The NC State baseball team survived a rather poor offensive showing to register the win Tuesday afternoon against the Patriots of George Mason. The win moves the Wolfpack to 21-4 overall on the season, while the loss drops the Patriots to 10-12 on the season.
George Mason struck first in the 2nd inning on a double down the left field line by 1B Greg Popatak followed by an RBI single from RF Scott Morgan. Popatak finished the day with two doubles, the only two extra base hits of the game by either team, and also scored a run.
All three Wolfpack runs were scored in the bottom of the 2nd inning despite not getting a ball out of the infield, all thanks to a pair of back-to-back two-out miscues by the George Mason defense. Brock Deatherage reached base on a one-out bunt single, then stole second base. Shane Shepard walked to follow Deatherage. One batter later, Dillon Cooper hit a graciously-ruled single on a two-out groundball deep into the hole between shortstop and third base. The George Mason shortstop fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw ended up a one-hopper that skipped past the first baseman allowing Deatherage to come around and score. Shepard and Cooper both moved up a base on the throwing error. JT Jarrett then followed with what should have been a routine groundout to second base, but the ball was booted, scoring both Shepard and Cooper.
George Mason tacked on one more run in the fourth inning thanks to an error on a weak ground ball to first base with two outs, scoring a runner from third. Patriots pitcher Jared DiCesare, despite coming in with a 9.31 ERA on the season, pitched a phenomenal game in the hard-luck loss. DiCesare’s final line 7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K on 97 pitches.
Freshman Nick Swiney earned the win for the Wolfpack with 3.2 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out four batters. Fellow freshman Reid Johnston got the start on the mound and, while not at his best, still went four solid innings, allowing both George Mason runs (only one earned) on five hits while striking out three batters. Nolan Clenney came on to record a key strikeout in the 8th inning with two outs and the tying run on third; it was the only batter he faced in the game. Joe O’Donnell worked around a lead-off double to Popatak in the 9th inning to record his team-leading fifth save of the season.
Next up for NC State is a three-game Thursday-Friday-Saturday conference series at Virginia Tech. First pitch for the Thursday game is slated for 4:00pm. All three games will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN.