North Carolina State Baseball News

Mendoza’s overturned homer leads NC State over ECU, 6-1

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.”

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.”


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East Carolina baseball routs NC State at home, 15-3

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Every East Carolina starter reached base in a 15-2 blowout win over NC State on Tuesday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium. The victory marked the fourth straight midweek win over an in-state rival — but none more important than taking down the No. 8 Wolfpack.

The No. 20 Pirates (24-12, 5-4 AAC) used three huge innings in the second, fourth and sixth to put the game out of reach for NC State (26-11, 10-6 ACC). With a combined three home runs, 12 RBI and six runs by Zack Mozingo, Turner Brown and Bryce Harman, ECU’s hot hitting propeled the Pirates to their seventh win at home in the last 10 games.

“It’s nice to get a win over a huge in-state rival,” Brown said. “It helps the RPI, it helps everything. It’s just a huge win. … We didn’t like the feeling against UNC, so we weren’t going to let another in-state rival beat us.”

ECU opened the game with one run in the first as Parker Lamm advanced home on a wild pitch by Johnny Piedmonte. The Pirates chased Piedmonte in the second, who was on the hook for three earned runs on three hits over 1 1/3 innings after an RBI single by Turner Brown and sac bunt by Charlie Yorgen.

The Pirates’ five-run fourth was started by a Mozingo two-out grand slam. Chris Williams was nearly off the hook with two outs, but an error by Joe Dunand allowed Mozingo to break the game wide open.

Another error by Dunand in the fourth allowed Travis Watkins to reach second after the throw to first base went out of play. Harman made the Pack pay with an RBI double laced down the right-field line to give the Pirates an 8-0 lead after the fourth.

“That was my first [grand slam], so I finally got that out of the way,” Mozingo said with a smile. “I just knew it was big time because they just made an error. I needed to capitalize on the error they made, so I was just sitting curveball and put a good swing on it.”

While ECU’s pitching staff scattered six hits and gave up just two runs, NC State’s bullpen was a revolving door. Piedmonte’s early exit triggered a long night for the Pack that saw eight total pitchers toe the rubber.

The Pirates hitters peppered the Pack’s pen with 14 hits, but four errors by State infielders were key in the rout. On the night, State pitchers allowed nine earned runs of the 15 total with a shaky defense behind them.

After a disappointing 17-4 showing in a loss at home against North Carolina earlier this season, the blowout win in front of 4,734 fans was a welcomed sight for ECU coach Cliff Godwin.

“I’m just happy that we were able to play well in front of a packed house,” Godwin explained. “And just show Pirate Nation we can play in front of a packed house unlike UNC. … That’s what you sign up for when you come to ECU — to play in front of big crowds.

“I tell them, ‘Hey look, if you don’t like pressure, you shouldn’t play with East Carolina. You shouldn’t put the purple and gold on.”

Despite the loss, NC State has a chance to get right against NC A&T, which dropped to 9-31 on the season on Tuesday. ECU travels to High Point on Wednesday before hosting UConn in Greenville over the weekend.

The Pack will be looking for revenge next Tuesday night as the Pirates travel to Raleigh. After getting hosed by ECU on the road, a home win would be vindication for the Pack. A loss would mean the first two-game sweep for ECU since 2009 — giving the Pirates bragging rights for the next year.


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NC State baseball seals the sweep of Wake Forest on national stage

NC State needed a decisive series win to sit alone in fourth place in the ACC. Wake Forest just wanted a win with a losing record in the conference.

The Wolfpack’s 6-1 victory Monday night sent the Demon Deacons home reeling after being swept for the first time all season. It gave the Pack a convincing win on ESPNU, showing the country what the No. 12 team in the country is capable of on both sides of the ball.

“It’s hard to sweep anybody in college baseball,” NC State coach Elliott Avent said. “It’s really hard to sweep a conference team as good as this conference is from top to bottom. … I’m just really proud of my ball club for battling all night.”

On the mound, Ryan Williamson gave up just four hits on the night – all four coming in the seventh inning. Williamson had a no-hitter going through six innings before Will Craig – the ACC’s leader in hitting (.466) and RBI (43) – broke through with a single in the seventh.

Despite giving up one run, Williamson earned the win with six strikeouts and five walks over 6 2/3 frames. With an offense that scored three runs off Wake starter Connor Johnstone, Williamson’s ability to escape jams on multiple occasions paid off for State.

“That breaking ball is one of the best that you’ll see at this level,” Wake coach Tom Walter said of Williamson. “He had two pitches really working for him and we just couldn’t figure him out. … I give him credit because I know what we can do offensively. He just shut us down.”

NC State baseball players celebrate during a win against Wake Forest at Doak Field at Dail Park. Image courtesy of John Crouch.
NC State baseball players celebrate during a win against Wake Forest at Doak Field at Dail Park. Image courtesy of John Crouch.

Craig’s single keyed the only offensive inning for the Deacs, registering just one run off the four hits.

Meanwhile, State tallied six runs behind a combined effort by the top of the lineup. The Pack’s first four hitters in Brock Deatherage, Josh McLain, Andrew Knizner and Preston Palmeiro for eight hits, four RBI and three runs.

Battling through a back injury, Deatherage reached base four times – twice on bunt singles – and stole a base after coming up empty on Saturday for the first time in 25 games.

“This is huge,” Deatherage said of the series sweep. “Hopefully we can carry that momentum over and keep picking up some ACC wins.”

Wake has two games against UNC Greensboro to get right before a home series against No. 4 Florida State. The Seminoles are 9-2 in the ACC and surging after a series win over Louisville, only the Cardinals’ third series loss of the year.

State has five straight road games starting with Elon on Tuesday before heading to Atlanta to take on No. 18 Georgia Tech. The final road trip has in-state rivalry implications with East Carolina hosting the Pack next Tuesday – a massive showdown any time the two teams clash.

“Any time you win, it breeds confidence,” Avent said. “We know we’ve got to get better. We know we’ve got to get healthy. … We’ll just see if we can keep playing good baseball.”


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