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NC State takes series at Hawai’i with 8-1 win

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Joe Dunand is heating up; Brett Kinneman is on fire; the young arms look good

Joe D in Hawai’i courtesy of Chip

NC State bounced back after dropping the second game of its opening series at Hawai’i with a convincing 8-1 win in the rubber match. Five pitchers combined to twirl a one-hitter in the series-deciding game, and Brett Kinneman had a couple of doubles and a walk to continue his torrid start to his sophomore campaign.

Walks plagued NC State hurlers—they issued eight free passes on Sunday—but it was the Rainbow Warriors’ generosity that staked the Pack to a 2-0 lead in the series finale. Evan Mendoza and Shane Shepherd drew back-to-back walks to open the second. Highly-touted freshman Brad Debo, making his first start, followed with a fielder’s choice that was thrown away in an effort to turn two. Mendoza scored and Debo went to second on the play. Joe Dunand, who went 2-for-3 with a walk to atone for a sluggish start to the season, singled home Debo.

Kinneman’s walk started a two-run rally in the sixth. Debo singled him home in the frame with his first collegiate hit. Josh McLain doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the seventh, and Mendoza added an RBI single to push the lead to 6-0. Lawson McArthur’s first career RBI hit plated Kinneman, who had doubled with two outs, as State went on to add two more in the top of the ninth.

Kinneman is batting .500 through three games with four doubles and a home run. McArthur is a perfect 2-for-2 off the bench.

Tommy DeJuneas drew the start for the Pack and managed 5.2 scoreless innings despite walking five and uncorking a pair of wild pitches. Freshman lefty Kent Klyman made his Wolfpack debut and bailed DeJuneas out of a jam in the sixth, retiring the only man he faced with runners on first and second and two outs. Hawai’i went 0-for-10 with runners on base.

Dalton Feeney was next to make his Pack debut and allowed the lone run for the ‘bows, though it was unearned. He fanned a batter in 1.2 hitless innings but also walked one and threw a wild pitch. Joe O’Donnell got the only batter he faced to end the eighth. Johnny Piedmonte, who begins the season as the team’s closer, pitched the ninth though it was far from a save situation. Piedmonte struggled mightily to find the zone, throwing just 11 of his 24 pitches for strikes, but worked around a pair of walks and a wild pitch to finish the game.

In all, five Pack hurlers debuted in the series: JUCO transfer Zach Ussellman and freshmen Mathieu Gauthier, Michael Bienlien, Klyman, and Feeney. Combined, the newcomers allowed just three hits and two earned runs in 7.1 innings. They did issue a couple of free passes and hit a pair of batters but fanned nine. Both earned runs were Gauthier’s responsibility, but at one point he struck out five batters in a row. There is a lot of young talent on this staff.

With Dunand finally scratching, Stephen Pitarra is the only Pack regular without a hit in 2017. He went 0-for-5 on Sunday and grounded into a double play.

State, facing a long flight east, has no midweek games before hosting Austin Peay in a three-game set that starts Friday at 3 p.m.