Down 7-3 on the road heading into the 5th inning, things weren’t going great for NC State. A three-spot in that 5th inning helped make things better, but the Wolfpack still found themselves down a run heading into the 8th inning. That’s when things finally opened up for the Pack, and the team would go on to put up five runs over the final two frames en route to an 11-7 victory over a very good Minnesota team.
After the two teams traded zeroes in the first inning, Luca Tresh led off the top of the 2nd with a solo home run to left field, giving NC State an early lead, 1-0. Jose Torres would follow three hitters later with his own home run to left field - the first home run of his career - pushing the lead to two.
In the 3rd inning, the Pack would scratch another run. Tyler McDonough led off with a walk and advanced two bags on pitches in the dirt. Jonny Butler singled to center field with one out to get McDonough across the plate and make it a 3-0 game.
State pitching fell apart in the bottom of the 3rd. Four Minnesota runs crossed the plate with only a single ball leaving the infield. Four free passes (three walks and a hit-by-pitch) allowed for that damage to be done. State would end up needing three pitchers to get through the inning.
The 4th inning saw Minnesota extend its lead to four runs. A lead-off walk, a throwing error on the pitcher, and a fielders’ choice set up an RBI groundout. After a pitching change, Golden Gophers’ CF Easton Bertrand would hit a two-out, two-run home run to push the Minnesota lead to 7-3.
Thankfully, that home run would mark the end of the scoring for the day for Minnesota. NC State brought in David Harrison for his third appearance of the year (first appearance in relief), and for the third time this year he was lights out. Over the last five innings of the game, Harrison allowed only one hit, walked one, and hit one batter, while striking out six. Most importantly, he didn’t allow a run to score. In fact, only one base runner even reached scoring position while he was on the mound.
Before Harrison stepped on the mound, though, State trimmed the Minnesota lead to 7-6 with a three-run top of the 5th inning. Patrick Bailey led off with a walk and Devonte Brown followed with a single. With men on 1st and 2nd, Butler hit a triple into right-center that plated both runners and cut the deficit to two. Tresh followed with a single to right to plate Butler and cut it to a one-run game.
With Harrison quieting the Golden Gophers’ bats, NC State took the lead in the 8th inning. McDonough led off with an infield single into the hole at shortstop. Bailey then hit a single into right field, with McDonough going from first base to third. A wild pitch allowed both runners to advance, with McDonough tying the game at seven. Brown walked and Butler laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up. Following a pitching change, pinch hitter Noah Soles smacked a two-RBI single past the shortstop to put the Wolfpack back on top, 9-7.
In the top of the 9th, State used a little luck and a little power to put the game away. Austin Murr was the unfortunate recipient of a strikeout on a bad check swing call, but the baseball gods smiled and the pitch tipped off the catcher’s glove and went to the backstop, allowing Murr to reach base. McDonough then crushed a ball to right field for a two-run home run and an 11-7 NC State lead.
Minnesota went three up, three down in the bottom of the 9th for a drama-free finish to the game.
NC State had five hitters post multi-hit games: McDonough (2-4, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB), Bailey (2-4, 2 R, 2 BB), Butler (2-5, 3B, R, 3 RBI, SacB), Tresh (2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB), and Terrell Tatum (2-4). Also reaching base safely multiple times were Murr (1-5, R, BB) and Brown (1-4, 2 R, 2 BB).
Harrison (5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) earned the win on the mound for his relief effort. Chris Villaman (2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) cruised through the first two innings of the game before allowing the first two runners to reach in the 3rd (walk, single) and being lifted from the game. Matt Willadsen came in, but allowed a walk and a single himself before being quickly pulled. Canaan Silver (1.2 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) and Sam Highfill (0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K) bridged the gap to Harrison.
Andrew Wilhite (2-4, R, SacB) and Jack Wassel (2-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI) each had multiple hits for Minnesota. Bertrand (1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, HBP), Jack Kelly (1-3, 2B, RBI, 2 BB), and Otto Grimm (0-1, 2 R, 2 BB, HBP) also reached base safely multiple times.
NC State is back in action on Wednesday in Raleigh when they take on Coastal Carolina (7-3) at 3:00pm.