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NC State mounts big rally but loses to Wake Forest, 14-11

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NCAA BASEBALL: JUN 02 Lexington Regional - Indiana v North Carolina State Photo by Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Wake Forest plays in the ACC’s most hitter-friendly ballpark, and scoring runs has not been a problem for the Deacs or the Pack this weekend. The two combined to clobber nine home runs in State’s win on Friday night, and three more this afternoon.

NC State dug itself a big early hole as starting pitcher Matt Willadsen struggled from the get-go. Wake scored seven runs in the second inning to chase Willadsen, who walked four guys in that frame alone. It was just not his day.

Elliott Avent does not like pulling starters early, even with some struggles, but there was no choice today, and the Pack ended up with a tremendous performance from reliever Andrew Tillery, who allowed one run on two hits over five innings. Unfortunately, he left with an apparent injury, which is more bad news for State’s already non-existent bullpen depth.

Tillery’s steady work allowed NC State to mount a comeback—the good thing about playing in a park like this is that few deficits feel too big to overcome. The Pack got two runs back on Jose Torres homer in the fourth, then got five in the sixth, thanks in large part to Devonte Brown’s grand slam. What had been an 8-0 Wake edge was just 9-7 at that point.

State couldn’t get the two-out hits it needed in the later innings to take the lead, alas, and Wake Forest scored five runs in the eighth to put a damper on the rally effort. It was a cushion the Deacs needed, as State got the tying run to the plate in the ninth before Wake finally put this game to bed.

The series finale begins Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. NC State is 21-14 (13-13).