A strong start from Sam Highfill and a typically methodical effort from the Wolfpack lineup delivered an 8-1 win over Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament semifinal round on Saturday night.
The offense got to work in the second inning against Tech starter Marquis Grissom Jr. (yes, the son of that Marquis Grissom) after being flummoxed in the first. Terrell Tatum led off with a walk, and after Jose Torres popped out, Luca Tresh broke his slump with a double down the left field line to put runners at second and third. After Vojtech Mensik popped out and Devonte Brown walked, JT Jarrett delivered a bases-clearing double on an 0-2 pitch to stake the Pack to an early 3-0 lead.
As it would happen, those were all the runs NC State would need. Tresh gave State a 4-1 lead with a solo shot in the fourth, and though the Jackets appeared to get two runs back on a home run in the sixth, it turned out the ball was just foul down the left field line, and Highfill escaped the frame with no damage done.
That was a big break to prevent Georgia Tech from applying more game pressure late, but Evan Justice was also perfect in relief of Highfill, giving up zero hits in 2-2/3rds innings of work. He faced only seven batters to get those eight outs thanks to the double play he induced to end the seventh.
State added an insurance run in the eighth and pushed across three more in the ninth—two of ‘em on a Tyler McDonough homer—to make the finish stress-free.
So NC State is back in the ACC tournament championship game and looking for its first title since 1992, and this time Duke is the opponent. Regardless of the result, someone will end a lengthy drought: it’s been almost 30 years since State won this thing, and Duke has never gotten this far before.
I’d prefer it were us getting of the schneid, frankly.