No. 11 NC State baseball fell to UNC-Greensboro Tuesday, Feb. 23, at Doak Field 16-13. Despite being up by seven runs and five runs two separate times, the Wolfpack bullpen fell apart in its first loss of the season.
“The pitchers are not where they need to be right now,” said NC State head coach Elliott Avent. “I don’t think we pitched with enough confidence and I need to find the guys who are going to do that.”
The Wolfpack (2-1) bullpen combined to give up 13 earned runs in six innings of work. A positive for NC State was its offense, which had a season-high 18 hits in the game. Junior first baseman Austin Murr had a career-high five hits with one RBI while sophomore catcher Luca Tresh had four hits with four RBIs, including a home run.
In the first inning, the Wolfpack bats came out hot. Murr led off the inning with a single, then came into score later in the inning on a RBI single to left field off the bat of Tresh. Junior left fielder Jonny Butler came up next and smoked a three-run homer to right field to give the Pack the early 4-0 lead. It was his second so far of the early season.
“I thought we swung the bats extremely well,” Avent said. “I think we got 18 hits and I think we only punched out five times…we did a good job of staying in the zone today,”
Starting on the mound for the Wolfpack was freshman left-handed pitcher Chris Villaman, who was electric. In three innings pitched, he struck out five batters and gave up just one hit while allowing no runs. He could have gone longer, but is expected to be the Sunday starter for ACC play starting this weekend.
The Wolfpack extended its lead in the fourth inning when Murr drilled a line drive to right field that scored junior second baseman J.T. Jarrett, who led off with a single. The Wolfpack was not done as later in the inning Tresh drilled a two-RBI double to right-center field to give NC State the 7-0 lead. Both Murr and Tresh recorded hits in their first three plate appearances.
The Spartans did not back down as they responded with seven runs of their own in the fifth inning. To start, they loaded the bases, then an error from sophomore shortstop Vojtech Mensik, who dropped the throw Jarrett made trying to turn a double play, scoring two runs. The next batter Corey Rosier, drove in two more runs with a triple down the right field line.
Later, Hogan Windish hit a towering two-run home run to left field. To cap off the inning, Pres Cavenaugh hit an RBI-double down the right field line to tie the game at seven.
In the bottom of the frame, NC State took the lead back on a two-run home run to left-center field that just cleared the wall off the bat of junior center fielder Terrell Tatum. The Wolfpack added another run in the inning when Mensik grounded into a RBI fielder's choice.
“It takes just one hitter at a time and getting to the next guy, and we did that in a few innings,” Murr said.
In the sixth inning, NC State scored two more runs. The first was on a towering solo home run to left field from Tresh. The other was on a passed ball that scored Butler from third base.
The scrappy Spartans continued to battle into the seventh scoring six runs on five hits to take back the lead 13-12. It took the Wolfpack three different pitchers to get out of the inning. NC State relievers hit or walked four different batters.
In the bottom of frame, NC State tied the game on a sacrifice fly to left field off the bat of Butler that scored Murr.
After both teams went scoreless in the eighth, the Spartans found the clutch bat with two outs. Greg Hardison came up with the big hit to left field, an RBI double that gave his team the lead. Later in the inning, Josh Madole singled to left field that scored two more runs. One on the hit and the other on a throwing error from Tresh from behind the plate to third base. This gave UNCG a 16-13 lead going into the Wolfpack’s final plate appearances.
NC State got a leadoff single to open the inning, but the next three batters were retired in order to end the game.
“We were back and forth late in the game here and I think we got a pretty resilient group,” Murr said. “We felt like we were in the game and they just had a good ninth inning and scored the last runs.”
The Wolfpack will begin ACC play this Friday, Feb. 26 at Doak Field against Georgia Tech. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. with the game being streamed online on ACC Network Extra. Follow @TechSports on Twitter for live updates.