While the 2020 NC State baseball season was unfortunately cut short, there were still plenty of exciting moments. From comeback wins to walk-off hits, the 2020 season surely had its fair share of highlights, and here are the top five moments:
5. Opening Day win over James Madison
Not only did the Wolfpack start off its season with a 4-0 win over James Madison University, but head coach Elliot Avent also recorded his 1,100th career win in his 24th season with the Wolfpack. Avent is now just one of eight active head coaches to have received this honor.
The win over James Madison showed glimpses of what fans could expect the rest of the season. Junior pitcher Nick Swiney pitched a gem and combined with sophomore Baker Nelson and senior closer Kent Klyman for the shutout. Junior outfielder Jonny Butler started his season strong with a two-run homer to right center to give the Pack the early lead, and junior infielder/outfielders Devonte Brown and Austin Murr each tacked on extra runs to support the Pack and lead it to the win.
4. Thrashing of Coastal Carolina
NC State faced Coastal Carolina University on Wednesday, March 4 in between away series in Minnesota and Virginia. In what was supposed to be an average midweek matchup, the Pack showed just how strong its offense could be.
The Wolfpack scored 10 runs in the first inning alone, including a two-run homer from Brown and a grand slam from junior catcher Patrick Bailey. NC State scored five more runs in the second inning, followed by nine additional runs on 21 hits.
The game ended after only seven innings with a final score of 24-7 NC State.
3. Patrick Bailey’s grand slams
As mentioned earlier, this was the season of grand slams for Bailey. In just 11 days, Bailey hit three grand slams, contributing to the Pack’s already incredibly hot offense.
His first came against Tennessee Tech in the second game of the doubleheader on February 22 to give NC State the early lead in the second inning.
B3 | Like we said, PATTY BARRELS IS BACK!! After two singles and a hit-by-pitch loads the bases on one out, Bailey goes yard for a 𝔾ℝ𝔸ℕ𝔻 𝕊𝕃𝔸𝕄.📺https://t.co/RyqO6oQeOP#Pack9 5, TTU 1 pic.twitter.com/raqcPbiHUQ— #Pack9 ⚾️ (@NCStateBaseball) February 22, 2020
Six days later, Bailey struck again, this time against Iowa in the first game of the Cambria College Classic in Minnesota. His eighth-inning grand slam gave the Wolfpack a five-run lead in its eventual win.
His last grand slam of the season came in the first inning of the thrashing of Coastal Carolina to give NC State a 10-run lead at the time.
In his draft season, combined with his other offensive stats, Bailey proved he would be a great fit for any farm system’s offense.
2. JT Jarrett’s walk-off hit against NC A&T
This play comes right in the heart of the Wolfpack’s toughest stretch all year. Entering the weekend series at Virginia, the Wolfpack was undefeated, but it lost two of three in Charlottesville and struggled again the night before this game at home against UNC-Charlotte.
In the last game of the unfortunately suspended season, the Pack was looking to snap its two-game losing streak and come out with a win over North Carolina A&T. It was a back-and-forth game, with five ties and six lead changes, but the Pack still entered the ninth inning down 7-5.
The bottom half of the inning started with a double to left-center from sophomore infielder/outfielder Tyler McDonough. He scored a few minutes later on a single from sophomore catcher/outfielder Luca Tresh. The bases were then loaded after a double from Brown and an intentional walk to Bailey, bringing junior infielder J.T. Jarrett to the plate.
In one of the most critical moments all season, Jarret came in clutch, ripping a two-RBI walk-off hit to right center field for the win.
Giving the Pack its momentum back from earlier in the season, it would have been interesting to see how the effects of this hit would have carried over into the next series in Boston.
1. Comeback win over Minnesota to win the Cambria College Classic
Back in late February, the Wolfpack traveled to Minnesota to play three strong Big 10 teams in the Cambria College Classic. After two strong wins against Iowa and Purdue, the Pack showed its first signs of struggle all tournament and even all season against the mighty Minnesota Gophers.
The Pack’s offense started strong to score three early runs, but Minnesota responded quickly to take a 7-3 lead, which marked the first time NC State was trailing all season. The Wolfpack scored three in the fifth inning but still trailed by one entering the top of the eighth, which is when it finally broke through. McDonough and Bailey each led off with base hits, and McDonough scored on a wild pitch from third to tie it up. After a pair of walks which loaded the bases, freshman outfielder Noah Soles drove in two runs, giving the Pack the runs it would need to go on and win the game.
NC State ultimately won the game with a final score of 11-7, allowing them to become the 2020 Cambria College Classic Tournament Champions. The true showing of teamwork here to come back and get the win is what makes this the best game all season.