Baseball swept in opening series by No. 21 North Carolina State

Jack Donovan, Contributing Writer

The baseball team opened its season with a series against nationally-ranked No. 21 North Carolina State at Doak Field in Raleigh, N.C. on Feb. 15-17. North Carolina State swept in the three-game series with final scores of 8-2, 14-2, and 12-8. Featuring three preseason All-Americans in their lineup, the Wolfpack were able to take the first two games with ease but struggled to put away the Orange and Blue in the final game on Sunday.


The first game of the series was in NC State’s control from the beginning. After a two run home-run in the first inning and three more runs in the third inning, Bison starting pitcher Jeff Gottesman ’19 was pulled, and the Wolfpack held a commanding 5-1 lead early. They went on to score three more runs and win 8-2. Bright spots from the loss included Caleb Broughton ’21 and Chris Cannizzaro ’22 picking up their first career collegiate base hits.


Pitching depth beyond Gottesman is a question mark for the Orange and Blue this year. Bison pitchers struggled to tame the talented bats of a strong ACC offensive lineup. The second game was not favorable to the Orange and Blue, as NC State grabbed the lead early again, putting the Bison in a 6-0 hole by the fourth inning. With a leadoff double from infielder Dominic Toso ’21 followed by RBIs from Alex Baumann ’20 and Miles Moore ’19, the lead was trimmed to 6-2. However, the Wolfpack tallied eight more insurance runs to grab a 14-2 win.


The Sunday game proved to be the closest contest of the series. NC State continued its trend of the weekend by scoring first, with four runs on four hits in the bottom half of the second. The Orange and Blue tallied three in the next half inning due to good plate discipline and a two-out bases-loaded single by outfielder JohnPaul Bell ’20. Jack Schuler ’21 was able to rope an RBI single to make it a one-run game. Starter Jack Simpson ’20 tossed 6.1 innings and kept the game close into the seventh inning.


With smart base running and RBIs from Tyler Wincig ’20 and Toso, the Orange and Blue had their first lead of the series, 5-4 in the seventh inning. Bell then busted the game open with a two-run blast that stretched the lead to 7-4 heading into the bottom half of the inning. NC State showed why they are one of the top 25 teams in the country and put up seven runs in the bottom of the inning, topped off with a grand slam, plus a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth for a 12-7 lead. Bell continued his hot day by registering another RBI in the top of the ninth. The Bison were poised to rally down 12-8 with the bases loaded and two outs, but left the runners stranded and fell for their third loss of the weekend.


“Despite losing the series, I think that there were many things that went right,” Wincig said. “Playing such a well-regarded opponent like NC State served as a tremendous learning opportunity for the team. We certainly made our fair share of mistakes, but each one of these mistakes presented us with a new opportunity to learn and improve…We played much better baseball as the weekend progressed, and in our final game on Sunday we caught a glimpse of the high caliber baseball our team is capable of playing.”


The team continues with their non-conference schedule against Wofford, USC Upstate, and Pittsburgh in Spartanburg, S.C., on Feb. 22-24.


“I am really excited about the team that we have this year,” Wincig said. “If we continue to work hard, grow closer to one another, and commit ourselves to the common goal of winning, we will be able to compete against any team. Each year, our expectation is to win the league, and this year is no different. I have no doubt that despite this tough weekend, other Patriot League teams will fear us come league play.”

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