N.C. State dispatched UNC Wilmington, a top 30 team in the RPI that boasts a recent win over #1 UNC in Chapel Hill, with surprising ease Tuesday. The Wolfpack, winners of 20 of their last 21 games and five straight, took a 6-0 advantage after three innings and cruised to a 7-2 win.
The Pack (38-11) swept their home-and-home with the Seahawks (34-15), winning in Wilmington 10-6 on March 27th.
The Pack led 1-0 after three batters in the bottom of the first. Jake Fincher singled with one out and doubles machine Brett Austin plated him with a two-bagger down the right field line. The two-base hit was Austin's 16th of the season.
The Pack tacked on a pair of gift runs in the second. Logan Ratledge reached on a bunt single with two down and scored all the way from first when Trea Turner's fly to right fielder Tyler Molinaro was misplayed. Fincher followed with his second hit of the game to plate Turner with the second unearned run of the frame.
The gifts kept coming in the third; two more Wilmington errors led to three more unearned runs. Ratledge, who had two more hits Tuesday after a three-hit game Sunday, drove in a pair with a two-out knock into left center field. Ratledge's average is up to .226 after a broken hand suffered in the season opener slowed him at the plate.
The final Pack run was one of the classic Turner-manufactured variety. The sophomore shortstop singled, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on yet another wild one. I'm sure the pitcher's concentration wasn't at all affected by having Turner dancing around on the base paths.
For the game, N.C. State made nine hits with Austin's double being the lone extra-base knock. Pack patience at the plate led to five walks, and Bryan Adametz also reached on an HBP.
Brad Stone toed the rubber first for the Pack and cruised through four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. After a hit batter and a walk, Stone surrendered a ground-rule double to Luis Renvill that put the Seahawks on the board. Andrew Woeck came on and limited the damage thanks to some nice defense from Brett Williams, who nabbed a fly ball for the first out and doubled up Renvill trying to tag and advance to third, though a run did score on the play.
The box score credited Michael Bass with a sacrifice fly and an RBI on the fly ball double play; however, you are not awarded an RBI when you ground into a double play, so methinks the scorekeeper may have erred on that ruling. I am going to write my congressperson. (In all seriousness, if anyone knows the answer to the conundrum of whether or not you can get a SF on a double play please enlighten me in the comments. My 27-second Google search did not yield anything definitive.)
As for Stone, he was charged with two earned in four plus innings of work. The freshman lefty struck out five but walked a pair and hit a batter. The bullpen was its normal solid self, with Woeck, Travis Orwig, Ryan Wilkins, and Grant Sasser striking out six over five shutout frames. Orwig, who was credited with the win since Stone did not go at least five innings, improved to 3-0 and dropped his season ERA to 1.50.
Wilkins appeared in relief over the weekend as well, so it appears his conversion to a starter has been backburnered for now. Beyond Carlos Rodon and Ethan Ogburn, who starts this weekend in the Pack's all-important series with Florida State is anyone's guess.