A controversial home run by Evan Mendoza gave NC State an early lead, but two late runs secured the victory in a 6-1 victory for the Wolfpack over East Carolina. The win came less than one week after a 15-3 drubbing for the Pirates in Greenville on Tuesday.
Mendoza finished the game 2-for-4 with a run and four RBI to lead the Pack to the win, but all anyone wanted to talk about after the game was the homer. Mendoza stroked the pitch to the left field foul pole, where it was initially called a foul ball by the third-base umpire. After both NC State’s third-base coach Chris Hart and head coach Elliott Avent argued the call, it was overturned.
The immediate reaction was elation for NC State and dismay for East Carolina. Pirate head coach Cliff Godwin argued his case before eventually being guided back to the dugout by the home plate umpire.
Meanwhile, Mendoza was honest about his initial thoughts on the hit.
“I thought it was foul,” Mendoza admitted. “And then I saw the first base umpire say it was foul. … I’m not the biggest power guy, so I don’t get ahold of balls too often. First thought was, ‘You gotta be kidding me. Foul ball?’
“I guess that was the correct call.”
Another look at the HR call for NC State. Looks like Cliff Godwin has an argument. #ECU #Pack9 (via @GameDayCharlie) pic.twitter.com/WSZGzyfp3I
— Cory Smith (@RCorySmith) April 25, 2016
Funny, because that’s exactly what the third base umpire thought as well. But after a meeting with his two partners, the call was changed. It was a weird situation for Godwin, who had rarely seen a call changed, much less a home run.
“The explanation was they were trying to make the right call,” Godwin said. “It’s the third base umpire’s call. I’ve been involved in two situations where an umpire has flipped another umpire’s call and been on the losing situation both times. Their job is to make the right call. Was it the right call? I don’t know.”
The official who overturned the call was home plate umpire Greg Street, who has called College World Series games and serves as the MLB AAA evaluator. With countless college baseball games under his belt, Street was commended by Avent along with divulging some, let’s say unique, details.
“I think Greg Street is one of the best umpires in college baseball,” Avent said with a smile. “The third-base umpire admitted he didn’t see it. He just didn’t see it. I think he had the decency to let the home plate umpire know he didn’t see it. … That takes a lot of courage and respect for the game.”
Avent later revealed the third base umpire told Hart that nugget of information later in the game.
While the homer was the story of the game, Mendoza’s RBI single in the eighth put the Pirates to rest with six runs on six hits. Ryan Williamson, normally NC State’s Sunday starter, went 6 2/3 innings with one earned run while scattering six hits.
Six days after the Pack bullpen was shelled by the Pirates, Evan Brabrand, Travis Orwig and Tommy DeJuneas combined to allow just two hits and no runs over the final 2 1/3 innings. It was a night of redemption for NC State in a series that is equally as important as any ACC opponent on the schedule.
“Everyone knows we played them last week and they got the better of us,” Mendoza said. “We all were there. We knew how we lost. We told ourselves we weren’t going to lose like that again.
“I think this is probably as big of a series as Clemson or UNC. It’s almost a regional feel.”
Follow NSJSports on Twitter.