by Matt Sefcovic (@MattSefcovic)
Heading into the season, North Carolina State had high expectations, ranked #23 in the College Baseball Nation Preseason Top 50. Covid-19 quickly put a damper on the Wolfpack season with multiple players missing crucial series, ultimately forcing a cancellation with the series against Duke. After being selected to finish second in the ACC Atlantic Division, Coach Avent saw his team begin conference play with a 1-8 record.
After losing their first three conference series, the Wolfpack have bounced back to finish 19-14 in the ACC, winning ten of their last 12 conference games, securing the three seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament.
The Wolfpack ended the season with a crucial series against Florida State in Raleigh, attempting to improve their tournament resume. It took just two games to secure their fourth series win against a quality Seminoles opponent.
The first game on Thursday started and ended with Luca Tresh. In the bottom of the second inning, Tresh opened up a scoreless game with a solo shot to get the Wolfpack on the board. Jonny Butler later hit a home run of his own, extending the lead to 4-0.
In the seventh inning, the Seminoles put some pressure on the Wolfpack, tying the game with a grand slam off the bat of Logan Lacey.
The game remained tied heading into the bottom of the ninth, but Tresh had no interest in playing extra innings. With one man aboard, Tresh hit his 11th home run of the season to walk-off game one in dramatic fashion, 6-4.
Reid Johnson and Evan Justice (W, 4-2) combined to strike out 16 Seminoles batters on the day.
Florida State needed to secure a victory on Friday to force a rubber match on Saturday. The Seminoles took an early lead, but the Wolfpack proved to be too much in a back-and-forth game, taking the game and series by a score of 6-4 for the second day in a row.
Tyler McDonough led North Carolina State with two RBI and scored four runs. He was 2-for-2 at the plate, including a two-run home run. Freshman Sam Highfill (W, 5-2) gave up just two earned runs in his six innings of work while striking out six. The freshman has made a name for himself as he has won his last four decisions and cemented himself in the starting rotation.
In the series finale, the two teams combined for 29 hits and 26 runs as Florida State prevented the sweep, taking game three 15-11. Matheu Nelson made one final push to earn ACC Player of the Year honors with four hits, and three RBI, including two home runs. Jackson Greene also homered for the second consecutive day and added four RBI.
Terrell Tatum launched two home runs for the Wolfpack, his 10th and 11th of the season.
Heading into ACC tournament pool play, North Carolina State will play North Carolina and Pittsburgh, two teams that are desperate for quality wins to try to earn an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.
Florida State earned the five seed and will play both Miami and Duke. Winners of each of the four pools will advance to a single elimination tournament. Pool play is set to begin Tuesday and will run through Friday, with the semi-finals and championship scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.