For the first time since 2004, the Wolfpack leaves Boshamer Stadium with a road series win over North Carolina.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — No. 14 NC State (41-15, 18-12 ACC) dropped its series opener Thursday against No. 15 North Carolina (38-17, 17-13 ACC), but the Wolfpack pummeled the Tar Heels in Friday’s and Saturday’s games to win the series in Chapel Hill.
The Pack’s wins brought the team’s regular-season win total to its highest since 2013. Additionally, this marks the first time since 2004 that NC State won a road series against the Heels.
THURSDAY: North Carolina 5, NC State 3
After taking the lead in the third inning, the Wolfpack saw its advantage slip away as the Tar Heels rallied to win the series opener at Boshamer Stadium Thursday evening, 5-3.
Junior right-handed pitcher Jason Parker started the game on the mound, giving up two runs on four hits and four walks while striking out five batters in his 4-2/3 innings. Sophomore left-hander Nick Swiney (7-1, 5.40 ERA) hurled the next three innings, surrendering three Carolina runs to pick up his first of two pitching decisions over the weekend with this one obviously a loss. Junior righty Andrew Blake recorded the final out for State’s pitching.
The Tar Heels jumped ahead with two runs in the bottom of the first inning before the Wolfpack scored its only runs of the game in the top of the third. Junior shortstop Will Wilson reached base with a two-out single. Senior first baseman Evan Edwards followed suit with a base hit of his own. Sophomore catcher Patrick Bailey then singled to drive Wilson home.
Freshman center fielder Tyler McDonough continued the string of hits with an RBI single to center field that plated Edwards. Junior designated hitter Brad Debo then reached on a Carolina error that allowed Bailey to cross the plate.
FRIDAY: NC State 11, North Carolina 2
The morning after the Wolfpack’s loss to the Tar Heels, longtime NC State Sports Information Director Bruce Winkworth had passed away. With Winkworth’s memory in the hearts and minds of the team, the Pack won an emotionally charged game in a commanding fashion Friday evening, 11-2.
Sophomore right-hander Reid Johnston (6-1, 3.80 ERA) picked up the win after allowing just one run in 5-1/3 innings, giving up eight hits and a walk in the process. Sophomore southpaw Evan Justice pitched the next 2-1/3 frames, surrendering one run on two hits and striking out two batters. Freshman right-hander Baker Nelson finished the final 1-1/3 innings with three strikeouts and one walk.
Wasting no time, the NC State offense put three runs on the board in the top of the first inning. Sophomore left fielder Jonny Butler and Wilson both reached on back-to-back singles to lead off the game. Three batters later, McDonough singled and moved to second on a Carolina error with both Butler and Wilson crossing the plate. Debo followed with an RBI single to drive McDonough home.
Three more runs came across in the fourth for the Wolfpack. Sophomore second baseman J.T. Jarrett reached base on a one-out single. Butler followed with a base hit of his own. Wilson then doubled both runners home before Edwards drove Wilson home with a single.
Redshirt junior third baseman Dillon Cooper scored the Pack’s only fifth-inning run after drawing a two-out walk and crossing the plate on a Jarrett double. In the next inning, three more Wolfpack runs came in. Wilson led off with his 16th home run of the season. After a walk to Edwards, Bailey reached on a fielder’s choice, essentially replacing Edwards on the base paths. McDonough followed with his fifth four-bagger of the year.
The final NC State run came in the next inning. After two quick outs to start the seventh, Butler, Wilson, and Edwards loaded the bases with a single, beanball, and walk respectively. Butler then scored in the subsequent at-bat on a wild pitch.
SATURDAY: NC State 11, North Carolina 0
The Wolfpack capped off the three-game series with a high-powered offense and shutout pitching as NC State took the series with the Saturday victory, 11-0.
Sophomore southpaw David Harrison pitched the first two innings, only allowing a hit and a walk before redshirt freshman right-hander Cameron Cotter pitched the next 2-1/3 innings, giving up just three hits and a walk. Swiney picked up the win after relieving Cotter for 2-2/3 innings. Redshirt sophomore righty Dalton Feeney and junior lefty Kent Klyman each threw an inning of work to complete the shutout.
NC State pushed two runs across to start the game. Wilson reached base on a one-out walk, and Bailey followed with a single. Edwards then doubled to left field, driving Wilson home. McDonough followed with a groundout that allowed Bailey to score.
Two innings later, the Pack broke the game wide open with five runs in the top of the third. Butler reached base on an error to start off. Wilson then singled to bring Bailey to bat. Bailey then doubled both runners home. Edwards singled afterward, allowing Bailey to cross home plate.
After a pitching change, McDonough reached base on a fielder’s choice during which an error allowed Edwards to score safely. Two batters later, sophomore right fielder Devonte Brown walked. After the free pass to Brown, Jarrett singled to plate McDonough. However, Brown was thrown out at home on a Cooper squeeze bunt attempt in the next at-bat.
State was held in check for the next three innings before scoring four more runs in the seventh. Edwards led off with a single. After moving to second and third on a groundout and an error that allowed Debo to reach base, Edwards scored on a single by Brown. Jarrett then drove in Debo’s pinch-runner, sophomore outfielder Terrell Tatum, on a sacrifice squeeze bunt. Cooper followed with an RBI single that plated Brown. After moving to second on a wild pitch, Cooper scored on an RBI single by Butler.
The Wolfpack will enter the 2019 ACC Baseball Championship Tournament as the No. 3-seed and will take on No. 6-seed Florida State and No. 10-seed Wake Forest next week at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.