Fifth-seeded NC State (34-19) entered Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament pool play with hopes of returning to the championship game on Sunday after winning its pool in 2015.
The Wolfpack finds itself with a harder battle following a loss to fourth-seeded Florida State (35-19) Wednesday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, 7-3.
“I thought we played pretty good today,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “Obviously, we didn’t play perfect, so there are always things you can work on.”
Cory Wilder threw five innings of work for NC State. He gave up two runs on three hits while walking four and striking out four. Austin Staley relieved Wilder and surrendered a run on one hit in 1/3 inning of work.
“I thought Cory was outstanding,” Avent said. “I thought he gave us a chance to win, and it was 3-1, it felt like we could have needed a couple more runs, which you need against a team like Florida State.”
Will Gilbert (3-1, 2.53 ERA) followed Staley and was credited with three runs on three hits and a walk, picking up the loss despite striking out four Seminole batters. Tommy DeJuneas pitched an inning of work and gave up a run on one hit and one walk as well as a strikeout.
After FSU struck first in the bottom of the first inning, the Pack tied the game in the top of the second. Joe Dunand led off the frame with a single but was replaced on the base paths by Brock Deatherage who bunted into a fielder’s choice. Andrew Knizner followed with a single with Deatherage advancing to third on the play. Brett Kinneman struck out on a full count pitch, but Knizner broke for second on the payoff pitch. Knizner’s baiting of the catcher allowed Deatherage to take off for the plate, giving the Wolfpack its first steal of home plate since Trea Turner achieved the feat against Coastal Carolina on May 3, 2014.
The Pack took the lead in the third inning with one run crossing the plate in the frame. Josh McLain started with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Stephen Pitarra. Evan Mendoza drove McLain in with a groundout to short.
State added another run in the top of the fourth. Dunand and Deatherage started the inning with a walk and a bunt single respectively. Knizner bunted to move both runners into scoring position. Kinneman plated Dunand with a fielder’s choice to first base, concluding the Pack’s scoring for the game.
The Wolfpack will return to action Thursday evening at 7 pm as the team faces top-seeded Miami.
“We are going to prepare just like we prepared for this game,” Knizner said. “We’re going to go out there and play good baseball, and hopefully we’re going to come away with two victories.”