Pack Tops Heels, 6-3

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- NC State used timely hitting and solid relief pitching to avert a sweep in Chapel Hill on Sunday as the Wolfpack defeated No. 22 North Carolina, 6-3, at Boshamer Stadium.

With the win, State improved to 20-14 overall and 8-9 in ACC play. The Pack snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory and it also ended a run of four straight losses to Carolina dating back to the 2013 College World Series. The Tar Heels dropped to 22-14 and 9-9 in the conference with the defeat.

Ryan Williamson came in relief and hurled 4 innings, allowing 1 run on two hits while striking out five and walking two, to pick up his third win of the season against one loss. Will Gilbert entered with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and Tyler Ramirez at the plate representing the tying run. Gilbert got Ramirez to pop out on one pitch and recorded his second save of the campaign.

Tyler Thornton (1-4) was the losing pitcher for North Carolina despite tying a career-high with 10 strikeouts in six innings of work.

“We just played a team today,” Williamson said. “Everybody contributed certainly. We’ve lost a few games by one run but we just keep saying ‘Tomorrow is going to be a different day.’ It worked out today.”

NC State scored first for the second straight game. As they did in the first two contests of the series, the Tar Heels did not wait long to respond. North Carolina did its damage with two outs in the bottom of the third on RBI singles from Zack Gahagan and Joe Dudek.

The Pack answered quickly as well. Joe Dunand, who also made a sensational defensive play to help limit the Heels to only one run in the third, doubled home Willard with two outs to tie the game at two in the fourth inning.

In the following frame NC State retook the lead. Jake Fincher singled to lead off the fifth and Logan Ratledge doubled to move him to third. Palmeiro laced a single through the right side to score Fincher and then Andrew Knizner hit into a fielder’s choice to plate Ratledge, giving the Wolfpack a two-run advantage.

Carolina crept closer in the bottom if the seventh. Raleigh-native (Millbrook High School) Brian Miller walked with one out. After Skye Bolt popped out, Landon Lassiter doubled off reliever Joe O’Donnell to drive in Miller and cut State’s lead to one run.

In the top of the ninth, the Wolfpack added some insurance after Joel McKeithan slugged a Thornton 2-0 offering off the wall in left-center to drive in Josh McLain--who entered the game as a pinch runner for Willard. Ratledge then extended the lead to three by driving in McKeithan with a sacrifice fly.

“When your team plays with hearts and guts as a coach your job is pretty much over,” NC State head coach Elliott Avent said. “I have never been more proud of a ballclub.”

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