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Wake Forest overcomes third Pack comeback bid, ekes out series win

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Also, some words about some other sports

College World Series - Virginia v Vanderbilt - Game Two Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

NC State played nearly 20 innings of baseball Saturday. At the end of what was an intense and entertaining series at Wake Forest, the two teams had both tallied 17 runs. Unfortunately for the Pack, the Deacs dispersed their total a little more efficiently and took the series 2-1. It was Wake’s first series win over State since 2002.

The script was the same for each game. Wake would take a big lead only to see it evaporate with a Pack homer. Shane Shepard hit a three-run blast in the opener to pull the Pack to within 5-4, but the Deacs held on to win 6-4. Brett Kinneman’s three-run blast made it 5-4 in game two, played as part of a doubleheader Saturday. State would tie it on a wild pitch and go on to win 8-5. Ironically, Kinneman was ruled out trying to tie it on a wild pitch in Friday’s game. He was clearly safe. But, just before his homer Saturday, Will Wilson was ruled safe when clearly out while trying to move up to third on a wild pitch. It should’ve been the third out, but Kinneman homered to get the Pack back in it. Perhaps these things do even out.

In game three, the Pack appeared dead in the water heading into the bottom of the eighth trailing 5-0, but then things got a little bit chippy. Andy Cosgrove, who seems to have wrestled the starting catching duties from Brad Debo and Jack Conley, was hit by a pitch but called back to the plate. He was ruled to have leaned into it on purpose, though the replay didn’t support that. Whatever. Wake’s Donnie Sellers, who worked into the eighth for the first time in his career, drilled Cosgrove in the back with a fastball with the next pitch as if to say, “You want to get hit by a pitch, here ya go.”

A good bit of jawing ensued, as apparently Cosgrove’s exuberance after some earlier strikeouts of Wake batters had drawn the ire of the Deacs. Sellers did not get the last laugh, allowing a single to Brock Deatherage to load the sacks and then walking Josh McClain to force in a run. Enter Griffin Roberts, Wake’s closer who went three overpowering innings on Friday night. He was greeted rudely, as Wilson smacked a grand slam to knot the game.

Unfortunately Roberts found his groove and went the next 2.2 innings without allowing a run. He struck out five. John McCarren pitched a perfect 11th and got the win when Wake rallied off Christian Demby, who went from DH to the mound in the 10th. Demby got through the first frame without issue but gave up a leadoff triple to Wake’s best player, Stuart Fairchild, in the 11th and the end was nigh. Fairchild finished with four hits, missing the cycle by a double.

Cosgrove and Shepard had a pair of hits for the Pack. State employed eight pitchers in the game, starting with Dalton Feeney, who was given a quick hook after allowing a run in three innings. Zach Usselman and Evan Braband looked rough in relief, giving up a combined four runs while getting just five outs, but Ken Klyman, Tim Naughton, Johnny Piedmonte, and Austin Staley all managed scoreless outings in front of Demby. In retrospect, trying to get a couple more innings from Feeney and Piedmonte, both of whom have pitched well of late, might have helped the Pack.

Aside from Kinneman’s homering heroics in game two, the bullpen was the story. Joe O’Donnell went 3.1 shutout innings as the Pack rallied to get the win. Staley went two shutout frames for his second save. Staley’s outing in game three gave him three shutout innings on the day.

Evan Mendoza, who doubled off Roberts but was left stranded in game three, had a pair of hits, a pair of walks, and a pair of runs scored in game two. Josh McLain had three hits.

This was a fun series, but unfortunately the loss magnifies the Pack’s ugly start to the season. 8-8 and 1-2 in the ACC is a lot different than 9-7, 2-1. State really needs to take care of business in midweek games at Elon (Tuesday) and at home against George Mason (Wednesday) before welcoming a very good Miami club to the Doak at Dail over the weekend.

In other news…

Congrats to the Pack softball team! After a brutal start to the season, the ladies took two of three against a decent Syracuse squad over the weekend. Peyton Silverman got both wins in the series, going the distance in each win and allowing just three earned runs over two starts. Macauley Prickett walked the Pack off with a double in the rubber match.

In indoor track and field, Joshua Davis finished 5th at the NCAA championships with a career-best weight throw of 72’2.75”. He earned All-America honors for the second time in his career.

Megan Moye took 12th in the mile to become the Pack’s first woman to garner All-America honors in the event twice. Erika Kemp was 11th in the 5,000 meters. She’s now garnered All-America finishes four times between track and cross country. Rachel Koon was 15th in the 3,000 meters, securing All-America honors as well.