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Wolfpack drop opener to Wake Forest, 8-2

Rhett Lowder pitched a complete game for the Demon Deacons

COLLEGE BASEBALL: APR 26 East Carolina at N.C. State Photo by Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tip of the cap to Rhett Lowder tonight. The Wake Forest starting pitcher was fantastic on the evening, eventually lowering his already ACC leading conference ERA in a complete game effort to top NC State.

The Wolfpack had the right approach in attacking Lowder early in at-bats, but Lowder was (for the most part) able to induce weak contact which permitted the gameplan to backfire on the Pack and keep Lowder’s pitch count down. The low number of pitches allowed him to throw his first career complete game on just 89 pitches.

State had their moments, like a 4th inning Gino Groover home run and an 8th inning Tommy White homer, but those were both solo shots as the Pack struggled to get men on base all evening. Groover’s homer was his 10th of the season while White’s was his 23rd, setting a record for ACC freshmen.

Wake got on the board first via a 2nd inning two-run home run by Brock Wilken that just stayed inside of - and may well have gone directly over - the left field foul pole. Groover hit his shot an inning and a half later to cut the lead to 2-1.

The score stayed there until the 8th inning when the Deacs used a leadoff walk and some uncharacteristic small ball to manufacture another run and push their advantage to 3-1. White immediately answered with his homer cutting the deficit back down to a single run.

Unfortunately, the 9th inning did not go well at all as a combination of walks, errors, and timely hits allowed Wake to blow the game open with a five-run frame.

On the evening, Wake batters out-hit State 8-to-5 while Wolfpack pitchers walked a combined seven Deacs. Lowder did not issue a walk for Wake. It’s hard to win when that’s the case.

White was the lone offensive bright spot for State on the night, reaching base three times courtesy of his 8th inning home run, a 6th inning single, and a 1st inning hit-by-pitch. That HBP will be something worth monitoring as it was a 94 mph fastball to White’s right wrist and was clearly giving him discomfort as the game progressed.

Walks aside, Wolfpack starter Logan Whitaker pitched a great game. His final line: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 5 K. Whitaker’s record now stands at 2-3 on the year, but that is in no way indicative of how well he’s pitched this year when State has needed him most.

The Wolfpack will look to bounce back on Friday night at 6:30pm.