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NC State downs Wagner, 14-1, in season opener

Whitaker tosses 7.0 shutout frames as Pack hitters pound out 19 hits

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAY 25 ACC Championship - Miami v NC State Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NC State didn’t need a big offensive output on Friday night to top the Wagner Seahawks in the season opener for both squads, but they got one anyways as the Wolfpack cruised to a 14-1 victory. State starting pitcher Logan Whitaker was excellent, even weathering a 40 minute rain delay, tossing 7.0 innings of shutout ball while the Pack tallied six runs over the first two frames to put the game away early.

The final line for Whitaker: 70 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K. He was efficient and effective all night, facing more than four batters in an inning just once on the night, and needing just 79 pitches in his outing.

While Whitaker was dealing on the mound, the Pack’s hitters were getting it done with the bat. It wasn’t always the hardest contact, but State’s hitters did a good job of putting the ball in play with just two strikeouts on the day. That’s a great sign given the high number of strikeouts from last year’s squad.

Four of the first five batters the Pack sent to the plate in the first reached base - all on singles - plating two runs on a two-run single by Payton Green. It was a similar story in the 2nd inning, with the first four Pack hitters reaching base (3 singles and a walk), capped by a two-run Noah Soles single. Trevor Candelaria and Green each tallied RBI singles later in the inning.

After the rain delay and following a pitching change, Jacob Cozart put the bow on the day with a two-run home run to left centerfield. It was all a matter of getting to the finish line from there.

Here’s that Cozart home run, because it was a great piece of hitting:

Eight State hitters tallied multiple-hit efforts on the day. Let’s put it in bullet form for ease:

  • Payton Green: 3-3, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1-1 SB
  • Jacob Cozart: 2-3, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB
  • Noah Soles: 2-2, 2 R, 2 RBI
  • Carter Trice: 2-4, 2 R, HBP
  • Trevor Candelaria: 2-5, RBI
  • Kalae Harrison: 2-4, R
  • Chase Nixon: 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI
  • Eli Serrano: 2-2, 2 R

Four of those guys (Trice, Candelaria, Harrison, Serrano) were making their Wolfpack debuts. Additionally, Cannon Peebles (1-1, 2B, 2 RBI), Isaiah Barkett (0-1), and Matt Heavner made their debuts in the red and white.

Speaking of NC State debuts, freshman Everette Harris (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) and junior Creed Watkins (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP) finished out the game on the mound.

It was also a clean defensive effort for the Wolfpack, another good sign after the defensive struggles of last year’s team.

The only negative on the evening for the Wolfpack was Win Scott needing to exit the contest after just two pitches. Scott was the first arm out of the bullpen, starting the 8th inning. After his second pitch, an errant high ball, the trainer came out to the mound and was shortly joined by pitching coach Clint Chrysler and Scott was removed from the game. That’s never a good sign, even though Scott didn’t show any particular grimace or grabbing of an area. Our thoughts are with Scott and hopefully this was just a move born of over-cautiousness.

The Wolfpack and Seahawks are set to continue the series Saturday at 2:00pm, with Matt Willadsen heading to the mound for State opposite Julian Chabot for Wagner.