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That’ll work! NC State pounds UNC, 9-2, in opening game of baseball series

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Wolfpack wins behind early offensive explosion, fantastic pitching performance by Reid Johnston

College World Series Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Reid Johnston made his first start of the 2021 season in the opener of NC State’s baseball series at North Carolina, and he made the most of it. The Wolfpack didn’t need another pitcher to toe the rubber on the evening as Johnston pitched a complete game in State’s 9-2 victory over the Tar Heels.

NC State jumped out to an early lead thanks to a massive Tyler McDonough solo home run in the top of the 1st inning. Johnston worked out of a two on, one out situation in the bottom of the inning to get State to the 2nd with a 1-0 lead. State would all but put the game away from there.

Jose Torres and Terrell Tatum led off the inning with back-to-back singles. After a couple failed bunt attempts, Devonte Brown worked a walk to load the bases for Vojtech Mensik, who sent his own no-doubter of a shot well over the left field wall for a grand slam and a 5-0 State lead. Austin Murr reached on a single later in the inning, took second base on a ball in the dirt, and later scored on a Tyler McDonough single to put State ahead 6-0.

The Pack would tack on an additional run in the 3rd inning on a UNC error, scoring Brown who reached on a walk earlier in the inning. UNC got on the board in the bottom of the inning, scoring a single run to cut the State lead to 7-1.

Jonny Butler plated McDonough in the 4th on a sacrifice fly to make it 8-1 and the Pack scored their final run of the game in the 7th inning when Terrell Tatum singled home Butler from third base with the UNC infield in.

Meanwhile, Johnston was cruising. Aside from allowing a 9th inning, one out solo home run (the only extra-base hit he allowed all game), the junior right-hander was lights out. His final line: 9.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, and 4 K on 116 pitches.

This was just the type of outing NC State has been needing out of its Friday night starter. The complete game saves the struggling NC State bullpen for the remainder of the series, while UNC had to run out seven pitchers on the evening.

McDonough (3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI) led the way for State offensively. Tatum (2-4, R, RBI, BB) also notched a multi-hit effort. Brown (1-3, 2 R, 2 BB) and Butler (0-2, R, RBI, 2 BB, SF) each reached base multiple times.

Game Two of the series is Saturday at 1:00pm. Sam Highfill will toe the rubber for the Wol