NC State opens its home schedule after winning two of three games against Hawaii on the road to start 2017.
No. 6 NC State (2-1) began its 2017 campaign strong with victories last Friday and Sunday against Hawaii before it comes back to Doak Field at Dail Park for its home opener against Austin Peay.
Senior pitcher Sean Adler and the Wolfpack kicked off the season strong with a 4-0 shutout over the Rainbow Warriors. Adler hurled five innings of four-hit ball before redshirt sophomore Austin Staley and junior Zach Usselman finished the rest of the way on the mound. The trio combined for four strikeouts in what can be considered a modest display of pitching prowess.
The star of Friday’s contest was definitely freshman infielder Will Wilson, the Pack’s designated hitter. The Kings Mountain native shone brightly with a 3-for-4 performance with two doubles, three RBI and a run scored, accounting for all of State’s runs. Sophomore left fielder Brett Kinneman also contributed a pair of two-baggers, finishing 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Saturday was less impressive as the Bows rocked redshirt junior pitcher Cody Beckman for five runs in three innings of work as State dropped the second contest, 8-3. However, freshman pitcher Mathieu Gauthier emerged as a beacon of hope in the loss, striking out six Hawaii batters in only 2-2/3 innings of work despite also surrendering two runs. Kinneman and junior first baseman Shane Shepard also had the opportunity to flex their muscles as the pair blasted the Wolfpack’s first home runs of the season.
After spending his first two years as a late-inning reliever, junior pitcher Tommy DeJuneas started his first collegiate game and picked up the win after 5-2/3 innings of shutout baseball. The Wolfpack took the series with a strong offensive drubbing with a final score of 8-1. Junior third baseman Evan Mendoza scored three times in Sunday’s contest, finishing 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI.
Kinneman already appears to be the top player for the Pack heading forward, leading the team with a .500 average with six hits, four doubles, and a homer. Wilson, sporting a .333 mark, has a strong chance of working his way into the starting infield, especially if juniors Stephen Pitarra (0-for-12) and Joe Dunand (2-for-9) continue to struggle.
Aside from Beckman’s lackluster Saturday, the Pack pitching staff looks poised to continue its success, especially with junior Brian Brown coming back into the rotation after missing the Hawaii trip.
NC State appears to have found paradise with its roster for 2017. The Wolfpack will look to continue its good fortune starting Friday against Austin Peay. First pitch is slated for 3 pm.