NC State knocks off Wake Forest in the Wolfpack’s final regular season home game.
After a pair of bases-loaded walks decided Saturday’s contest between NC State (39-12, 18-9 ACC) and Wake Forest (22-29, 11-16 ACC), the Wolfpack made Sunday’s game less ambiguous as State powered past the Demon Deacons, 10-6.
Sophomore shortstop Will Wilson led the way with a 3-for-5 performance at the plate with a double, one run batted in, and one run scored. Senior center fielder Josh McLain went 1-for-3 with a triple, a stolen base, three RBI, and two runs scored while senior third baseman Stephen Pitarra was 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI, and a run.
Freshman left-handed pitcher Evan Justice got the start on the mound, but he left after just 1-2/3 innings where he gave up two runs on four hits. Sophomore right-hander Mathieu Gauthier added 1/3 inning but was relieved after giving up two more Wake Forest runs on two hits.
Sophomore righty Michael Bienlien settled the game down with three innings of work. The Chesapeake, Va. native surrendered one run on four hits while striking out three Deacon batters before Connor Centala (1-0, 2.84 ERA) came in to pitch a clean inning to pick up the win.
The Wolfpack then turned to sophomore southpaw Kent Klyman who pitched three innings of nearly flawless baseball to pick up his fourth save of the season. He only allowed one hit, a solo home run in the ninth, while striking out four batters.
State jumped on the board early with two runs in the first. Pitarra led off with a double, and McLain followed him by getting beaned. Wilson flew out to move Pitarra to third base. After McLain stole second base, junior left fielder Brett Kinneman put the Pack ahead with a two-run double.
After the Demon Deacons tied the game in the top of the second, State pushed another run across in the home half of the inning. Junior first baseman Evan Edwards led off with a walk. After moving to second on a groundout, Edwards scored on a Pitarra double.
Wake Forest managed to take the lead in the top of the third, capped off with a two-run home run by Demon Deacon freshman third baseman Cole McNamee. NC State cut the deficit in the bottom of the third with one run scored. Wilson led off with a double, moved to third on a groundout by freshman catcher Patrick Bailey, and then scored on a Kinneman groundout.
The Deacons held the Pack in check until the NC State offense broke through with three runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Freshman pinch-hitter Devonte Brown drew a one-out walk followed by a single by freshman second baseman J.T. Jarrett. Pitarra bunted the two runners to second and third before McLain tripled Brown and Jarrett home. Wilson singled shortly after to allow McLain to cross the plate.
Two more runs came across for the Wolfpack in the bottom of the seventh. Edwards reached on a one-out bunt single followed by a Brown walk. Edwards and Brown successfully executed a double steal to move up to second and third. Jarrett drove Edwards home on a squeeze bunt before Brown came home on a sacrifice fly by McLain.
The final State insurance run came in the bottom of the eighth. Bailey drew a leadoff walk and managed to reach third base on back-to-back wild pitches in the next at-bat. Three batters after Bailey’s free pass, McLain hit a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in the Pack’s last run of the game.
The Wolfpack will travel to Tallahassee to wrap up its regular season against Florida State. Game one will start Thursday at 6 p.m.