Raleigh Regional No. 1 seed NC State (35-20) and No. 4 seed and Patriot League champion Navy (42-14-1) squared off at Doak Field at Dail Park Friday evening. Though play was interrupted halfway through, the Wolfpack secured the win, 13-8.
“I don’t think you’d expect a 13-8 game, and you certainly don’t expect to get out of here at 2 am in the morning,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “That’s what it takes in this time of year, and we’ve talked about it. What you have to do is figure out a way to preserve and keep your focus.”
Every player in State’s batting order contributed at least one hit. Evan Mendoza, Brock Deatherage, and Andrew Knizner each had three hits. Knizner, Preston Palmeiro, Brett Kinneman, Josh McLain, and Chance Shepard each had home runs versus the Midshipmen.
Brian Brown started on the mound for State and shut out Navy’s offense in 4-1/3 innings of work. He gave up four hits, two walks, and hit two batters while recording one strikeout. Austin Staley (3-1, 3.28 ERA) took over and finished the top of the fifth inning by forcing a double play.
After the delay that lasted just over three hours, he continued to hurl until he was relieved by Chris Williams. Staley, picking up his third win of the season, finished with two innings of work and held Navy to two runs, one earned, on a hit and a walk while dealing a strikeout.
Williams pitched 1/3 inning and left with the bases loaded. He was credited with three runs after giving up three hits and one walk. Evan Brabrand succeeded Williams and lasted 1/3 inning before getting replaced by Travis Orwig. Brabrand surrendered two runs, walked two and struck out one while hold the Midshipmen to a hit.
Orwig hurled the final two innings, only surrendering a single run in the outing. He gave up one hit and one walk while striking out four to seal State’s win.
The Pack kicked off its scoring in the bottom of the fourth. Deatherage led off with a double and scored on an RBI single by Knizner.
State padded its lead in the fifth with seven runs on four home runs. Stephen Pitarra started the frame off with a bloop double that fell in the left-center field grass. After Pitarra moved to third on a groundout by Mendoza, Palmeiro launched his ninth long-ball of the season out of the park to bring the score to 3-0.
Joe Dunand followed with a walk. Two batters later, Knizner went yard for his fifth homer of 2016 to bring the score to 5-0 in favor of the Wolfpack. Play was suspended shortly after the two-run home run.
“We kept putting good at-bats together,” Knizner said. “We made Navy work and didn’t give them any easy outs.”
Kinneman was first to bat following the delay and launched a home run of his own, his sixth of the year. Shepard walked after Kinneman’s bomb and scored on a McLain bomb, his fourth of the season.
“When we came back from the delay, I thought we had our best at-bats of the night,” Avent said. “Navy scored some runs on our bullpen, and our guys kept responding offensively.”
The Midshipmen battled back with five runs in the top of the seventh, but the Pack added five runs of its own in the home half of the inning. Deatherage and Knizner started the frame off with back-to-back infield single. Kinneman walked to load the bases. Shepard zoned in on the first pitch he saw and drilled it out of the park for a grand slam, his 14th home run of the year.
Two batters later, Pitarra walked. Mendoza followed with a single into right-center. Following a Palmeiro fly-out, Dunand singled to plate Pitarra, ending the Pack’s scoring for the game.
NC State will return to action Saturday evening as the team takes on No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina. First pitch is slated for 7 pm.