Hard to believe, but despite being no hit for 5.1 innings by UNC ace J.B. Bukauskas, NC State struck first in its opener at Chapel Hill Friday night. Stephen Pitarra broke up the no-no with a single and scored on a two-out rap from Josh McLain, but UNC answered in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run homer from Kyle Datres and then battered the Pack pen en route to a 7-2 win.
Bukauskas ended up allowing four hits but just the one run to improve to 6-0. He fanned a mere six in seven innings, which really isn’t too bad for Pack batters considering he has 81 in 58 innings on the year. Sean Adler was the tough-luck loser; the homer to Datres was the only damage done to him. He went 5.2, didn’t walk anybody, and struck out four.
Austin Staley was unable to keep the Pack close, allowing three runs in just two-thirds of an inning. Oddly, Elliott Avent went to the mound with two lefty batters due up to face the righty Staley with lefty Cody Beckman readying in the pen. He left Staley in to face the lefties, who answered with a walk and hit, respectively, and then brought the lefty Beckman in to face a right-handed batter…who promptly singled in another run. I’m sure Avent’s gut was telling him something.
Cory Wilder came on and served up a long one in the 8th to push UNC’s advantage to 7-1.
State loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth but only managed one run out of it.
Saturday’s game will surely go better. It better.