Baseball Hangs On For Wild 14-9 Win Over A&T
RALEIGH, N.C. An 11-2 lead should be safe, even in college baseball with its aluminum bats, short fences and wind-blown ballparks. NC State discovered otherwise Wednesday, building an 11-2 advantage against North Carolina A&T through four innings, only to have to hang on for dear life and a 14-9 victory over the Aggies at Doak Field at Dail Park.
Marcus Jones had a career day for the Wolfpack, tying his career high with four hits, two of them bases-clearing extra-base hits that accounted for his career-high six RBIs. Jones hit a three-run double to key the Wolfpack’s four-run first inning, then had a three-run triple in the fourth to highlight another four-run frame.
A&T starter Nick Rogers (0-1) allowed seven of those runs on eight hits in three innings of work and was tagged with the loss.
Wolfpack starter Jeff Stallings and reliever Joey Cutler (2-0) did their part to make the lead stand up. Stallings allowed two runs on three hits in three innings, and Cutler pitched two innings and allowed a pair of unearned runs. Through five innings, the Pack still led 11-4 and looked to be in complete command.
In the top of the sixth inning, however, the world rolled over on lefthander Alex Sogard, whose two-third of an inning defined the concept of a bad-luck outing. Sogard, who was charged with four runs, two earned, gave up a single to left to Joe McIntyre leading off the inning, then retired Neil Rosser on a routine fly ball to right. Joe Wade hit a grounder to first base that kicked off the glove of Bill Edwards for an error, putting runners on the corners, and Phillip Brewington struck out for the second out of the inning.
With two outs, Sogard’s luck turned all bad. Nick Mayo hit a nubber to the left of the mound, and Sogard fielded the ball but was unable to make a play. The infield single scored McIntyre, and Jeremy Jones singled to left to score Wade and cut the lead to 11-6. Nelson Santos followed with another swinging bunt to the left side of the mound. Third baseman Matt Payne charged this one, but Santos beat the throw for another infield single to load the bases for C.J. Beatty, who singled through the right side to drive in a pair of runs and cut the Wolfpack lead to three runs at 11-8.
Jake Buchanan, who wound up earning his second save of the season, finished off the unlucky sixth for Sogard and wound up allowing just one run on three hits in 3 1/3 innings. A&T’s last run came on Beatty’s RBI single in the top of the eighth, which cut the lead to a mere two runs at 11-9.
NC State finally pushed the lead back to five runs with a three-spot in the bottom of the eighth, thanks in large part to the speed of reserve outfielder Wade Moore. Jeremy Synan led off the inning and was hit by a pitch. Moore followed and beat out a bunt to the left side of the mound. Devon Cartwright reached on an infield single to load the bases with none down, and Aggies reliever Marquis Frink then unloaded a wild pitch that caromed off towards the third-base dugout. Synan scored easily, and Moore never hesitated rounding third, scoring all the way from second on the play. Cartwright wound up on third base and scored on Payne’s sacrifice fly to center field for the final run of the game.
NC State will return to action this weekend with a three-game series against Virginia, the opening of the Atlantic Coast Conference series. Game times are 3 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. All three games will be broadcast on WKNC-FM (88.1) and will be available through Pack Pass on gopack.com.