Johnny Piedmonte was masterful, picking up where he left off last season with seven strong innings to pitch NC State past Seton Hall in the second game of their opening day doubleheader. Piedmonte, who was a perfect 7-0 a season ago, allowed a run in the first but was never seriously threatened after the opening frame in the Pack’s 3-1 win.
Brock Deatherage homered in both halves of the twin bill; his monster shot over the scoreboard put the Pack up 3-1 in the fourth. Freshman Terrell Tatum, making his Pack debut, doubled in the right center gap to lead off the third and came around to score on an errant throw on Will Wilson’s infield hit. Tatum finished 2-for-4 but struck out twice. The Pack went down on strikes 11 times in the game.
A bunch of weirdness gave State the lead later in the third inning. With the bags packed, Shane Shepard popped up into a robust wind. The infield fly rule was called even though the shallow pop seemed far from routine. It dropped in, but State’s baserunners didn’t seem to know that the infield fly rule was in effect and that they didn’t have to try to advance. Brad Debo was easily tossed out at third, but fortunately Will Wilson crossed the plate an instant before Debo was tagged out. Since the double play—remember Shepard was already out due to the infield fly rule—was not the result of a force out, Wilson’s run counted and Shepard got credit for an RBI on an infield fly rule out, which I can honestly say I’ve never seen before.
Elliott Avent didn’t like what he saw and lumbered out on to the field to protest vehemently. I don’t know if he was arguing because the call wasn’t demonstrative enough or because he thought it shouldn’t have been an infield fly rule call to begin with, but all’s well that ends well since State picked up the go-ahead run on the play.
Piedmonte allowed just two hits in his seven innings, including none after the first inning. He struck out seven to just one walk. JUCO transfer Nolan Clenney became the seventh Pack player to debut in the doubleheader and got four outs for a hold, though he was lifted in favor of Kent Klyman after allowing a one-out hit in the ninth. Klyman came in for a LOOGY assignment and managed to fan the only batter he faced despite falling behind 3-1 in the count. Joe O’Donnell got the final out on a foul pop up to earn his first save of the season.
While NC State had a number of new faces make their debut in the twin bill, the seniors were the story. Brown and Piedmonte combined to allow just three hits and two runs while striking out 12 in 13 combined innings. Deatherage went yard twice and Shepard homered in the opener. O’Donnell notched the save.
After an off day tomorrow, the Wolfpack will try for the sweep Sunday at 1 p.m.