GameDay Live Blog/Open Thread: Baseball vs JMU

Brett Friedlander

Pitchers and catchers might just be arriving at their respective Major League spring training camps. But for college baseball, opening day is today.

Although it's a little chilly here at Doak Field, where NC State is starting the 2020 season with the first of a three-game weekend series against James Madison, the sun is out, a good crowd is on hand and it's time to play ball.

The Wolfpack is rocking all red uniforms today, appropriate for Valentine's Day. It is yet to be seen if coach Elliott Avent's team looks as good in its performance as it does in the way it's dressed.

State's lineup has newcomer Austin Murr, who hit .406 in junior college last year, leading off with the team's two returning stars -- Tyler McDonough and Patrick Bailey -- batting second and third. McDonough is in centerfield, by the way, after spending most of the preseason working at second base.

The rest of the order has Devonte Brown in right, Jonny Butler in left, J.T. Jarrett at second, Brad Debo at DH, Vojtech Mensik at third and highly touted newcomer Jose Torres hitting ninth and playing short with junior Nick Swinney on the mound.

FIRST INNING 

Swinney gets off to a strong start by striking out the first two hitters he faces this season -- Chase DeLauter and Conor Hatrigan. He then gets Kyle Novak for a quick 1-2-3 inning ...

The Wolfpack goes down just as quietly. After Murr flys softly to left, McDonough and Bailey fan.

End of 1: State 0, JMU 0

SECOND INNING

Swinney records two more strikeouts and works around a two-out walk to JUM second baseman Fox Semones, who stole second even though he was picked off by Swinney. He made it into second safely because Murr's throw to second was high. ...

Devonte Brown picks up the first hit of the new season with an opposite field double off the base of the wall in right. Then, after fouling off pitch after pitch, Jonny Butler finally finds one he likes and on the ninth pitch of the at bat, drives the first homer of the year over the wall in right for a 2-0 Wolfpack lead ...

Jarrett and Debo followed with singles, the second on a hit-and-run, but Mensik and Torres -- in his first State at bat -- strikeout. Murr flies out to end the threat. But State draws first blood with a deuce on three hits ...

End of 2: State 2, JMU 0

THIRD INNING

Swinney is dealing today. Two more strikeouts to start the third to increase his total to seven. His career high is eight, three times with the most recent coming last season against Wake Forest in the ACC tournament. It will be interesting to see how far Avent lets him go in the opener. He's thrown 46 pitches, so he's got at least another couple of innings in him. By my guess he won't go more than five today ...

Patrick Bailey received plenty of hype during the offseason, earning preseason All-America mention from just about everyone that picks an All-American team. But he's off to a rough start, striking out in his first two at bats of the year.  He'll be fine, though. It's a long season ...

State can't do anything after walks to McDonough and Brown, followed by a wild pitch that got them to second and third with one out. But that's where they stayed as Butler flied out to shallow left and Jarrett fanned. Wolfpack has left four men on through three, a problem last season that's rearing its ugly head again in this year's opener. ...

End of 3: State 2, JMU 0

FOURTH INNING

Swinney wastes little time in tying his career high in strikeouts, getting Hartigan for the second time today. Kyle Novak then breaks up the no-hitter with a solid single to right ... 

But Novak is erased immediately when on the first pitch to cleanup man Brady Harju, Swinney induces a comebacker that turns into a 1-6-3 double play ...

The bottom of the State order goes down quietly ...

End of 4: State 2, JMU 0

FIFTH INNING

Swinney starts what will likely be his final inning of work with his career-high ninth strikeout, before giving up a bund single to No. hitter Josh Jones.  ...

Swinney picks off his second runner of the day, only this time they get him out at second with a good relay from Murr ... Semones then flys out to shallow left to end the inning. State's junior left-hander has only thrown 66 pitches through five innings, so he may have another inning in him ...

Wolfpack picks up another run on a walk to Bailey and a double to right center by Brown. That's two doubles and a walk today for Brown, who appears to be comfortable in the cleanup role ...

End of 5: State 3, JMU 0

SIXTH INNING

Swinney back out to start the sixth ... and issues a leadoff walk to eighth hitter DaVonn Griffin ...

That will get the Wolfpack bullpen up and throwing ... 

Avent has talked about bouncing Tyler McDonough back and forth between second base and center. But after that diving catch by McDonough, maybe he should think about keeping him out there. He just made a diving catch that turned into a double play. But the play is under review ...

McDonough played 60 games in center last season without making an error ...

The call is confirmed. Double play ...

And now Swinney punctuates a brilliant first outing with his 10th K ...

His line today: Six innings, no runs, two hits, two walks and 10 strikeouts. It's an extension of the way he finished last season. In his last 12 games of 2019, he pitched to a 1.75 ERA with 59 strikeouts ...

Three up and three down for the Wolfpack ...

SEVENTH INNING

End of 6: State 3, JMU 0

Swinney is back out there to start the seventh ... He's thrown 79 pitches. This is by far the longest outing of his career, surpassing the 4.1 he threw against Clemson last May 10. ...

News flash: Jose Torres has a cannon for an arm. He just got to show it off for the first time and it was quite impressive ...

Another 1-2-3 inning for the Wolfpack lefty, including his 11th strikeout. On to the seventh inning stretch ...

Murr gets his first hit with the Wolfpack, a hard-hit double just inside the line in right with one out in the bottom of inning ... JMU reliver Eli Ottenger wild pitches Murr to third, then unleashes another wild one to score him with an insurance run. 

Now McDonough walks to bring up Bailey and sends Dukes coach Marlin Ickenberry to the mound ... Whatever he said worked, because on the first pitch, Bailey hits into a 3-6-3 double play to end the inning ...

End of 7: State 4, JMU 0

EIGHTH INNING

Swinney's day is done ... Seven innings, no runs, two hits, 11 strikeouts and two walks for one helluva season debut ... Sixty-one of his 90 pitches were strikes ...

Right-hander Baker Nelson now on to pitch for the Wolfpack ... who breezes through the inning 1-2-3 ...

State also goes down quietly. Three more outs for a successful start to the new season ...

End of 8: State 4, JMU 0

NINTH INNING

Nelson will try to close this out. It's not a save situation ...

Griffin fans for the first out and Bailey takes care of a bunt by Zona for a quick second out. Thirteen strikeouts for Wolfpack pitching today ... 

Leadoff man DeLauter delays the inevitable with the Duke's third hit of the day, a flare to left ... And now a walk. Still one more needs to get on for the tying run to come to the plate ...

Now that it's a save situation, Avent goes to his bullpen and brings in closer Kent Klyman to get the last out ...

And he gets it, striking out Novak to end the game

It's the 1,100th career win at State for coach Elliott Avent 

Final: State 4, JMU0

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