NC State and Miami were locked in a pitchers duel for the first four innings of Friday night’s ACC series opener with NC State’s Jason Parker and Miami’s Evan McKendry, both junior right-handers, trading turns in keeping the other team off the scoreboard. Eventually, it was the Wolfpack who put up the biggest inning in taking the series opener and improving to 21-1 (6-1) on the season. Miami falls to 15-7 (3-4).
After two quick strikeouts to start off the top of the 5th inning, it looked like McKendry would yet again put up a goose egg on the scoreboard for State’s half of the frame, but five consecutive two-out hits would put a five-spot on the board for the Wolfpack and stake them to a lead that would hold up the rest of the way. SO C Patrick Bailey started things with a two-strike opposite field double. SR 1B Evan Edwards (1-for-4, 2B, BB, R, RBI) then traded places with Bailey at second base while pushing Bailey across the plate, hustling out a double to put the Wolfpack ahead 1-0. FR CF Tyler McDonough followed with an RBI single back up the middle on the first pitch of his at-bat and moved to third base on a single by JR DH Brad Debo (2-for-5, R). SO 2B David Vazquez (2-for-3, HR, BB, R, 3 RBI) then crushed a three-run home run off the scoreboard in left field to give NC State the 5-0 advantage.
The lengthy top-half of the inning seemed to negatively impact Parker as he didn’t have the same level of control in the 5th that he had displayed throughout the first four innings. After back-to-back walks to Miami hitters, SO LHP Evan Justice came on to relieve Parker. Justice got the first man he faced out before issuing back-to-back walks to push across Miami’s first run of the game. A ground out back to Justice would push across another run before a strikeout would finally end the bottom half of the inning with the score at 5-2.
Bailey (2-for-5, 2 2B, 2 R) led off the top of the 7th with another double. He would come around to score two batters later when McDonough (3-for-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI, SB) cranked a double over the head of the Miami centerfielder to make it 6-2.
Miami would threaten in the bottom half of the 7th, putting men on 1st and 2nd with one out; however, FR RHP Baker Nelson (2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K) would get the ground ball, JR SS Will Wilson would flash some fancy glove work at his position, Vazquez would make the turn at second base, and Edwards would finish it off with an impressive stretch at first base to end the threat.
The Hurricanes would cut the lead back down to three in the 8th on a one-out massive solo home run by SO 1B Alex Toral. Miami would work back-to-back two-out walks to bring the tying run to the plate, but NC State would turn to RS-SO RHP Dalton Feeney to close the door on the game. After inducing a flyout to end the threat in the 8th, Feeney (1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K) would set down all three Miami batters in the 9th in order, with the last one coming on a called strikeout to end the game.
Vazquez extended his hitting streak to eight games for NC State. McDonough’s three-hit game was his 12th multi-hit game of the season. Bailey now has nine doubles in his last nine games. Feeney’s save was his fifth of the season. JR LF Jonny Butler also had two hits on the day.
For Miami, McKendry struck out 11 Wolfpack hitters in suffering the loss, while SO SS Freddy Zamora (1-for-4, BB, RBI), FR DH Adrian Del Castillo (1-for-3, 2B, BB, RBI), and RS-SO C Michael Amditis (1-for-2, 2 BB, R) all reached base multiple times.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for Saturday night at 7:00pm. SO RHP Reid Johnston will be on the mound for the Wolfpack.