No. 8 NC State defeated Morehead State in the Wolfpack’s home opener Tuesday afternoon at Doak Field at Dail Park, 7-5.
After starter Cory Wilder left the game after giving up three runs in four innings, Will Gilbert (2-0, 3.48 ERA) picked up the win, only surrendering two runs while striking out six in four innings pitched. Tommy DeJuneas picked up his first save of the season after pitching a flawless ninth inning.
“I just try to come out everyday, bring the same stuff, and be consistent,” Gilbert said. “Sometimes as you throw, you get a better feel. That’s the case for a lot of the guys, and that was the case for me today. I definitely had a better feel for my slider there at the end.”
Xavier LeGrant catalyzed State’s offense with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate. The Charlotte, NC native drove in three runs and scored once for the Pack.
“He’s got a chance to be a really special player,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “He’s a freshman trying to feel his way through a very tough league. College baseball, at this level, is extremely difficult coming from high school, but you’re talking about a guy that can makes things happen. He has a knack for the game, and he has a chance to be a really good player in a long line of really good players at NC State.”
Preston Palmeiro, Andrew Knizner, Shane Shepard, and Chance Shepard also turned in multi-hit performances, all of which finished with two hits. Chance also contributed with two RBI while Shane and Brock Deatherage drove in one apiece.
After falling behind in the top of the first inning, State plated three in the bottom of the second. Back-to-back-to-back leadoff doubles from Shane Shepard, LeGrant, and Chance Shepard put the first two runs on the board for the Pack. Two batters later, Deatherage plated Chance Shepard with an RBI single.
One inning later, LeGrant drove in two more with a single that plated Joe Dunand and Knizner. State’s lead would hold until the Eagles tied the score at five apiece in the top of the fifth.
The Pack would reclaim the lead for good in the bottom half of the fifth. After leadoff singles from Palmeiro and Knizner, Dunand dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Shane Shepard followed with an RBI infield single, scoring Palmeiro. LeGrant walked to load the bases for Chance Shepard. The elder Shepard responded by ripping a full-count pitch into left field for a single, scoring Knizner. State would end the inning soon after, leaving the bases loaded.
State will return to action Wednesday, weather permitting, against St. John’s. First pitch is slated for 3 pm.