Patrick Bailey’s go-ahead home run in the top of the 10th inning propels the Wolfpack past NC Central.
After falling behind early to NC Central (5-8) by a score of 8-1, No. 5 NC State (12-0) rallied for an extra-inning road victory over the Eagles at the Durham Athletic Park Wednesday evening, 11-10.
Sophomore designated hitter Patrick Bailey continued his late-inning heroics for the Wolfpack with his solo home run in the top of the 10th inning. With the win, State is officially off to its best start in school history, matching the same mark made by the Pack in 1992.
Starting on the mound for the Wolfpack, junior right-handed pitcher Alec Barger got chased by the Eagles after giving up two runs on two hits and three walks. Freshman right-hander Baker Nelson succeeded Barger and pitched the next 1-1/3 innings.
Sophomore southpaw Nick Swiney followed Nelson’s tenure with seven strikeouts, but the Huntersville, N.C. product gave up four NC Central runs in his three innings of work. After an inning from junior righty Michael Bienlien, sophomore lefty Evan Justice shut down the Eagle offense by retiring all six batters he faced with four strikeouts.
Redshirt sophomore right-hander Dalton Feeney was called upon to shut the door on Central, but he gave up two runs, one earned, without recording an out. Junior southpaw Kent Klyman (4-0, 2.70 ERA) finished the game to pick up the win, only allowing three hits in his two innings on the mound.
After the Eagles already powered ahead 4-0, the Wolfpack brought its first run in to score in the top of the third inning. Sophomore right fielder Terrell Tatum led off with a walk. Sophomore second baseman David Vazquez followed with a single for his first hit of the season. Two batters later, junior shortstop Will Wilson plated Tatum with an RBI single. State managed to load the bases later in the inning, but a strikeout left the three runners stranded.
The Pack gave up four runs in the fifth, but the State offense began its rally with two runs in the sixth inning. Junior catcher Brad Debo reached on a one-out double. Freshman third baseman Vojtech Mensik followed with a bunt single, advancing Debo to third. Two batters later, Vazquez doubled Debo and Mensik home.
The rally continued with two more runs in the top of the seventh inning for the Wolfpack. Senior first baseman Evan Edwards reached on a one-out single then advanced to second on a passed ball. Bailey then walked. Freshman center fielder Tyler McDonough singled to load the bases. Debo drove Edwards home on an RBI fielder’s choice, avoiding what would have been an inning-ending double play. Mensik then got hit by a pitch to load the bases again. Sophomore right fielder Devonte Brown, who’d already pinch-hit for Tatum, then reached on an infield single to bring Bailey home.
NC State managed to tie the game in the top of the eighth with three runs in the inning. Sophomore left fielder Jonny Butler led off with a walk. Wilson drove Butler home with a double. Edwards followed with an RBI single, bringing Wilson home. After a stolen base by Edwards, Bailey grounded out to move Edwards to third. McDonough then flew out to center, allowing Edwards to score on the sacrifice fly.
The Pack took the lead in the top of the ninth inning. Brown walked with one away in the frame. After a fly-out, Brown stole second and moved to third on a throwing error by the NC Central catcher. Butler then walked to bring Wilson to the plate. The Kings Mountain, N.C. came through with a two-run double, plating Brown and Butler.
Following a two-run inning from the Eagles in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, Bailey led off the top of the tenth with his second homer of the year, topping off the game’s scoring.
The Wolfpack will begin conference play this weekend as NC State hosts Pittsburgh for a three-game series. First pitch from Doak Field on Friday is set for 3 p.m.
Photo by Rob McLamb