RALEIGH, N.C. – Trea Turner led off the game with his second homerun of the year, but No. 19 NC State still needed a four-run fifth inning to put away Charlotte 6-3 Wednesday at Doak Field at Dail Park.
Turner’s homer in the first highlighted a 3-for-4 evening with two RBIs and three runs to spark the Wolfpack (27-12) offense. The freshman from Lake Worth, Fla. turned on the jets for an infield single, and reached on a bunt single for his remaining hits.
Chris Diaz represented the only only Pack player to go for multiple hits, driving in a pair on a 2-for-4 effort with a double and a run scored. Diaz is 13-for-23 (.565) over his last five games with seven doubles, 12 RBIs, and nine runs. Ryan Mathews had State’s other RBI, a single through the left side in a 1-for-3 game, and scored a run.
The Wolfpack utilized five pitchers with reliever Danny Healey (4-0) taking the win on 1 2/3 innings, holding Charlotte (17-23) to one hit and one walk while striking out one. Starter D.J. Thomas went three innings, allowing one earned on four hits. Dillon Frye delivered a solid effort as the first man out of the bullpen, striking out three over 1 1/3 shutout innings with one hit and one walk. Ryan Wilkins struck out three batters over the seventh and eighth, giving up one earned on four hits. Chris Overman pitched the final inning, giving up a solo homer with one out before retiring the final two on a double play.
Charlotte used five pitchers as well, but reliever Jordan Hudson (0-1) ended up with the loss after allowing two earned in 1 1/3 between the fourth and the fifth. Starter Brock Hudgens went three innings, striking out five in a three hit, one earned run, one walk effort.
“I don’t think it’s a great start to the weekend, but fortunately we go off of more than momentum to win ballgames,” said NC State head coach Elliott Avent. “We need to concentrate on having more focus and bringing more energy into Friday.”
Turner led off the game by parking a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left, his second homer of the year to give State a 1-0 lead. Hudgens rebounded by striking out three of the next four batters to end the inning.
The 49ers tied the game 1-1 in the third. Brad Elwood led off the inning by poking a soft liner down the third base line for a double. A sac bunt moved him to third, setting up Justin Roland’s RBI single through the left side to tie the game.
Charlotte loaded the bases with one out in the top fourth, but Frye escaped without allowing a run. Frye induced a fly to left for the second out, and Tarran Senay got the ball in quickly to keep the runner at third. Frye struck out the next batter on three pitches to finish the inning.
State pulled ahead 5-1 with a four-run fifth. Logan Ratledge was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and moved to second on Jake Fincher’s sac bunt. A passed ball helped Ratledge to third before Turner legged out an infield single up the middle to plate the first run of the inning. A wild pitch pushed Turner to third, and Diaz drove an RBI single up the middle to make it 3-1. Another wild pitch advanced Diaz to second, setting up Mathews to drive him in on a single through the left side. Andrew Ciencin grounded to first for the second out, but Mathews made the turn for third and scored on an errant throw across by the pitcher covering first.
The Pack added a run in the seventh thanks to Turner’s lead-off bunt single. Turner dropped one down just beyond the dirt in front of home to reach, and took second on an errant throw by the pitcher. Diaz sprayed a ground-rule double into the right field corner to make it 6-1.
Charlotte hacked into that lead, but could have had more in the eighth. An RBI single by Justin Seager through the left side with one out put runners on first and second. Elwood followed by smashing a grounder back to the mound that banged off of Wilkins’s leg for an infield single to load the bases. The Wolfpack escaped as the next batter grounded to third for Turner to touch the bag and fire across to end the inning on a double play.
The 49ers added another in the ninth to narrow the final margin to 6-3. After a fly ball for the first out, Leland Clemmons smashed a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left for a solo shot to trim the lead. Tony Montalbano reached on an error to make things interesting. Overman finished the deal on the next batter, though, inducing a liner straight to Ratledge at second, who tagged the runner for a game-ending, unassisted double play.
NC State stays home this weekend for a three-game set against Duke, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Radio coverage for all three games will be provided by 88.1 WKNC, fans can follow Twitter updates from @NCStateBaseball, and live stats will be available on GoPack.com.