RALEIGH, N.C. — NC State (19-13, 12-12 ACC) faced an imposing force in No. 15 Virginia Tech (21-15, 15-12 ACC), the Coastal Division front runner heading into the weekend. The Wolfpack utilized its potent offense to sweep the Hokies at Doak Field to reach the .500 mark in conference play.
Game 1: NC State 3, Virginia Tech 1
Freshman right-handed pitcher Sam Highfill (4-2, 3.91 ERA) stepped to the challenge presented to him in Friday’s series opener and aided the Wolfpack to victory, 3-1.
The Apex, N.C. native held the Hokies scoreless in his 6-2/3 innings of work, hurling six strikeouts while only allowing four hits and two walks. After 109 pitches thrown, Highfill left the game with junior left-hander Evan Justice finishing the game. Despite yielding one run, Justice earned his third save of the season in 2-1/3 innings.
Virginia Tech starter Peyton Alford (1-3, 4.80 ERA) pitched three perfect innings, but junior first baseman Austin Murr pummeled his 2-2 pitch to lead off the fourth inning with his sixth home run of the season. One inning later, the Wolfpack tacked on another run. Sophomore third baseman Vojtech Mensik led off with double. Junior designated hitter Terrell Tatum followed with a bunt single to move Mensik to third. Junior second baseman J.T. Jarrett then bunted the Brno, Czech Republic native home.
State’s final run of the game came in the sixth inning. Junior left fielder Jonny Butler got beaned on the first pitch he saw. Three batters later, he moved to second on a wild pitch before scoring on a Virginia Tech error.
Game 2: NC State 11, Virginia Tech 3
After the game moved from Saturday due to persistent rain in the area, the Wolfpack clinched the series with a dominant win Sunday afternoon, 11-3.
NC State held its annual #StrikeOutALS Game where it honored the memory of former Wolfpack baseball player Chris Combs who passed away from ALS on Sept. 3, 2020.
Junior right-hander Reid Johnston (4-2, 3.77 ERA) picked up the win after holding the Hokies to one run in six innings of work. The Enfield, N.C. product retired the last 15 batters he faced consecutively and only gave up one hit and one walk with five strikeouts.
Freshman southpaw Chris Villaman surrendered two runs while recording two outs before redshirt junior righty Dalton Feeney relived him. The Bismark, N.D. hurler struck out five batters and walked three with one hit allowed to secure the win for the Pack.
State’s offense jumped into gear early with three runs scored in the first inning. Murr led off with a walk. Sophomore center fielder Tyler McDonough followed with a double before sophomore catcher Luca Tresh walked to load the bases. After a strikeout, freshman shortstop Jose Torres grounded out to his Hokie counterpart to drive Murr home. Tatum then dropped a two-run single into left field.
After Tech pushed a run home in the top of the second inning, State added three runs in the bottom half. Jarrett reached base on a one-out walk. Two batters later, McDonough singled to move Jarrett to third. Tresh, once again, then walked to load the bases. Butler plated Jarrett and McDonough with a single through the right side before Torres singled to drive Tresh home.
The Wolfpack scored two more runs in the third inning. Junior right fielder Devonte Brown drew a one-out walk then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jarrett. Murr drove Brown home on a single to left. After moving to second on a Hokie error, Murr scored on a McDonough double. In the next inning, Butler homered to extend the State lead to eight.
After a quiet fifth inning, the Pack tacked on another run in the sixth. Butler notched an infield single to lead off. Two batters later, freshman pinch-hitter DeAngelo Giles singled with Butler moving to second. After a strikeout, Brown reaches on an infield single of his own. With the Hokies preoccupied trying to catch freshman pinch-runner Carson Falsken napping at second on the play, Butler raced home.
The Hokies managed to score two runs in the top of the seventh inning. Butler answered in the bottom of the eighth inning with his second home run of the game.
Game 3: NC State 7, Virginia Tech 6
Both teams came back after the Pack’s series-clinching win and fought tooth and nail in the weekend finale. However, State secured the sweep with the hard-fought victory Sunday evening, 7-6.
McDonough and Torres catalyzed the Wolfpack offense in the third game of the series. McDonough pounded two home runs with a 2-for-4 showing at the plate, extending his reached-base streak to 49 games. Torres went 4-for-4 at the dish with three doubles, a triple, two runs batted in, and three runs scored.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Matt Willadsen got the call to start the game but surrendered five runs on nine hits in six innings. Though he finished with six strikeouts and no walks, he left the game with State down one run. Justice (3-2, 5.46 ERA) completed the game and got the win after the Pack’s three-run, seventh-inning rally. Justice allowed a ninth-inning solo shot but otherwise held the Tech offense in check, tallying two strikeouts in his three-inning tenure.
After the Hokies took a two-run lead in the top of the second inning, the Wolfpack started what would become a four-inning run streak in the bottom of the second. Torres led off with a triple to right field. Brown followed with a ground-rule double into the Wolfpack bullpen to bring the freshman home. State’s third-inning run came off McDonough’s bat as the Liberty Township, Ohio native worked a 13-pitch at-bat before crushing the solo shot over the wall in center field.
In the fourth inning, Torres led off with a double. Two batters later, Mensik singled to move Torres to third. Jarrett followed with a single to bring the freshman shortstop home. McDonough struck again in the fifth in considerably fewer pitches, drilling the 0-1 pitch over the left-field wall.
With Virginia Tech leading, 5-4, going into the seventh-inning stretch, NC State pushed three runs home to take the lead for good. McDonough led off by drawing a walk. Tresh followed by singling. Two batters later, Torres doubled the two runners home, moving to third on the throw to try and stop Tresh from scoring. The gutsy move to take third paid off for the Baltimore product as Brown flew out to center in the next at-bat, allowing Torres to score the final insurance run.
The Wolfpack returns to action Tuesday as the team travels to Boone, N.C. for a rematch with Appalachian State. First pitch from Smith Stadium is set for 5 p.m.