Wolfpack Tames Wildcats

RALEIGH, N.C. -- N.C. State wasted no time Friday afternoon in its first game of the 2015 season with two five-run innings in its 14-5 triumph over Villanova at Doak Field at Dail Park.

“We had a lot of positives,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “One, we played so many people, and everybody pretty much responded positively. Coming off the bench in a cold game where you sit for two or three hours is not an easy thing to do. Obviously, there are things to get better at, but there were way more positives today than negatives.”

In only his second career collegiate start, Cory Wilder (1-0, 0.00 ERA; 0-1, 6.75 in 2014) picked up his first win in a Wolfpack uniform after shutting out the Wildcats for five innings, surrendering only two hits and three walks while striking out five.

“Getting my first win as a college pitcher feels good,” Wilder said. “I started all summer, so I got into the role of starting, but it’s definitely different. I pitched over half of what I pitched all last season today.”

Sophomore first baseman Preston Palmeiro had a career-high four RBIs in a 2-for-4 showing that included his first career home run, a three-run blast over the right field wall in the second inning.

“[The home run] felt really good,” Palmeiro said. “I haven’t had a ball come off the bat like that in a while. [After the game,] my dad told me he was really impressed by it.”

Senior right fielder Jake Armstrong finished the afternoon 2-for-4 as well with three RBI, two of which came off of a triple in the first inning that helped propel State ahead early in the ballgame.

“It’s a step up from the last two opening days that we’ve had,” Armstrong said. “The run support was there for sure. It got a little shaky toward the end, but we’ll work those kinks out.”

A leadoff single by senior designated hitter Logan Ratledge followed by a walk to junior shortstop Ryne Willard set up an RBI single by sophomore catcher Andrew Knizner, bringing Ratledge home. Willard and Knizner crossed the plate on the subsequent triple by Armstrong who scored on a Palmeiro single one play later. The Pack’s scoring in the first inning concluded with a triple by freshman third baseman Joe Dunand, plating Palmeiro.

Ratledge led off the second with a walk. After a single by Wilard, Knizner once again scored Ratledge with an RBI single. Armstrong followed with another RBI single, bringing home Willard before Palmeiro’s three-run blast one play later. The homer chased Wildcat senior pitcher Josh Harris off the mound after giving up 10 runs in 1 2/3 innings.

The Pack struck once again in the third with Knizner scoring on a passed ball after leading off the frame by getting hit by Trevino Rodriguez. State kept quiet until the sixth inning when it scored two more runs. Freshman outfielder Brock Deatherage crossed home plate on a groundout by Dunand after pinch-running for Palmeiro following a walk.

Bubby Riley, who pinch hit for freshman left fielder Tommy DeJuneas in the third, scored two batters later on an RBI single by senior second baseman Joel McKeithan.

Freshman infielder Josh McLain, who entered the game in the sixth in place of senior center fielder Jake Fincher, ended the Pack’s scoring in the eighth. The Hiddenite native reached base on a wild third strike, reached second on a wild pitch and wound up on third following a groundout by Stephen Pitarra. McClain would finally score on a sacrifice fly by Ratledge.

State will return to action on Saturday against Davidson. Sunday’s matchup between the Pack and Appalachian State has been cancelled due to weather conditions.

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