NC State has scuffled for most of the season but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
The Wolfpack scored six of its eight runs with two outs and freshman Michael Bienlien pitched six strong innings en route to his second straight victory as NC State knocked off No. 22 Florida State, 8-4, at Doak Field in the rubber match between the two schools Sunday.
With the victory, the Pack moves to 18-15 overall and 7-8 in ACC play. The Seminoles dropped to 21-13 and 7-8 in the conference.
“Sunday [games] are hard to play,” NC State head coach Elliott Avent said. “There is momentum on one side and there is doubt on one side. Sunday’s are tough to play physically. Every body is tired a little bit, beat up a little bit.”
After allowing 10 runs in the seventh inning to lose Friday, NC State rallied to take the next two games against the Seminoles and win the series.
In each of the wins the Wolfpack got started early. Evan Mendoza, who blasted a three-run bomb in the opening frame Saturday, laced a two-out single to drive home Josh McLain and give NC State a lead it would not relinquish.
Joe Dunand, who also smashed a solo homer in the third inning, then drove in Brad Debo with a double to left. Brett Kinneman, who would finish 3-for-4 in the contest, lined a single to right to plate Mendoza and Dunand. NC State never looked back.
“One of the big things we press on is two-out hits win ballgames,” Kinneman said. “You saw it today, we scored six runs [with two outs] and that was the difference.”
Bienlien moved to 2-1 season with the win. The righty fanned three while allowing two runs on three hits and walking two. He threw 60 of his 94 pitches for strikes.
“We didn’t play as well as we should have Friday -- we had one bad inning -- but we did play well.” Bienlien said. “I knew we had momentum going into today so I just wanted to give us a chance to win after I left the game and I did that. It ended up turning out well for us.”
After a Saturday loss in its series last week at Notre Dame dropped the Wolfpack to 14-14 overall, NC State has won four of its last five games. The ACC season, which is now at the midway point, will enter the stretch run next weekend when the Pack travels to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina.
Before the series against its rivals, NC State will host UNCG in a Tuesday nonconference matchup. The Pack knocked off the Spartans earlier in the season in Greensboro.
“I think it is huge for us to be able to come back like that after a tough one on Friday,” Kinneman said of the series victory against the Seminoles. “I thought we played pretty well Friday night besides that one inning but I thought it was big for us to come back and two days in a row play two pretty complete games.
“Hopefully that helps us here over the next couple of weeks or so.”