The Wolfpack falls to Army West Point to start the 2018 NCAA Baseball Tournament.
NC State (40-17) looked to start the Raleigh Regional on the right foot as the regional host. However, the Wolfpack couldn’t get its offense to click as Army (37-22) took the win Friday evening at Doak Field, 5-1.
“That was a tough a game,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “When guys go out and pitch like Army pitched and you thought you had some chances and hit some balls hard but don’t have much to show for it, you kept thinking you’re going to get back in the game. But I want to congratulate Army. I thought they played outstanding.”
Freshman right-handed pitcher Reid Johnston (7-1, 3.06 ERA) took the loss, his first in an NC State uniform, after giving up two runs, one earned, in 4-1/3 innings. Johnston managed to strike out four Black Knight batters while giving up two hits and two walks.
Redshirt freshman left-hander Connor Centala gave up two runs in his inning of work after relieving Johnston. Redshirt junior righty Nolan Clenney, freshman southpaw David Harrison, and sophomore righty Mathieu Gauthier combined to finish the game with the Black Knights adding another run off Harrison.
Army scored the game’s first run in the third on a routine groundout that featured Black Knight sophomore center fielder and NCAA stolen base leader Jacob Hurtubise, who started running from second on the pitch, racing around to score. The next Army run came one inning later as the Knights scored after a walk and a two-base error on a pickoff attempt set the team up for a sacrifice fly.
Two runs came in to score for Army in the top of the sixth. After a leadoff single, a fielder’s choice, and another single, Black Knight freshman pinch-hitter Rob Regine brought one run in with an RBI double. Army sophomore right fielder Drake Titus followed with a sacrifice fly.
Hurtubise scored again in the seventh for Army’s final run of the game. After drawing a leadoff walk, Hurtubise stole second and reached third on a wild pitch before scoring on a single by Black Knight freshman first baseman Anthony Giachin.
After getting held off the scoreboard for the first six innings, the Pack finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh. Junior first baseman Evan Edwards reached base on a one-out double before back-to-back walks to junior designated hitter Jack Conley and senior third baseman Stephen Pitarra loaded the bases. Senior pinch-hitter Shane Shepard followed with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Edwards. However, that was the only dent the Wolfpack managed to put on the Army lead.
The Wolfpack drops to the loser’s bracket of the Raleigh Regional and next faces Northeastern with elimination on the line. First pitch on Saturday is set for 2 p.m.
“We’re [still] a great ball club,” Edwards said. “We’ve worked hard. We just have to come out tomorrow and play our game.”