RALEIGH, N.C. – Trailing by three heading to the bottom of the ninth, the top-ranked NC State baseball team rallied with a pair of runs but fell short against Virginia, 4-3, Friday night in the series opener at Doak Field at Dail Park.
Sophomore David Vazquez led off the ninth for the Wolfpack with a double to right center and Luca Tresh stepped to the plate next to pinch-hit. Facing Virginia’s closer, the freshman fell behind in the count 0-2 but battled to even the count before smashing his second home run of the season to trim the NC State deficit to one.
Unfortunately for the Pack, Virginia’s Kyle Whitten responded to retire the next three batters to nail down his fourth save of the year. Andrew Abbott threw 3.1 innings of relief to earn his second win of the season, while Jason Parker was charged with his first loss after yielding four earned runs in 4.1 innings.
NC State is now 25-2 on the year and 8-2 in ACC play, while Virginia improves to 16-10 and 6-4 in league action.
“I thought we battled as always and made it a good finish there in the top of the ninth,” said head coach Elliott Avent. “We had a chance with the top of the order up down one, but I thought they threw a couple really electric guys with great stuff. I think they’ve got a chance to pitch in the big leagues.
“We’ve got a good hitting ballclub, but they made it really tough on us. [Andrew] Blake came in and did a great job on the mound to give us a chance. As good as their guys were pitching, we still battled and had guys on base we just couldn’t get the big hit.”
– Virginia struck first in the contest with a run in the second inning, as Zack Gelof singled to start the inning, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single by Alex Tappen to take a 1-0 lead.
– The Cavaliers added a pair of runs in the third on a double play with the bases loaded and an RBI single from Gelof.
– A pair of doubles from Cameron Simmons and Nate Eikhoff extended the Virginia advantage to 4-0 in the top of the fifth.
– NC State answered with a run in the bottom of the inning after Vojtech Mensik and Jonny Butler walked prior to a single from Will Wilson to get the Wolfpack on the board and chase Virginia starter Griff McGarry.
– Reliever Andrew Abbott wiggled out of the jam with a called strikeout, as the Wolfpack could not get anything else.
– The Pack had a runner reach base in each inning after the fifth but was unable to get the big hit against a strong Virginia pitching staff.
Inside the Box Score
– Patrick Bailey and Evan Edwards each had a hit in the contest to extend their reached base safely streaks to 27, as they have reached in every game this season.
– Edwards singled up the middle in the sixth and Bailey doubled off the left field wall in the bottom of the eighth to keep his streak alive.
– Butler and Mensik also recorded hits, as both singled.
On the Mound
– Parker may not have had his best stuff on Friday night, but he battled to keep NC State in the game.
– He went 4.1 innings with four strikeouts, three walks and four runs allowed before handing it over to Andrew Blake, who went the distance.
– Blake threw a career long 4.2 innings, fanning a career-best six batters. He allowed four hits and all were singles.