After getting swept on the road in Louisville, No. 13 NC State (33-17, 14-12 ACC) opened its series against rival UNC (33-20, 12-16 ACC) with a win Thursday evening at Doak Field at Dail Park, 6-4.
The Wolfpack had lost six of its last seven games entering Thursday contest against the Tar Heels. State was also one of only five teams in the ACC with a winning record in conference play.
Joe Dunand, Stephen Pitarra, Preston Palmeiro, and Brock Deatherage each had two hits apiece to catalyze the Pack’s offense. Dunand had two doubles, a run scored, and an RBI while Pitarra crossed the plate twice, added a double, and drove in a run. Palmeiro drove one in and scored once, and Deatherage had a double and one RBI.
In a contest where the Pack utilized seven pitchers, Cody Beckman (2-0, 6.92 ERA) earned the win after shutting down UNC on 1-1/3 innings’ work, striking out three batters in the process. Will Gilbert earned his fifth save of the season after giving up two hits in the ninth inning.
Cory Wilder started for State but was quickly chased off the mound after only 2/3 inning. He gave up a run on one hit, one walk, and two hit batters. Chris Williams followed with an inning of work, giving up another run on two hits and a hit batter. Williams also struck out one UNC batter.
Travis Orwig hurled 2-2/3 innings of work, striking out six batters and walking one while only surrendering a hit. Austin Staley contributed 1-1/3 innings on the mound, only giving up a single hit while striking out two.
After Beckman’s performance, Evan Brabrand and Gilbert were called upon to finish the rest of the way. Brabrand was credited with the two Heels runs scored in the ninth. He finished with two strikeouts and a walk while allowing one batter to record a hit before Gilbert sealed the game.
After the Heels plated runs in the first and second, State broke its dry spell with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Pitarra got the rally started with a one-out double. After advancing to third on a groundout, he scored on a single by Palmeiro. Dunand doubled in the next at-bat. Palmeiro scored on Dunand’s double thanks to a UNC fielding error. Deatherage drove Dunand home with a double to give the Pack the 3-2 lead.
State padded its lead one inning later with three more runs. Brett Kinneman led off the inning with a walk. Chance Shepard singled to put runners on the corners. After a Josh McLain sacrifice bunt to move Shepard to second, Pitarra singled to plate Kinneman. Evan Mendoza, whose 23-game hit streak came to an end Thursday evening, plated Shepard with a sacrifice fly. Palmeiro singled to bring Dunand to bat, and Dunand responded with an RBI double into left to score Pitarra.
The Pack and the Heels will return to action Friday evening for the second game of their three-game series. First pitch is slated for 6:30 pm.