By Will Thornhill
The NC State Baseball team opened up their 2019 season at home, in Doak Field against Bucknell, February 15th. Coming into the game the Wolfpack were ranked number 21 in the nation in the Perfect Game preseason rankings, and predicted to finish 4th in the ACC Atlantic Division. Their opponent, the Bucknell Bison, were predicted to finish 3rd in the Patriot League.
The starting pitcher for the Wolfpack, Junior Jason Parker, set the tone early throwing many strikes and getting a 3 up 3 down 1st inning. It didn’t take long for the Wolfpack bats to heat up on Opening Day, as Senior first baseman Evan Edwards, with 2 outs in the 1st inning, hit a 2-run moonshot Home Run to center field to give the Wolfpack a 2-0 lead. The Bison scored their first run of the game in the 3rd inning on an Evan Madigan RBI single to left field that scored Chris Carnizarro. NC State responded quickly in the bottom of the frame of when Sophomore catcher, Patrick Bailey hit a hard single up the middle to score Will Wilson. The Wolfpack weren’t done that inning as Evan Edwards was back at it again, this time with a triple to right-center to score Patrick Bailey. A JT Jarrett walk with the bases-loaded, scoring Edwards gave the Wolfpack their final run of the 3rd inning, which gave them a 5-1 lead.
Parker ran into some trouble in the 5th inning. With runners on 1st and 2nd and one out, Jack Schuler hit a hard ground ball down the 3rd base line, NC State 3rd baseman David Vasquez then proceeded to rob Schuler of an extra base hit, by fielding the ball, stepping on third, and making a strong throw to first base for the inning ending double play. Parker who was visually amped up after the double play, finished with 1 earned run, on 4 hits, and had 4 strikeouts in 5 innings pitched for the Wolfpack. Talking about his performance after the game, Parker quoted, “My fastball command was very good today”. Junior Relief pitcher, Dalton Feeney, from North Dakota, was called on to pitch the 6th and 7th innings for NC State, he retired all 6 batters faced in order and recorded 4 strikeouts out of the bullpen, on only 23 pitches.
NC State added 2 more runs in the 6th inning on a RBI single to center from Brad Debo, scoring Evan Edwards, and a RBI sacrifice fly to right, by JT Jarrett that scored Debo. In the 8th inning, Tyler McDonough hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Marek Chlup, and give the Wolfpack their 8th and final run of the game. The Bison kept fighting to the end, and were able to scratch a run across the board in the 9th inning on a single to left field by JohnPaul Bell scoring Dominic Toso. Senior pitcher, Nolan Clenney, came in to get the final 2 outs of the game, and got a strikeout and a pop out to close it out for the Wolfpack.
The Wolfpack beat the Bison by a score of 8-2, on Friday afternoon. Finishing the day with 9 hits, NC State Head Coach, Elliot Avent, was happy with the offensive production stating, “We had very good at bats with men in scoring position throughout the game. “The Wolfpack (1-0) and the Bison (0-1) will be back at it again Saturday, February 16th at 2:00 at Doak Field for Game 2 of the 3-game set.