ELON, N.C. - No. 19 NC State kept its momentum rolling with an 8-1 road win over Elon thanks to a group effort from the Wolfpack pitching staff, scattering seven hits to surrender a single earned run, and power hitting for a combined six RBIs from Andrew Ciencin, Jake Fincher, and Brett Austin.
Ciencin broke the game open with his third homerun of the year, a two-run shot to left center to cap the Pack’s five-run fourth inning, on his way to a 2-for-4 day with a double, two RBIs, and two runs scored. Fincher provided a triple and a double in his 2-for-4 performance, scoring twice and driving in two as well. Austin went 2-for-5 with two RBIs, a run, and a stolen base.
“We did a great job to get it to 6-1 on some big hits,” said NC State head coach Elliott Avent. “An error kept the inning going for us, and we took advantage. Ciencin hit that huge homerun to take control. I think our guys are starting to understand that with our pitching, defense, and speed, all we need to do is stay calm and continue generating quality at-bats.”
Vance Williams (1-0) took the win on five innings of work for State (12-3, 2-1 ACC). Williams allowed five hits and Elon’s only run of the day, earned in the third, struck out three and walked one. Danny Healey worked two shutout innings, giving up two hits. Travis Orwig made the second appearance of his career, striking out two batters in the eighth. Chris Overman closed the game with one strikeout in the ninth.
Ryan Mathews had a pair of singles in his 2-for-5 outing. Danny Canela went 1-for-3 and drew two walks. Chris Diaz finished the game 0-for-4 to put an end to his ACC-leading 14-game hit streak, but drove in a run with a sac fly in the ninth. Trea Turner led off the game with the first triple of his career, finishing 1-for-4 with one run.
Elon (10-6, 5-1 SoCon) starter Jim Stokes (1-2) ended up with the loss, giving up six runs, three earned, on six hits, walking four and striking out five over 3 2/3. David Whitehead pitched the next 4 1/3, and Grant Fisher finished the game with both relievers allowing one earned. The Wolfpack’s 11 hits against Elon marks the most the Phoenix pitching staff has surrendered all season.
“I’m proud of our guys for coming out tonight and getting this win over a really good Elon team,” said Avent. “We came into this game ranked for the first time all season, and there were a lot of ways we could have responded to that, but they handled it positively.”
The Wolfpack struck immediately thanks to Turner’s lead-off triple to start the game. Austin plated him with no outs, getting aboard on an infield single and advancing to second when the first baseman’s toss to the pitcher covering first fell short. Canela walked to put runners on the corners with one out, but Elon benefited from an inning-ending double play to get out of the early jam only allowing one run.
Elon loaded the bases in the second before grounding into an inning-ending double play, but came back for more in the third. Sebastian Gomez fired a grounder up the middle to lead off, followed by an infield single and steal by Jake Luce to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. Alex Swim’s sac fly tied the score 1-1 . Luce got picked off, leaving early for third, and Kinsella grounded to first to end the inning.
Fincher hit his second triple of the season, and the second of the game for State, to score two runs in the top fourth. Tarran Senay drew a one out walk, and Matt Bergquist singled through the left side behind him. Fincher cleared the bases to make it when his fly to right center tailed just out of the diving reach of Elon’s center fielder. With two gone, Austin reached on a dropped third strike, scoring Fincher. Then it was bombs away for Ciencin, as he blasted his third homer of the year to extend the lead to 6-1, chasing Stokes from the game.
Fincher doubled as the lead-off man in the sixth, moving to third on Turner’s sac bunt, and scoring on Austin’s second RBI of the game, a single through the left side. In the top of the ninth, State added one more to make it 8-1 after Ciencin led off with a double. Canela moved him over with a fly to center, and Diaz picked up the RBI with a sac fly to center.
NC State returns home this weekend for an ACC series against No. 24 Wake Forest. All three games will be broadcast on 88.1 WKNC, fans can follow Twitter updates from @NCStateBaseball, and live stats will be available at GoPack.com.
Saturday’s game marks St. Baldrick’s Day, as the Wolfpack and the Deacs will take part in BaseBald’s fundraising event for childhood cancer.
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