Sophomore Kevin Woodall Jr. was told about an hour before the game Saturday that he’d be filling in for injured first baseman Tyler Chadwick and making his first start since March 22.
“Definitely a little nerves, but being around the older guys, they really settle you down. It was good,” he said.
After all, Woodall has been waiting for this kind of opportunity all season, stuck behind two proven veterans in Chadwick at first and junior G.K. Young at designated hitter.
And he made the most of it, contributing a key RBI single in the top of the eighth inning to help Coastal Carolina pull away and eventually close out a 4-0 win over N.C. State once the game was completed Sunday following an overnight weather delay.
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“It was definitely a big thrill. I’ve been preparing for it all year, just getting ready,” Woodall said. “Chadwick got hurt, and Gilley came to me and said, ‘I’m going to start you.’ So I knew it was my time to step up, and I just tried to do the best I could do.”
Chadwick is sidelined with a pulled/strained oblique muscle that bothers him when he swings, coach Gary Gilmore said. He didn’t offer a timetable for his return.
The injury stems from last week and Chadwick played in the opener of the NCAA Regional on Friday before deciding it was affecting him too much. So if he remains out, Woodall will get an extended opportunity.
The sophomore, known to his teammates as “Woody,” has flashed his potential at times this season despite batting just .204 in 54 at-bats. He has three home runs, including a pinch-hit grand slam at Georgia Tech, and has actually played in 54 games while often coming in as a late-inning defensive replacement.
“He’s just been in a tough spot all year. He’s a guy that should have been playing all year, but how do you bench one of the two guys?” Gilmore said. “It’s been tough on me all year long because he’s a very deserving player. Chadwick’s been huge for us over his career and this year too. Both those kids are great players, and Woody will do a great job for us.”
Rematch with the Wolfpack
N.C. State looked fired up after losing to Coastal Carolina as it bounced right back with a 17-1 win over Navy in an elimination game.
So the Wolfpack (37-21) will get another shot or two at the Chants (46-15) in the regional finals Monday at 1 p.m. with the if-necessary tiebreaker game set for 6 p.m.
Coastal Carolina needs just one win to advance to the NCAA super regionals while N.C. State would have to win twice Monday as per the double-elimination regional format.
“We’re going to go back and relax a little bit and see how things play themselves out,” Gilmore said after his team’s win Sunday. “We’re not going to look at putting a lot of pressure on ourselves that, hey, it’s one game, it’s one game, we’ve got to do all these crazy things. We’ll worry about game time tomorrow and first pitch and work it from there.”
He said in his postgame media session that he had not decided on a pitcher for that game.
The most likely options would be sophomore right-hander Zack Hopeck (3-2, 3.15 ERA) or freshman righty Jason Bilous (3-1, 3.96), who both pitched exceptionally well in the Big South tournament last week.
“[N.C. State coach Elliott Avent] and I have been friends for 20-some years and I know … those guys are going to give us all we want and more,” Gilmore said. “They’re going to come to play and compete and it doesn’t matter where you’re at with pitching at that point in time – everybody’s going to kind of be on fumes.”
Remillard fine after slide
The Chants had a brief scare Saturday night when senior third baseman Zach Remillard dived head first back into first in the sixth inning and came up favoring his arm.
He finished the game, though, and later delivered an RBI double in the eighth and an RBI single in the ninth and said afterward that his arm is not an issue.
“I’m fine. I just hit my funny bone on the ground, but I’m feeling much better,” he said.