NC State Secures Series With 10-2 Win over UNC

<B>CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - </b>Vern Sterry pitched seven strong innings in sweltering heat and Eric Taylor hit two home runs and drove in a career-high four runs Friday night to lead NC State past 14th-ranked North Carolina 10-2 in the second game of an Atlantic Coast Conference baseball series at Boshamer Stadium.

The Wolfpack, which won its fifth consecutive game, improved to 34-19 overall and evened its ACC record at 11-11. North Carolina fell to 37-17 and 13-10. Sterry (9-2) allowed one run on six hits in seven innings, walking none and striking out six. Garry Bakker (4-5) took the loss for UNC after allowing three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Sterry and Bakker traded zeroes on the scoreboard for the first five innings, which took less than an hour. Bakker allowed a one-out single to Bryan Kinneberg in the first inning, but picked Kineberg off first base, then gave up a one-out double to Caleb Mangum and stranded him. Bakker hit Mezistrano with a pitch with one out in the fifth, but Mezistrano was caught stealing for the second out of the inning.

Sterry, meanwhile, allowed a leadoff single to Greg Mangum in the bottom of the first, but picked him off first only seconds later, before making another pitch. Ross Cook reached on a two-out single in the second and a one-out single in the fifth, and Sterry stranded them all. He did not allow a North Carolina runner to reach scoring position through the first six innings.

NC State finally broke up the pitchers' duel with a sudden and loud rally in the top of the sixth. Jonathan Diaz lined a single up the middle with one down, and Kinneberg worked Bakker for a two-out walk. David Hicks then cranked a 1-0 changeup to deep right field for a three-run homer, his eighth of the season, to give the Wolfpack a 3-0 lead. Mike Jensen followed with a booming double off the top of the wall in left-center, ending the night for Bakker. Whitley Benson hit Jason St. Julien with a pitch before retiring Mezistrano on a grounder to first base. Taylor ripped a line-drive homer to left leading off the top of the seventh to give the Pack a 4-0 lead.

Marshall Hubbard led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple to left-center. Sammy Hewitt drove Hubbard in with a sacrifice fly to get the Tar Heels on the scoreboard, but they were unable to score again in the inning despite getting two more runners aboard. Sterry gave up an infield single to Ross Cook and hit Chase Younts with a pitch, but finally struck out Justin Webb on three pitches, and got pinch-hitter Wes Moyer to ground into a force play to end the inning.

NC State broke the game open with five runs in the top of the eighth. Kinneberg led off with an opposite-field double into the left-field corner and Benson hit Hicks with a pitch. Johnson blooped a one-out RBI single to shallow right field to drive in Kinneberg and make it 5-1, and Mezistrano lined a single off Hewitt's glove at second base to drive in Hicks and make it 6-1. Taylor made it 9-1 with a three-run homer to left, his second homer in as many innings, his third of the series and his fifth of the season.

North Carolina got a run back in the bottom of the eighth when Greg Mangum led off with a single to right, went to second when Jay Cox was hit by a pitch, took third on a groundout, and scored on Hubbard's infield single.

Hicks reached on a one-out single to right in the top of the ninth, went to second on a groundout, and scored on Johnson's single to right, making the final score 10-2, Wolfpack.

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