Baseball Uses Power and Speed to Beat No. 1 UNC, 9-4
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Kyle Wilson went 3-for-3 with two home runs and Drew Poulk added a homer as NC State defeated top-ranked North Carolina 9-4 on Sunday at Doak Field at Dail Park to win the ACC weekend series against the Tar Heels.
With the win, the Wolfpack improves to 24-28 overall and 10-17 in ACC play. The loss drops the Tar Heels to 38-13 overall and 17-9 in the ACC.
The victory also keeps alive NC State’s chances of qualifying for the ACC Tournament. The ACC takes only the top eight teams in the standings to the conference tournament. The Wolfpack is currently 10th but can finish in a virtual tie with Boston College for eighth place. NC State would be percentage points ahead of the Eagles in that scenario.
Lefty reliever Alex Sogard (4-2) earned the victory over the Tar Heels with three strong innings in relief. He allowed one run on two hits and walked one. Joey Cutler went the final 1 2/3 innings for his third save of the year. Cutler didn’t allow a hit and struck out two. Starter Jake Buchanan kept the Wolfpack in the game, going 4 1/3 innings and giving up three runs on nine hits. He struck out four and did not issue a walk.
Sophomore righthander Matt Harvey (5-2) started for the Heels. He went 4 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs, five earned, on seven hits. He struck out six and walked two.
Buchanan began the game by quickly retiring the first two Tar Heels hitters, but Dustin Ackley, batting third, launched a Buchanan offering off the scoreboard in left-center to give the Heels an early 1-0 lead. The home run was Ackley’s 16th of the season, ranking second in the ACC.
NC State grabbed the lead in the home half of the first. Wilson, a switch-hitter batting lefthanded against the righthander Harvey, stroked a leadoff home run to the right-field gap to knot the game at one apiece. The homer was Wilson’s fourth of the season and his first when leading off a game. Harvey followed the Wilson homer by hitting Devon Cartwright with a pitch. Cartwright advanced to second on a passed ball. Drew Poulk followed with a blast to the wall in deepest center field that Ackley ran down for the first out of the inning. Cartwright advanced to to third on the play, and the Wolfpack took a 2-1 lead when shortstop Ryan Graepel threw away Andrew Ciencin’s grounder for an error.
North Carolina reclaimed the lead in the top of the third. With one out, Ben Bunting hit a grounder up the middle that second baseman Russell Wilson stopped, but Bunting beat Wilson’s throw to first for an infield hit. Garrett Gore continued the rally, shooting the ball through the left side of the infield, leaving runners on first and third for Ackley, who responded by ripping a Buchanan fastball past first baseman Pat Ferguson and down the right-field line to score Bunting and Gore for a 3-2 North Carolina lead.Buchanan wound up standing runners on first and third by striking out Levi Michael and Fleury to end the inning.
The Wolfpack tied the game up at 3-3 in the bottom of the third. Wilson led off the inning and hit his second home run of the game, his fifth of the season, with a long shot to right-center field.
NC State once again regained the lead an inning later off the bat of Wilson. Wade Moore reached with two outs on a hit-by-pitch. With Moore off and running, Dallas Poulk executed a perfect hit-and-run by shooting a single past Tar Heel second baseman Levi Michael, who was moving to his right to cover second on the play. That put runners on first and third, and Wilson gave NC State a 4-3 lead by roping a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Moore.
The Pack used more thunder in the fifth to extend the lead to two. Drew Poulk, who played for the Tar Heels as a freshman in 2007, led off the inning with a long home run to left field, his sixth of the season to tie him for the team lead with freshman Pratt Maynard. Andrew Ciencin followed the Poulk homer with a single through the left side, and advanced to third on a stolen base and a Ferguson groundout. Russell Wilson walked, ending the afternoon for Harvey. Facing Tar Heel reliever Brian Moran, Moore singled through the left side to send Wilson to third base and scoring Ciencin. With Drew Poulk at the plate, Moore broke from first to steal second. North Carolina had a pitcher cutoff play on to stop the runner at third from stealing home, but Moran was unable to handle Fleury’s throw, which went past second and into center field for an error, scoring Wilson to make it 7-3 and sending Moore to third.
North Carolina got a run back in the seventh off on Kyle Seager’s solo home run to left-center field, pulling the Heels to within three at 7-4. The home run was Seager’s fourth of the year.
Dallas Poulk got the Wolfpack started in the bottom of the eighth with a one-out bloop single to right-center field. He took second on a wild pitch, and Bates balked him to third. Bates intentionally walked Kyle Wilson to put runners on first and third. Poulk scored and Wilson went a Bates pickoff attempt went through the glove of Greg Holt for an error. Bates’s second wild pitch of the inning scored Wilson to make it 9-4. Cutler mowed down the Tar Heels 1-2-3 in the ninth to seal the victory.
The Wolfpack will return to action on Tuesday against Appalachian State at Doak Field at Dail Park. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on WKNC-FM (88.1) and over the internet on gopack.com via Pack Pass.