The Wolfpack surrendered four runs in the decisive eighth inning in Sunday’s contest against Austin Peay.
RALEIGH, N.C. — No. 6 NC State (4-2) saw its three-game winning streak come to an end Sunday afternoon as the Wolfpack dropped its final game against Austin Peay (4-3) at Doak Field, 7-3.
“Today’s game was a carbon copy of the last two except the score was reversed,” head coach Elliott Avent. “We played three complete games all weekend. Getting beat is disappointing especially after tying it up, so we have to get better. There’s obviously room for improvement, and we better do it fast because this league doesn’t forgive you often.”
Junior shortstop Joe Dunand knocked his second home run of the season with his only hit of the game. He finished the game 1-for-3 at the plate. Junior third baseman Evan Mendoza added two RBI to State’s cause, ending the contest with a 1-for-4 mark.
“It was a good game until the end,” Dunand said. “It’s a tough loss, but we’ll be back.”
Despite only pitching 1/3 of an inning, freshman pitcher Michael Bienlien (0-1, 9.00 ERA) picked up the loss for State. He surrendered a leadoff walk in the eighth before recording an out via sacrifice bunt. Freshman left-hander Kent Klyman relieved him to retire one batter before giving way to redshirt senior righty Johnny Piedmonte who allowed an infield single and a walk to load the bases.
Piedmonte plated Bienlien’s inherited run with a wild pitch before giving up a three-run home run to Austin Peay’s Landon Kelly to seal the Governors’ win.
Before the trio of pitchers that entered in the eighth inning, junior Tommy DeJuneas, senior Joe O’Donnell, and redshirt sophomore Austin Staley manned the mound for the Wolfpack. DeJuneas started the game and gave up two runs in two innings of work, striking out three Austin Peay batters while walking two.
“Tommy had a good fastball and had better command than he had in Hawaii, but it seemed he didn’t have that third pitch to get them out,” Avent said. “His slider wasn’t that effective today, so that’s why I went to the bullpen early.
O’Donnell and Staley combined to throw the next five innings, combining to strike out five Governor batters with only O’Donnell exiting with a run on his record.
After Austin Peay led off the scoring with two runs in the second, Mendoza seized his opportunity to tie the game in the third. After a leadoff walk from junior designated hitter Stephen Pitarra, freshman second baseman Will Wilson doubled three batters later. Following an intentional walk to sophomore left fielder Brett Kinneman, Mendoza singled into right field to plate Pitarra and Wilson.
“I got down in the count, and I was trying to fight something off,” Mendoza said. “Fighting and shooting [the ball] to the right side is what I do.”
The Governors would break the tie in the fifth with a home run from Chase Hamilton, but Dunand would retie the game in the seventh by launching the first pitch he saw in the at-bat over the wall in left field. Despite the Miami native hitting his 13th collegiate home run, the solo shot would be the Pack’s last run of the game.
“Day by day, I’m working on things to get back into the groove of hitting and seeing pitches,” Dunand said. “I feel good right now.”
The Wolfpack will travel to Greensboro on Tuesday to take on the UNCG Spartans before returning home Wednesday against Charlotte. Tuesday’s game is set to start at 4 pm with Wednesday’s game set for 3 pm.
“It’s early on in the year, so we’re not worried too much,” Mendoza said. “We know we’re a good ball club, and we’re excited that we’re going to get better.”