No. 14 NC State (21-9, 6-5 ACC) overcame an early five-run deficit to pulverize Wake Forest (19-13, 5-8 ACC) Friday evening at Doak Field, 11-7.
“Wake Forest won seven out of 10 coming in,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “They won a tough game on the road the other night, so that gave them a lot of confidence and a lot of momentum. Then they go up 5-0 with arguably their best pitcher out there [Parker Dunshee].
“With that said, you’ve got to give our team a tremendous amount of credit for being down 5-0 against a guy who’s a strike-thrower and the way they just kept fighting and clawing. I’m just really proud of our guys right now.”
Joe Dunand led the Wolfpack offensive in the series opener against the Demon Deacons. He finished 2-for-5 with three runs scored for the game and a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“We got down early, but we battled back,” Dunand said. “It was a good team win.”
Brock Deatherage also had a home run. His two-run bomb in the bottom of the fifth sparked what resulted in a five-run inning, tying the game for State after Wake entered the frame with a commanding 5-0 lead. Deatherage finished the day 1-for-4 at the plate.
Johnny Piedmonte started on the mound but was chased off the mound after 1-2/3 innings of work. He gave up four runs on four hits and two walks while striking out one. Austin Staley relieved Piedmonte, shutting out the Deacons for 2-1/3 innings. Staley struck out four batters while only allowing a hit.
Karl Keglovits (1-0, 1.93 ERA) picked up the win after relieving Staley. He surrendered an unearned run on two hits and a walk while striking out two. Tommy DeJuneas earned his sixth save of the season in a three-inning outing. He gave up two runs in the ninth while striking out five Wake Forest batters.
“I knew we had a big lead, and I had to throw strikes,” DeJuneas said. “I had a great defense behind me, and I knew they would make plays for me.”
Xavier LeGrant started the Pack’s fifth-inning rally with a double into left-center field before Deatherage’s two-run bomb.
“It was crucial,” Dunand said. “When you’re down, you want to battle back. It doesn’t matter if you’re down one run or two runs or whatever. It was big time for Brock and for the team.”
Back-to-back singles by Josh McLain and Andrew Knizner put runners on the corners for Preston Palmeiro who plated McLain with a sacrifice fly.
Two batters later, Dunand reached on a fielder’s choice while Knizner reached second on a throwing error, keeping the inning alive. Shane Shepard plated Knizner and Dunand with a bloop hit into center, credited as a fielding error on Wake Forest second baseman Nate Mondou. The inning ended on the next play, but the game was nodded up at five apiece.
NC State took the lead for good in the next inning. After LeGrant and Deatherage were retired to start the bottom of the sixth, McLain doubled into left field. Knizner was hit by a pitch, and then Palmeiro walked to load the bases. Brett Kinneman hit a grounder to Wake first baseman Gavin Sheets, but he botched the play, resulting in McLain crossing the plate to break the tie. Dunand stepped to the plate and launched the first pitch he saw over the fence.
The Pack managed to load the bases again in the inning thanks to a double by Shepard and back-to-back walks to Evan Mendoza and LeGrant, but the inning ended with a line-out to right.
State plated its final run of the contest in the bottom of the eighth. Dunand led off with a single up the middle. Following strikeouts to Shepard and Mendoza, LeGrant singled up the middle. After stumbling on the base paths between third and home, Dunand took off for the plate on the throw to third. The throw to home was dropped by Demon Deacons’ catcher Ben Breazeale, increasing the Pack’s lead to six.
NC State will return to action Saturday afternoon to take on Wake Forest for the second game of the three-game series. First pitch is slated for 4 pm.
“This is a pivotal time of the year for every team in the country,” Avent said. “I think our team is in a good place right now, but we obviously have to get better because this league is so unforgiving. Every night is a challenge.”