Pilolli runs

Sophomore outfielder Dominiv Pilolli sprints to second base during the game against Radford on Friday, April 29, 2022. Pilolli scored two runs with the Wolfpack beating the Highlanders 6-2.

A late-game offensive surge powered the NC State baseball team to a 6-2 win over the Radford Highlanders.

The Wolfpack (27-13) surged past the Highlanders (13-28) despite a slow start to the game. NC State went until the sixth inning before it gained its first hit.

Although Radford took a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning, it was only a matter of time until the Wolfpack offense got going. The bottom of the sixth saw the Pack register its first hit of the night with a single by freshman pinch-hitter Chase Nixon, then sophomore right fielder Noah Soles put NC State on the board by driving in Nixon on a groundout. Senior second baseman J.T. Jarrett then singled home redshirt junior shortstop Josh Hood to knot it up at 2-2.

Later in the inning, sophomore left fielder Dominic Pilolli crushed a go-ahead home run to put NC State ahead 4-2. The home crowd erupted as the momentum suddenly shifted in favor of NC State. The Wolfpack never looked back, maintaining its lead for the rest of the game.

“At 3-1 I was still looking fastball,” Pilolli said. “But I saw the change-up up and adjusted to it and I was able to keep it fair. Usually that ball will spin off and it’ll yank foul, but it was a good at-bat and a step in the right direction.”

In the top half of the sixth inning with one out, freshman third baseman Tommy White was injured as he dove for a grounder down the third base line. Freshman infielder Payton Green was subbed in for White as he left the game. Head coach Elliott Avent described it as a dislocated shoulder, but more information will be available after a doctor’s visit tomorrow.

Redshirt sophomore right-hander Logan Whitaker got the start for the Wolfpack, pitching 5.2 innings. For the first four innings, he allowed two hits but worked his way out of each frame, keeping Radford scoreless. Whitaker saw the Highlanders draw first blood in the fifth, however, starting with a runner reaching base on an infield error. A two-out double down the third base line drove in both of the Highlanders’ runs.

Whitaker worked his way out of this jam as well and limited the damage to just two runs. He was pulled in the top of the sixth in favor of junior righty Baker Nelson. Whitaker finished with two unearned runs on six hits and four strikeouts.

After Nelson finished the inning, sophomore righty Justin Lawson pitched the seventh inning and retired all three batters. In the eighth, sophomore lefty Chris Villaman entered and pitched the rest of the game. He only allowed one hit and notched two strikeouts as the Wolfpack came away with the win.

“They were just really good,” Avent said. “Lawson was really good. Villaman was really good again tonight; he's been really good lately. We know with [sophomore right-handed pitcher Sam Highfill] out, people have stepped up, and Lawson was one of them. Whitaker stepped up. It's just good to watch these guys.”

In the bottom of the seventh, freshman pinch-hitter Will Marcy smacked a solo homer to extend the Pack lead to 5-2. Later in the eighth, NC State tacked on another run when three straight walks loaded the bases, and senior center fielder Devonte Brown grounded out, allowing Pilolli to run home and make the score 6-2.

The series will continue on Saturday, April 30, with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. at Doak Field. Following a rocky series at then-No. 11 Louisville last weekend, the Pack will be looking to remain in the win column.

“Wins are good and losses aren’t good,” Pilolli said. “We're stringing together good at-bats. Our pitchers have been phenomenal… As long as we keep playing our brand of baseball, we’ll be good. Honestly, I don't think we’ve played our best brand of baseball at all this year, so it's a scary part, and it's a good thing.”