The Wolfpack pushes four runs across in the ninth inning to overcome the Demon Deacons, clinching a bid into the ACC Baseball Championship Tournament Semifinals.
DURHAM, N.C. — Third-seeded NC State (42-15) gave up early runs to 10th-seeded Wake Forest (31-26), but the Wolfpack strung a four-run rally together in the ninth inning to propel the team to the win Thursday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, 6-5.
With the win, the Pack clinched a berth into the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship Tournament semifinal matchup Saturday evening at 5 p.m. against the winner of tomorrow’s game between Duke and Georgia Tech. This will mark NC State’s first semifinal appearance since the conference changed the tournament format back in 2017.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Reid Johnston got the call to start on the mound but was lifted after giving up four runs, two earned, on four hits and a walk in 2-2/3 innings. Sophomore left-hander Nick Swiney followed with 3-2/3 innings of no-hit baseball, striking out eight Demon Deacons yet walking four. Swiney was charged with a run after getting lifted in favor of redshirt sophomore righty Dalton Feeney who gave up a base hit before junior southpaw Kent Klyman entered to pitch the next 1-1/3 innings. Klyman struck out two batters and allowed a hit and two walks, one of which allowed Swiney’s designated runner to score.
Freshman right-hander Baker Nelson (2-0, 3.53 ERA) finished the eighth inning to pick up the win. After sophomore southpaw Evan Justice allowed a leadoff double in the ninth inning, redshirt freshman righty Cameron Cotter shut the door on the next three Wake batters to record his third save of the season.
Playing as the visiting team, the Pack scored its first runs in the top of the seventh inning, already down by four runs. Junior shortstop Will Wilson and sophomore catcher Patrick Bailey reached on back-to-back Demon Deacon errors. Senior first baseman Evan Edwards then walked to load the bases. Freshman center fielder Tyler McDonough then grounded into a double play that allowed Wilson to score. Junior designated hitter Brad Debo followed by drilling a 3-0 pitch to right-center for an RBI double that plated Bailey.
With the Deacs’ offense getting another run back in the bottom of the seventh, the NC State offense took the lead in the top of the ninth with four runs. Wilson led off by dropping a triple inside the right-field line just out of the reach of Wake’s outfielder. Bailey then walked. Two batters later, McDonough drew a bases-loading walk.
Debo then drove Wilson and Bailey home with a single to right-center before getting replaced on the base paths by sophomore left-handed pitcher David Harrison. After a wild pitch that moved Harrison to second and a strikeout, sophomore right fielder Terrell Tatum legged out an infield single that allowed McDonough and Harrison to score.
The Wolfpack returns to action Friday evening as NC State concludes pool play against Florida State. First pitch from the DBAP is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Photo by Liz Condo, Atlantic Coast Conference