There’s a reason Patrick Bailey is considered a top prospect for the 2020 MLB Draft. He’s fundamentally sound, both with the bat and behind the dish. He’s a switch-hitting catcher who can hit for power and average from both sides. And - oh yeah - he’s clutch.
After NC State had given away a 5-0 lead and allowed Iowa to climb back to tie the game in the top of the 7th, Bailey put the team on his back and all but single-handedly won the game for the Pack from there, blasting a home run in each of the 7th and 8th innings to will the Wolfpack to a win.
Leading off the bottom of the 7th, Bailey fouled off pitch after pitch, working the count full until finally getting a pitch to crank - and crank he did. Bailey, hitting from the left side as he was facing a right-handed pitcher, turned on an inside offering and lined it out to left field just inside the foul pole to give State the lead back, 6-5.
In the bottom of the 8th inning, State managed to load the bases with two outs to give Bailey another chance to deliver. He did, of course, this time hammering a pitch well out to left-center field for a grand slam and a 10-5 Wolfpack lead.
Reid Johnston was great for the Wolfpack in the start, not allowing a hit through his first four innings and facing just one batter over the minimum (thanks to a defensive error behind him). Johnston did allow a run in the fifth on a double, single, and a sacrifice fly, but his final line was impressive: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.
NC State jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the 1st inning when Austin Murr hit the first pitch of the game from Iowa starter Jack Dreyer, driving it out to right field for an early 1-0 Pack lead.
The 4th inning was big for State as the team pushed across four more runs to extend the lead to 5-0. Devonte Brown led off the inning with a walk and moved to third on a single by Luca Tresh. Jonny Butler walked to load the bases and Vojtech Mensik started the one-at-a-time scoring with an RBI single to center field to make it 2-0 State. J.T. Jarrett pushed an RBI grounder through the left side to extend the lead by another run, and after a fielder’s choice, Murr tallied another RBI with a walk. Tyler McDonough capped the scoring in the inning with an RBI groundout to make it 5-0.
The Hawkeyes did the majority of their damage in the top of the 7th inning, scoring four runs to tie the game. After striking out the leadoff hitter, Evan Justice allowed a walk, a double, and an RBI single. With two men on and the State lead down to two, Baker Nelson came on to try and calm things down. That didn’t work. Nelson allowed an RBI groundout and an RBI double that cut the State lead to one. After another hard hit ball landed just foul, Baker was pulled in a 1-2 count in favor of freshman Sam Highfill. Although Highfill allowed a single to tie the game, he struck out the next batter to get out of the frame.
That set up Bailey’s heroics. His 8th inning grand slam was set up by a Jarrett double, an error on the Iowa shortstop that allowed Murr to reach base, and a McDonough walk.
Iowa would score one more run in the top of the 9th on a leadoff double and a single, but the Wolfpack brought in Kent Klyman to shut the door and get the final two outs - which he did without allowing another run.
Highfill earned the win on the mound and is now a crisp 3-0 on the year. Drew Irvine suffered the loss in relief for Iowa; he’s now 0-2 this season.
Bailey (2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI), Murr (2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, HBP, SB), Mensik (2-4, 2B, R, RBI), and Jarrett (2-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI) each tallied multiple hits on the day, while McDonough (0-3, R, RBI, 2 BB) and Brown (1-4, R, BB) also reached base safely multiple times.
Zeb Adreon (3-4, 2 2B, 2 R), Dylan Nedved (2-2, R, 2 RBI), and Peyton Williams (1-3, 2B, 2 R, BB) paced the Hawkeyes at the plate.
The Pack will play their second game of the Cambria Classic/ACC-Big Ten Challenge against Purdue on Saturday at noon. Nick Swiney will be on the mound for State.