NC State needed two things on Sunday, after losing to Coastal Carolina. The first: a win, duh. The second: a fantastic pitching effort from starter Johnny Piedmonte against Navy. The Wolfpack got both, and State will live to see Monday. State scored 17 runs on Navy to eliminate the Midshipmen, and Piedmonte threw 8-2/3 strong innings on the way to the win.
Facing elimination, the Wolfpack did not flinch, and also showed you the difference between a No. 1 seed and a No. 4 on the third day of a regional. Navy's staff wasn't deep enough to get the Midshipmen through Sunday, especially after playing late Friday night and going to extra innings on Saturday. NC State took full advantage on Sunday, putting up a crooked number in each of the first four innings.
Piedmonte had a 10-0 lead to work with by the fourth inning, and by then the game was academic. Piedmonte was throwing well, but it was also clear that Navy's pitching was not going to be able to shut down State's lineup.
Ten different NC State players had base hits, led by Joe Dunand, who finished 4-6 and a single shy of the cycle. Chance Shepard was 3-5 with a home run and drove in five runs. Andrew Knizner, Brett Kinneman, and Evan Mendoza also had multi-hit games.
The hitting was there, but more importantly, Piedmonte, who struggled for the vast majority of the regular season, was able to preserve NC State's bullpen. NC State needs to win two more games to get out of this regional alive. It cannot be overstated how important it was for Piedmonte to go deep in this game.
He was outstanding, flashing some of the potential he showed as a weekend starter last year. His stuff and his control eluded him at times this year, but Sunday he pitched with confidence--and a big lead, which helps--and Navy proved no match.
So NC State is on to Monday. The Wolfpack will face Coastal Carolina at 1 p.m. ET, in the first of what we hope will be two games against CCU. State needs to take two from the Chanticleers on Monday to advance. So let's play two.