The Wolfpack capitalizes for five home runs as NC State wins amidst unfavorable weather against Air Force

NC State (8-1) continued its hot trend with a commanding win over Air Force (1-6) Tuesday afternoon at Doak Field, 15-5.

In spite of the rainy conditions in Raleigh, junior left fielder Brett Kinneman tore apart the Falcons’ pitching with a 4-for-6 performance at the plate with two home runs, a triple, two runs scored, and six runs batted in.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Mathieu Gauthier got the call to start and pitched three innings of work. The Candiac, Quebec native surrendered two runs on four hits and struck out four during his tenure.

Freshman left-hander Nick Swiney relieved him and pitched three shutout innings of one-hit ball. The Huntersville, N.C. southpaw struck out eight of the 11 batters he faced before sophomore righty Michael Bienlien (1-0, 0.00 ERA) took over.

Bienlien surrendered three unearned run in his lone inning on the mound. Freshman lefty Evan Justice took over after the Pack’s lengthy seventh-inning onslaught and finished the game with four strikeouts and only one hit allowed in his two frames of work.

Despite what the final score indicated, the Wolfpack found itself behind early. The Falcons plated runs in the first and third innings before freshman catcher Patrick Bailey drilled his first collegiate home run over the wall in right field for the Wolfpack’s first run of the game. State tied the game at two apiece two innings later.

Sophomore shortstop Will Wilson led off the sixth with a double to right-center. Freshman second baseman J.T. Jarrett reached on a fielder’s choice that resulted in Wilson advancing to third safely on the Falcons’ throw to the bag. During the next at-bat, a balk sent Wilson home to tie the score.

Air Force pushed three runs across in the top of the seventh to retake the lead, but the Wolfpack responded with eight runs after the seventh-inning stretch. Bailey reached on a one-out single before redshirt sophomore third baseman Dillon Cooper walked. Wilson drew a full count before drilling a three-run shot over the wall in left-center to tie the game yet again.

Jarrett followed Wilson’s homer with a line-drive single into center. After senior center fielder Josh McLain drew a walk, Kinneman destroyed a 3-1 pitch over the scoreboard to give the Pack the three-run lead.

After batting around in the seventh, the Pack continued its assault on the Falcons’ pitching with five more runs in the eighth. Wilson led off with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. McLain followed Wilson’s trend with an infield single of his own. Kinneman stepped to the plate and pounded the first pitch he saw over the wall in right for another three-run homer. The eighth-inning four-bagger was the York, Pa. native’s seventh of the season.

Two batters later, junior designated hitter Evan Edwards drew a walk. Following freshman outfielder Terrell Tatum entering the game to pinch-run for Edwards, senior first baseman Shane Shepard crushed his second home run of the year over the wall in right.

The Wolfpack will return to action Friday afternoon as NC State hosts Bowling Green. First pitch from Doak Field is set for 3 p.m.

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