DURHAM, N.C. – No. 5 NC state scored three runs with two outs in the first en route to a 5-2 victory over the Duke baseball team Thursday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Blue Devils had at least one base runner in all but one inning, but went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base.
“For me there were three things that were the difference in the ball game,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “[NC State] scored three runs with two outs in the first … multiple times we were one pitch away from getting off the field. Then we make some base-running blunders early. Lastly, we’re 1-for-11 with at least seven strikeouts with runners in scoring position. We had some good at bats, but we didn’t come up with the at bat with runners in scoring position that we needed.”
NC State (40-13, 17-10 ACC) wasted little time putting runs on the board, plating three runs with two outs in the top of the first off Duke starter Robert Huber (5-7). A Tarran Senay two-out single scored the Wolfpack’s first run before Bryan Williams sent a two-run triple to right.
Huber pitched three innings in the loss, giving up four runs on seven hits and three walks.
Duke got a run back in the second after redshirt sophomore Chris Marconcini led off the frame with a base hit to right. Marconcini advanced to second on an NC State error and took third on a wild pitch to move into scoring position. Freshman Kenny Koplove then lofted a sacrifice fly to center for his 23rd RBI of the season.
The Wolfpack added a fourth run on a Trea Turner sacrifice fly in the fourth , but left the bases loaded after freshman Nick Hendrix struck out Senay looking to end the frame. Hendrix was solid in 3.1 innings of work, allowing one run while scattering five hits, walking one and striking out one.
With one out and two aboard in the fourth, sophomore Reed Anthes came just a few feet shy of his first career home run, sending an RBI double high off the wall in left field. A base-running miscue and strikeout ended the inning without further damage.
NC State plated its fifth and final run in the seventh as Carlos Rodon drove in Grant Clyde with a ground ball to first base. Sophomore Sarkis Ohanian took the mound with one out in the seventh and issued two walks before getting Jake Fincher, who was 3-for-4 on the night, to ground out to first. Ohanian faced the minimum in both the eighth and ninth innings to close out the game.
NC State freshman Brad Stone gave up just one hit over the final three innings, picking up his first save of the season in the process. Ryan Wilkins (6-2) earned the win, pitching 3.2 innings in relief of starter Ethan Ogburn. Wilkins scattered five hits and struck out five without issuing a walk.
Senior Jeff Kremer led the Blue Devils with three hits, raising his average to a team-best .315 on the season.
Duke and NC State reunite Friday evening, squaring off at 6 p.m., at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Saturday’s series finale, originally slated for a 1 p.m. start, has been moved up to 12 p.m.