 6-7 yesterday, and as a result, the Cardinals clinched a series victory. Wolfpack Senior Starter Sam Highfill was unable to go on Friday night due to illness, and Dominic Fritton’s Sophomore Slump continued.

Fritton surrendered 7 earned runs in 3 innings pitched, walking 5, while striking out none. On the year, Fritton is 1-3 with a 9.29 ERA. The Preseason All-American has struggled in every single contest of 2024.

On the other hand, Sophomore Shane Van Dam came in and cleaned things up, pitching 5 scoreless innings, allowing only 2 hits. Unforuntaetly, the damage had already been done.

Van Dam’s ERA on the year is 2.78.

Senior 1st Baseman Garrett Pennington had 3 RBI’s, with 2 of them coming off of a double in the Top of the 4th. Sophomore Left Fielder Josh Hogue also had a 2 RBI double in the Top of the 4th.

The Wolfpack are now 18-10 on the year, and 8-6 in conference play. The series finale is today at 1pm.

 

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#19 NC State Falls 1-11 in Series Opener vs. Louisville in Absence of Highfill

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#19 NC State was without their Friday starter this evening in the series opener against Louisville on the road. Senior Sam Highfill was a late scratch due to illness. As a result, it turned into a bullpen game, and that wasn’t a concoction for victory for the Wolfpack.

Within 2 innings, the Cardinals were up 6-0. Freshman Heath Andrews gave up 4 runs in 1 inning, and Freshman Cooper Consiglio gave up 2 in 2.2 innings. Later in the game, Senior P.J. Labriola surrendered 3 runs, failing to record an out.

After 7 innings, Louisville was up 11-1 (they scored 5 in the bottom of the 7th), and the game was called due to mercy rule.

It wasn’t strictly the Wolfpack pitchers that struggled. The NC State bats couldn’t get anything going either, recording only 3 hits in 7 innings.

The Wolfpack’s only extra-base hit, and RBI, was via the bat of Senior 1st Baseman Garrett Pennington, who hit a solo shot in the 4th inning. The bomb was Pennington’s 8th of the year.

NC State is now 8-5 in ACC play, ranking 2nd in the conference.

The Wolfpack will look to even the series with the Cardinals tomorrow at 1pm.

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