Carlos Rodon surrendered a trio of gofer balls in six innings, one more than he allowed all of last season, as #8 N. C. State stumbled out of the gates in a 6-3 loss to visiting Appalachian State. The biggest of big blows came off the bat of Mountaineer freshperson Jaylin Davis, who launched a two-out, three-run bomb in the first inning on the first pitch he saw as a collegian.
Four Mountaineer hurlers combined to allow just four hits, led by starter Jamie Nunn, who surrendered just one earned run over 6 strong innings. Tyler Moore snuffed a Pack rally in the bottom of the eighth, fanning the only man he faced, and Rob Marcello shut the door with a perfect ninth.
Davis, who also doubled, and N. C. State sophomore speedster Trea Turner were the only players on either squad to collect more than one hit. Turner finished 2-for-4, scored two of the Pack's three runs, and swiped a pair of bags. Noah Holmes and Preston Troutman had solo shots for the Mountaineers, who seemed to resoundingly answer the question of whether or not they would have a power outage following the graduation of Daniel Kassouf, who mashed 17 taters last season en route to becoming only the program's second NCBWA all American.
N. C. State also lost a 17-homer guy, Ryan Mathews, from last year's squad, not to mention the top-of-the-order bat of Chris Diaz and on-base-machine Danny Canela. The box score shows that Elliott Avent clearly still has work to do to replace the lost production; guys not named Turner combined to for 2-for-26 with 8 strikeouts. The infield corners, in particular, are a big question mark (and need to be a source of power) for the Pack. Grant Clyde, who started at first base, and Sam Morgan, who got the nod at the hot corner, went a combined 0-for-6.
Freshman Will Nance started at DH and had one of the Pack's four hits, but, interestingly, Rodon moved to DH after he came off the mound. Rodon was 0-for-1 before being lifted for pinch hitter Brian Taylor against the lefty Marcello.
Minus the long ball, Rodon's line looked good. He had eight strikeouts and only one walk but suffered his first setback since his junior year of high school. Rodon was a perfect 9-0 last season for State.
Josh Easley and Grant Sasser made their return out of the Pack pen after missing last season with injury and combined with JUCO transfer Andrew Woeck to fan four without allowing an earned run over three innings.
An opening day record crowd of 2,396 witnessed the contest, as did former N. C. State greats Michael Rogers and Matt Payne, who are members of new ASU coach Billy Jones's staff. Jones, who was an assistant under Avent from 2002-2004, took over for Chris Pollard, who left for Duke after taking the Mountaineers to within one win of a super regional last year.
Jeffrey Springs, who was 2-1 with a 4.80 ERA last season, will try to give the Mountaineers their fifth consecutive win over an ACC opponent and sixth win against a ranked opponent over the last calendar year, in Saturday's second game of the series. Logan Jernigan (5-1, 5.71) will toe the rubber for the Pack. First pitch is at 1 p.m.