NC A&T came to play on Wednesday evening in Raleigh, posting runs in six of nine innings and taking a 7-5 lead into the bottom of the 9th inning. Ultimately, however, NC State prevailed behind some clutch hitting, culminating in a J.T. Jarrett walk-off double to fend off the Aggies by the final score of 8-7.
After dropping Tuesday’s home match-up to Charlotte, this was a game that NC State absolutely had to win. Thankfully, they did that - but it wasn’t necessarily pretty.
Entering the bottom of the 9th trailing by two, Tyler McDonough led off with a double to left center. Luca Tresh followed with a line drive single to left field that scored McDonough to cut the deficit to one. With one out and Lawson McArthur (who had come on to pinch run for Tresh) still on 1st, Devonte Brown lined a double off the bottom of the wall down the left field line to put men on 2nd and 3rd. Patrick Bailey, who did not start the game, was brought in to pinch hit for Vojtech Mensik and was immediately intentionally walked to create a force out at the plate (and since his run didn’t matter).
[Quick aside: the correct coaching move there would have been to let Mensik bat with one out and put Bailey on deck to pinch hit for J.T. Jarrett. This would have forced A&T to either pitch to Mensik without the force out at the plate or to intentionally walk him to face Bailey. It worked out in the end, but it was a waste of Bailey’s hitting abilities to put him in essentially as a pinch runner.]
With the bases loaded, Jarrett put together a great nine-pitch at-bat, including fouling off three straight full count pitches. On that 9th pitch of the AB in the bottom of the 9th inning, Jarrett hit a deep drive to right center that was just barely out of the reach of the diving center fielder.
Again, I can’t reiterate enough how great of an at-bat that was by Jarrett. Both textbook and tremendous!
Noah Soles (4-4, R, RBI, SB), McDonough (3-5, 2B, R, RBI), and Tresh (2-5, RBI, SB) each tallied multiple hits on the day for the Pack. Austin Murr (1-3, R, RBI, BB, SF), Jonny Butler (1-4, RBI, BB, SB), and Jose Torres (1-3, R, BB) also each reached base safely multiple times.
Dalton Feeney earned the win for NC State, tossing the last 1.2 innings of the game without allowing a run, hit, or walk. He struck out one.
Dustin Baber (2-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, SF, SB) and Shane Faulk (2-4, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI, 2 SB) led the way for A&T. On the mound for the Aggies, Leon Davidson and Ethan Chavis combined to toss 2.2 scoreless innings allowing three hits and striking out four.
NC State hosts Boston College this weekend for their ACC home opener. Friday’s series opener is set for a 6:30pm start time.