When NC State’s baseball schedule dropped, the midweek tilt at UNC Wilmington looked to be perhaps the most challenging non-conference game on the slate. The Seahawks were 29-3 at home a year ago and have made two consecutive NCAA tournaments. This season has not gone as expected for either team—the Pack stumbled out of the gates after a lofty preseason ranking, and Wilmington has now lost eight straight after State’s relatively stress-free 8-5 win on Wednesday.
The Pack went yard three times in the game and capitalized on four Wilmington errors to score three unearned runs. Josh McLain singled home a pair of runs in the second to stake the Pack to an early 2-0 lead, and Brad Debo and Evan Mendoza went back-to-back in the third to extend the lead to 4-0. A Debo infield hit and throwing error allowed Brock Deatherage to score an unearned run in the fourth, and the Pack led 5-0.
After the Seahawks scratched out a couple of runs to get to within 5-2, Will Wilson dropped a two-run bomb to push the lead back to five. Mason Berne’s three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth applied a little pressure to the Pack, but Austin Staley was up to the task, inducing a double play ball after entering in the eighth and then setting the side down in order in the ninth to notch his first save.
Deatherage helped the Pack add an insurance run they wouldn’t need when he scored after an errant throw to third on a stolen base attempt in the top of the ninth. Deatherage, who scored twice in the game, leads the club with 12 runs scored.
McLain and Debo had the only multiple hit performances for the Pack with a pair apiece. Andy Cosgrove, making his first start behind the dish (Debo DH’d), had a double, a hit by pitch, and two runs scored.
Fresh off a hitting debut against Western Carolina that saw him go 2-for-3 with a double, a homer, and two walks, Christian Demby returned to his more familiar spot on the mound and turned in a respectable performance, allowing two runs in four innings. Joe O’Donnell allowed an inherited runner to score (charged to Demby) but did not allow an earned run of his own in getting five outs and credit for the win. Zach Usselman gave up three hits, walked a pair, and was tagged with Berne’s homer in a rough outing. Staley dropped his season ERA to 2.08 by bailing out Usselman with 1.2 perfect innings.
The home runs were all season firsts for Debo, Wilson, and Mendoza, and of course career firsts for the former two, both freshmen. Wilson has driven in 12 in 13 games; Debo is batting .385. McLain leads the club with a .395 mark and is slugging a scintillating .605 thanks to a team-high six doubles.
Joe Dunand, who was yanked from the previous game after making a pair of errors, did not start but entered the game late as a defensive replacement and handled two chances without incident.
NC State improved to 7-6, while Wilmington fell to 3-8. State begins ACC play Friday in Winston-Salem against Wake Forest.