NC State's Brad Debo (Aaron Fitt)


Fall Report: NC State

Fall Report

RALEIGH, N.C. — NC State’s fall came to a dispiriting end in Sunday’s scrimmage against the Czech Republic — and not because of the result of the game, a 4-3 walk-off win for the Wolfpack. In the eighth inning, sophomore righthander Dalton Feeney entered the game, but he stormed off the mound after his third pitch, hurling his glove against the back wall of the dugout with his left arm. He had blown out his elbow.

Feeney owns the biggest arm on NC State’s staff — his first two pitches of the inning were 94 and 93 mph, and he can touch higher than that. He was a strong bet to assume a weekend rotation role as a sophomore, quite possibly the Friday starter job.

“He’d been throwing good, too. Really good. Thought he was starting to figure it out,” coach Elliott Avent said somberly afterward. “The big thing that’s going to make you hopefully a national championship team is Feeney, (Mathieu) Gauthier, some of the sophomores, (Michael) Bienlien — them stepping up to elevate their game, that’s where the difference is gonna be. That’s why the Feeney thing is so disappointing. … When somebody possibly steps out of the picture like Feeney, some other guys will have to step more to the forefront. But obviously that was a big blow today. A big blow.”

The Wolfpack has a pair of obvious weekend starters back in seniors Brian Brown (4-3, 3.76 in 67 IP) and Johnny Piedmonte (7-0, 2.77 in 61.2 IP), who are steady, experienced veterans. Neither has the huge stuff you’ll see from other Friday aces around the ACC, but both have pitchability and good enough offspeed stuff to put hitters away. When he’s really on his game, Piedmonte can be overpowering, particularly given the extension he generates in his 6-foot-8 frame. And Brown owns one of the ACC’s best changeups. Senior righty Joe O’Donnell (4-0, 3.91, 7 SV) and fourth-year junior righty Austin Staley (2-3, 3.59, 5 SV) return to give the bullpen a pair of bulldogs to lean on, which should give the coaching staff some peace of mind in the late innings.

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