Elon Tops NC State, 7-5

BURLINGTON, N.C. -- True to its nickname, every time NC State had Elon down the Phoenix would ultimately rise from the ashes. On Tuesday, the CAA school trailed twice against its ACC foe but refused to fold.

NC State led by two runs entering the bottom of the seventh inning but Elon rallied to defeat the Wolfpack, 7-5, at Latham Park on Tuesday. With the loss, State fell to 19-12 on the season while the Phoenix improved to 15-16 on the campaign.

There were chances for the Pack to take control but NC State left seven runners on base and the pitching staff combined to walk seven Elon batters, including one hit batsmen.

“I didn’t think we played with enough emotion,” NC State head coach Elliott Avent said. “I thought we missed our opportunities.”

NC State struck first in the top of the second inning. Ryne Willard singled with one out. The junior eventually made his way to third base as Elon starter Mike Krill uncorked two wild pitches. Following a walk to Joe Dunand, Joel McKeithan plated Willard with a deep sacrifice fly to left-centerfield.

The Phoenix did not take long to respond, as freshman designated hitter James Venuto smashed Jon Olczak’s first pitch of the bottom of the second over the wall in right-center to tie the score.

Preston Palmeiro ripped a RBI double off the wall in left-centerfield to give the Pack the lead once again in the top of the fifth. It was the sophomore’s team-leading 31st run-batted-in this season. Two innings later, Jake Fincher blasted a solo homer leading off the frame.

Elon would not be deterred. The Phoenix tied the game at five in the bottom of the seventh as Dunand made two errors, one fielding and one throwing, and gained the advantage for good in the following frame when Nick Zammerelli singled and two runners scored on Logan Ratledge’s throwing error.

“The thing that pops in my head is 11 free opportunities for them,” Avent said of the multiple walks, the hit batter and errors. “There is 27 outs in a game. That is enough to try to get without giving them 11 more things.That is ridiculous.”

“They are always top-40 RPI,” Avent added about Elon. “I don’t know about this year, but they play to win their conference and we have a lot of respect for them.” NC State returns to action on Wednesday as the Wolfpack travel to face UNC-Wilmington before its rivalry matchup against North Carolina beginning Friday. Avent is in no mood to wait for the games in Chapel Hill and wants a response against the Seahawks prior to facing the Tar Heels.

“There isn’t a lightswitch,” the head coach said. “These are 18-to-22 year olds. You would think they are capable of supplying energy every game. If they can’t, they better figure it out.”

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