No. 8 NC State (10-2) continued its hot streak Sunday afternoon, picking up its seventh straight victory with a win over Bucknell (5-5) at Doak Field at Dail Park, 5-2.
“We’ve played a really busy schedule,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “With the teams we’ve played, sometimes it’s kind of hard to survive. To be 10-2 with the teams we’ve played, it’s incredible.”
Joe O’Donnell (2-0, 3.43 ERA) started on the mound for the Wolfpack and picked up the win after giving up only two runs on five hits while striking out four and walking one in 5-1/3 innings. Cody Beckman, Kyle Smith, Will Gilbert and Tommy DeJuneas shut out the Bison for the final 3-2/3 innings.
“Our guys are doing a great job in winning these close games,” Avent said. “I think they play their best at the end, and they do a great job doing that. We probably need to get through the first four or five innings better.”
Chance Shepard and Preston Palmeiro continued their heroics at the plate. Shepard finished 2-for-4 at the plate with a two-run home run in the first inning, his seventh home run in his last seven home games. Palmeiro ended the afternoon 3-for-4 at the dish with a double and two runs scored. Palmeiro leads the team in hits (18), doubles (6), and runs (12).
“It’s been fun,” Shepard said. “I’ve just got to focus on putting balls in play. That’s been my goal for a while, but I struggled with it last night [against Alabama].”
Shepard’s two-run bomb in the first put the Pack ahead before State added another run in the third. Brock Deatherage led off with a single then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Josh McLain. Andrew Knizner singled to move Deatherage to third before the latter scored on a passed ball.
Bucknell added runs in the fourth and fifth before State scored again. Palmeiro led off the bottom of the fifth with a single. Knizner followed with a double into deep left-center field, plating Palmeiro.
The Pack added one more insurance run in the eighth. Shane Shepard reached on a one-out single before Garrett Suggs entered to pinch run. Joe Dunand followed with a single, moving Suggs to third. Stephen Pitarra plated Suggs with a bunt single to the right side. State followed with two fly-outs to center field, ending the inning with two runners left on base.
NC State will return to action against Fairfield on Tuesday and Wednesday at Doak Field before opening its conference schedule Friday at home against Boston College. All three aforementioned games will start at 3 pm.