The NC State baseball team could not hold off 11th-ranked Kentuckynight, as the Wildcats earned an 8-6 victory to force a winner-take-all rematch night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The Wolfpack moved to the regional final without a loss, suffering its first loss of the Lexington (Ky.) Regional .
In the double elimination format, Kentucky is 3-1 and NC State in 2-1 in regional play and the teams will square off in a decisive game Monday night atThe winner of contest will advance to the NCAA Super Regional.
Overall, the Wildcats move to 42-21 on the year and the Wolfpack falls to 36-24.
NC State struck first in the contest with a pair of runs in the top of the second. Evan Mendoza singled to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and Brett Kinneman drew a walk before Andy Cosgrove doubled to left center to plate both to give the Pack a 2-0 lead.
Kentucky countered in the bottom of the third with two runs to even the score. Brock Deatherage’s RBI triple helped the Wolfpack quickly regain the lead, 4-3, as Kinneman singled earlier in the frame and scored on the play.
The Wildcats plated single runs in the fourth and fifth innings before breaking the game open with four in the sixth to grab an 8-3 lead. NC State was not done; however, as the Pack trimmed the deficit to 8-6 with three runs in the seventh.
Deatherage doubled to start the frame and Stephen Pitarra walked to score on Joe Dunand’s team-leading 18th home run, a three-run blast to deep left field. His 18 homers are the most for a Wolfpack player since the 1993 season when Colt Morton hit 19.
NC State couldn’t get anything going in the eighth and had tough luck in the ninth, as Deatherage smoked a ball back up the middle that bounced off the UK pitcher right to the first baseman who tagged him for the out.
For the second consecutive game, eight of the Wolfpack’s nine batters in the starting lineup recorded at least one hit headlined by Deatherage with a 2-for-3 showing. Cosgrove and Will Wilson each extended their reached base safely streaks to 15 in the contest.
Junior Brian Brown started on the mound for the Wolfpack and battled the top offense in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) for 5.2 innings. Freshman Kent Klyman also appeared in the game in relief and threw 2.1 shutout innings with two strikeouts.
The teams will return to the fieldnight for the third meeting in as many days. First pitch is slated for at Cliff Hagan Stadium.