Pack Stumbles Against Niners

The Wolfpack drops its first midweek matchup following a seventh-inning rally from Charlotte.

Daniel Wilson

No. 6 NC State (5-3) fell in its second straight home game Wednesday afternoon as visiting Charlotte (7-2) edged the Wolfpack at Doak Field, 6-5.

“I thought [Charlotte] played extremely well,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “I think that’s a good Charlotte team, maybe the best Charlotte team [49ers’ head coach Loren Hibbs] has had.”

Freshman catcher Brad Debo provided State’s only multi-hit game, finishing 2-for-4 at the plate with two doubles, two runs batted in, and a run scored. Freshman second baseman Will Wilson added a two-RBI performance, finishing the day 1-for-3 at the dish.

“We lost, and we have to get better,” Debo said. “We’re playing well as a team, but we have to keep getting better. [Charlotte is] a good team, so there’s nothing we can do. We just have to practice tomorrow and come out ready to play this weekend.”

The Pack turned to freshman right-hander Mathieu Gauthier as the game’s starting pitcher. The Candiac, Quebec native struck out five 49ers in 4-2/3 innings while only surrendering two runs, one earned, on four hits and a walk.

Junior righty Zach Usselman (0-1, 11.25 ERA) picked up where Gauthier left off and surrendered four runs in two innings, picking up the loss against Charlotte. Freshman right-hander Michael Bienlien finished the rest of the way on the mound for State, only giving up three hits in 2-1/3 shutout innings.

The Pack started the scoring early with two runs in the first. Junior right fielder Brock Deatherage reached base by way of a beanball before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior center fielder Josh McLain and to third on a stolen base. Wilson plated him with a sacrifice fly to center field. Sophomore left fielder Brett Kinneman followed with a two-out single and scored on an RBI double by junior third baseman Evan Mendoza.

After surrendering a run in the second, State benefitted from lackluster Charlotte pitching to plate another run in the home half of the frame. After a first-pitch groundout to start the inning, Debo doubled off the wall in left-center field. Sophomore designated hitter Jack Conley followed with a walk.

Following a Deatherage strikeout, McLain and Wilson drew back-to-back four-pitch walks with Debo scoring on Wilson’s free pass. Unfortunately for the Pack offense, the bases would be left stranded following a Kinneman groundout.

Charlotte would take the lead in the top of the sixth with a two-run home run off the bat of Zach Jarrett. However, the Pack would quickly regain the advantage in the home half. Junior shortstop Joe Dunand led off with a single, advancing to second on a throwing error. Junior first baseman Shane Shepard followed by drawing a full-count walk.

After a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, Debo drove them in with a double into right-center. Debo’s two-run two-bagger would be the Pack’s last runs as the 49ers would regain the lead in the top of the seventh with a two-run double by Zack Smith.

The Wolfpack will return to action for the USA Baseball Irish Classic, beginning with Friday’s matchup at home against Rhode Island. First pitch is set for 3 pm.

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