Pack Sweeps Lancers

RALEIGH, N.C. -- With the regular season waning, NC State needs as much momentum as possible heading into the ACC Tournament as it tries to reach postseason play.

The Wolfpack used that momentum to defeat Longwood to complete the weekend series sweep Sunday afternoon at Doak Field at Dail Park. The, 6-3, victory was the fifth consecutive win for head coach Elliott Avent’s team as it improves to 26-18 on the season.

“Our confidence is as good as it’s been all year,” Avent said. “We went through that stretch where we lost nine out of 12 and six by one run. To come back the way they did [over this stretch] shows us a very confident baseball team.”

Johnny Piedmonte started on the mound for NC State but left after giving up two runs on five hits with one strikeout and one walk in 3.1 innings of work. Will Gilbert (2-1, 1.71 ERA) took over and picked up the win. The Morrisville native gave up one run on five hits in 2.1 innings while striking out four.

After starting the game in right field, Tommy DeJuneas shut down the Lancers for the final 3.1 innings, racking up three strikeouts en route to his fourth save of the season. At the plate, DeJuneas went 1-for-3 with two RBI.

“It felt good seeing the team score runs and get hits,” DeJuneas said. “We played really good defense. It’s nice to see that we’re really starting to come together, and it’s a good time for it.”

The Lancers struck first in the top of the third inning. Third baseman Brandon Harvell hit a two-out single that set the stage for left fielder Kyri Washington’s home run, his tenth of the season.

“[Longwood’s] a good baseball team,” Avent said. “They can swing it well, and they can do a lot of things.”

The Pack responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the frame. After leading off with a triple, left fielder Brock Deatherage scored on a deep sacrifice fly by shortstop Logan Ratledge.

NC State took the lead one inning later when catcher Chance Shepard launched a two-run home run of his own over the left field fence off of Longwood starter Brandon Vick (2-6, 7.81 ERA), scoring third baseman Joe Dunand on the play. The blast was the sophomore’s third of the season.

“In the first at-bat [in the second inning], I was a little early on the changeup,” Shepard said. “[Vick] fell behind 2-0, so I knew he had to throw me something over the plate. He left the fastball up, and I put the barrel to it.”

Longwood evened the score in the next frame. Center fielder Colton Konvicka led off the top of the fifth with a walk. After stealing second and moving to third on a balk, the Richmond, Va. native scored on a single from first baseman Connar Bastaich.

NC State regained in the bottom half of the fifth. First baseman Preston Palmeiro smacked a one-out double into the left-center gap and advanced to third on a passed ball before designated hitter Andrew Knizner lined the game-tying, RBI single down the right field line. Two batters later, Dunand doubled, followed by a Shepard walk to load the bases. DeJuneas took the next pitch off of his hands to bring Knizner home.

“[The pitch] barely got me,” DeJuneas said. “It got the very bottom of my hand. It didn’t have me worried [when I got called to the mound]. I was comfortable out there.”

The Pack added one more run in the bottom of the seventh. After reaching on a fielder’s choice and advancing to second on a groundout, Dunand scored on an RBI single from DeJuneas.

NC State will return to action on Tuesday at 6 p.m. with a home game against Campbell before traveling to Winston-Salem for a three-game series versus Wake Forest starting Friday.

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