The NC State baseball team cruised to an 8-1 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide on Friday, June 4 in the first game of the NCAA regional in Ruston, Louisiana.
The Wolfpack (31-17) hit five home runs and had an excellent starting pitching performance from junior righty Reid Johnston (8 IP, 4 H, ER, 7 K) to beat the Crimson Tide (31-25).
“I’ve been able to throw strikes consistently, get ahead,” Johnston said. “The guys behind me have been making play after play, and our bats have been rolling. That kind of makes it easier. When you know you have guys behind you that can make plays, it’s easier to pitch.”
After a scoreless first inning by both teams, the Pack got on the board first in the bottom of the second with back-to-back solo home runs by sophomore catcher Luca Tresh (1-4, HR, RBI) and junior right fielder Devonte Brown (2-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI) to put the Pack up 2-0.
The fireworks continued in the third as sophomore center fielder Tyler McDonough (1-5, HR, 2 RBI) hit a two-run homer that scored junior first baseman Austin Murr (1-4, BB) to make the score 4-0.
“To get those two runs early… I think that was huge for this ballclub, and we kinda rolled from there,” said head coach Elliott Avent.
The Tide got on the board in the top of the fifth with a solo home run of their own, but the Pack responded in a big way in the bottom of the inning as freshman shortstop Jose Torres (2-3, HR, 3 RBI) hit a three-run home run that scored junior designated hitter Terrell Tatum (1-2, BB) and junior left fielder Jonny Butler (0-2, 2 BB) to give the Pack a 7-1 cushion.
B5 | 🔥 EN FUEGO 🔥📺ESPN3NCSU 7, BAMA 1 pic.twitter.com/uOvEujM0QP— #Pack9 ⚾️ (@NCStateBaseball) June 4, 2021
To cap off the scoring, Brown hit his second solo home run of the day in the bottom of the eighth to put the Pack up 8-1. In the top of the ninth, Johnston was replaced by freshman left-handed pitcher Chris Villaman (1 IP, 2 K), who retired all three batters he faced and clinched the win for the Pack.
After a disappointing 1-0 loss to Duke earlier this week in the ACC Championship game, it was especially important for the Pack to bounce back in this game, which it did.
“After that ACC Championship game, I think we were all a little down, but I think none of us took our eyes off what was next and the big picture,” Brown said. “We were all ready to go all week, we were excited, we were having fun at practice, so I think today was a very important day. We came out ready to go, swinging the bat, pitching was amazing, so today was a fun day.”
With the win, NC State moves into the winner’s bracket of the regional to play the winner of the game between No. 1 seed Louisiana Tech and No. 4 seed Rider on Saturday, June 5.