It was a good weekend for non-revenue sports at N.C. State, but the baseball team didn’t do its part on Sunday. The Pack put up a six-spot in the third inning but failed to plate a run in any other frame and dropped the series finale to Seton Hall, 8-6. State swept a doubleheader from the Pirates Friday but couldn’t complete the series sweep.
It was a rough first outing for freshman David Harrison, who was tagged for seven runs in 4.1 innings. Harrison coughed up three unearned runs in the first thanks to some shoddy defense behind him and coughed up the lead thanks to allowing a pair of homers after the Pack’s big third inning briefly gave them the lead.
Pirate relievers combined to allow just one hit over the game’s final six innings and State struck out 11 times for the second straight game.
Elliott Avent wasn’t around to see the end of it, as he was tossed—and appropriately so—after Steven Oakley was hit in the head by a pitch, but not awarded first base because he didn’t try to get out of the way, to start the ninth.
There were few bright spots for the Pack, though freshman Devonte Brown did go 2-for-3 with a walk, run, and RBI triple, though unfortunately he fanned on a pitch over his head with two outs and the sacks drunk in the seventh. Josh McLain homered but was just 1-for-5. After going 0-fer in the doubleheader, Brett Kinneman was 2-for-4 with a two-run double in the Pack’s big third inning. Michael Bienlien, who was a Sunday starter most of last year, pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts.
Not starting Bienlien and once again benching on-base machine Stephen Pitarra, who had two hits in the opener and walked as a pinch hitter Sunday, were two vintage Avent headscratcher moves that the Pack could not overcome.
But baseball wasn’t the only show in town. Here are a few blurbs about other Pack programs in action during this fine February weekend…
The Pack wrestling team took the ACC duals championship in a matchup of the #6 Wolfpack and their chief conference wrestling rival, #8 Virginia Tech. Kevin Jack, the #2 ranked wrestler at 141 pounds, helped State get a huge early lead in the competition with a 15-0 tech fall win, but, after trailing 16-3 in team scoring, the Hokies clawed back to within 16-15 before the final matchup at heavyweight. In a matchup of ranked wrestlers, State’s big man, Michael Boykin, scored the bout’s lone takedown in overtime over Andrew Dunn to secure the conference title. Freshman Hayden Hidlay remained perfect on the season in the dual with an 8-4 win over Solomon Chishko.
State closes the duals season this afternoon at Reynolds against #2 Ohio State.
The women’s softball team earned a split in the ACC/B1G challenge, going 1-1 against both Ohio State and Northwestern. The Buckeyes are a top 25 team and the Wildcats came in to the event having only one loss (and that came to a top 10 Arizona squad), though they went just 1-3 on the weekend with a pair of one-run losses to Louisville. State walked off the Buckeyes in their first meeting but had the favor returned in the rematch. The ladies are off to a 5-4 start. Not overly impressive, but consider that the team has been starting four or five freshman in each game. One of those losses was by a run and another by just two. This team should do well in the ACC—a weak softball conference—and improve considerably as the season progresses due to all the youth. Oh, and last year State was outscored 41-1 in the ACC/B1G challenge, so I’d say this weekend was definitely progress.
The most impressive newcomer so far has been Sam Russ. The speedy lefty slasher is batting a robust .550 in eight games. The second best mark on the team, for comparison, is a .286 mark held by sophomores Jade Carraway and Angie Rizzi. Russ made an impressive diving catch in Saturday night’s game against Northwestern. Fellow freshwoman Timberlyn Shurbutt is batting just .222, but four of her six hits have gone for extra bases, including a grand slam against tOSU, and she’s driven in eight runs on the year. Shurbutt was racing to cover the bag at third in a game this weekend and barehanded an errant throw while finding the bag to get a force out. Previous iterations of Pack clubs under Shawn Rychcik have depended more on plodding sluggers, but this is a much more athletic, aggressive, and fun to watch club.
The women’s swimming team finished 3rd in the ACC championships. On the final day of competition, Madeline Kline won the platform diving and Hannah Moore took the gold in the 1,650 freestyle. In all, State had 12 podium finishes, including four firsts, four seconds, and four thirds.
The Pack men are off to an 8-0 start this season after picking up wins over Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth this weekend, both on the road. State also has road wins over P5 schools Minnesota and Northwestern. State sophomore Alexis Galarneau is the nation’s 19th ranked singles player.
As intrepid women’s hoops reporter Sherman Basinger is sure to detail in a fan post, Wes Moore’s ladies cruised to a 74-61 win over Wake Forest in the 13th annual Play4Kay game. Aislinn Konig had 20 points on just 12 field goal attempts as her hot shooting from the bonusphere continues; she was 6-for-11 from deep. Akela Maize added 18 points as the 25th-ranked Pack picked up their 10th ACC win.