NC Sate entered the bottom of the seventh trailing Air Force 5-2. Thirteen unanswered runs later, everything is okay. State used a barrage of bombs off the soft underbelly of the Falcon bullpen, including a pair of three-run home runs from Brett Kinneman, to erase the deficit and win going away, 15-5.
The Pack have plated nine or more runs in each game of their six-game winning streak. After six games in seven days, they’ve got the next three days off before facing Bowling Green Friday.
State stranded 11 runners on base over the first six innings, allowing the undermanned Falcons to hang around. They did more than that in the top of the seventh when a Will Wilson error opened the floodgates for three unearned runs. Josh McLain also failed to make a difficult play—but one he would usually make—on a long fly ball off the wall to center. A catch and the damage is limited to a run, but instead the Falcons went up 5-2.
Wilson atoned. His three-run blast in the bottom half of the frame knotted the score. He finished the game 3-for-3 with a walk, a double, his first home run, and three runs scored, all after not starting for the third consecutive game. He may have won his job back.
Kinneman’s job is certainly not in jeopardy. The junior leftfielder was 4-for-6, adding a triple and single to his two dingers. The first of his long balls broke a 5-5 tie in the seventh; the second made it 13-5 an inning later. Kinneman’s 23 RBI lead all of college baseball. His seven round-trippers are merely tied for first.
Shane Shepard finished off the long ball barrage with a two-run shot in the eighth to give us the final margin of 15-5. Shep had three hits and three RBI on the day. Patrick Bailey had a pair of hits including his first career home run, giving the Pack a total of five gophers on a wet and wild afternoon at the Doak at Dail.
Lost in the late offensive onslaught was a fantastic pitching effort from Nick Swiney, who worked the middle three innings, posting nothing but goose eggs, and recorded eight of his nine outs via strikeout. Evan Justice fanned four over his two shutout innings, and, in all, State struck out 16 Air Force batters.
After Bowling Green, the 8-1 Wolfpack will host Campbell Saturday and Canisius Sunday. Start times are 3 p.m., 2 p.m., and noon, respectively.