N.C. State got into a pitching rhythm, after an unconventional start, and then got enough offense to beat North Carolina on Thursday night.
The Tar Heels rallied for two runs in the ninth inning but N.C. State hung on for a 6-4 home win.
Shortstop Joe Dunand hit a pair of doubles to help the Wolfpack (33-17, 14-12 ACC) snap a four-game losing streak, its longest of the season.
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N.C. State used seven pitchers, after starter Cory Wilder didn’t get out of the first inning, and had four of its top five hitters get two hits each.
“Our guys just stuck with it and we pieced some stuff together,” said N.C. State coach Elliott Avent, in his first game back after missing the past three with a snakebite injury.
UNC (33-20, 12-16) likely lost the game when it didn’t capitalize on N.C. State’s early pitching mistakes. Wilder hit two of the six batters he faced, and walked another, and only lasted two-thirds of an inning.
Despite the poor start, the Wolfpack gave up only one run in the first inning and another in the second.
“We had a chance to be ahead more than 2-0,” UNC coach Mike Fox said. “You look back at how the game ended, that was critical.”
That’s because UNC was able to rally for two more runs in the ninth after falling behind 6-2. Shortstop Logan Warmoth’s fourth hit, and third RBI, made for an interesting finish.
But N.C. State reliever Will Gilbert got UNC first baseman Zack Gahagan with runners on first and third to end the Tar Heels’ rally.
Warmoth, who has been on a tear lately, finished 4 for 5 with three RBI. The rest of the UNC lineup combined for the same number of hits as Warmoth.
Warmoth did the damage early. He had an RBI single in the first inning but N.C. State reliever Chris Williams struck out rightfielder Adam Pate with the bases loaded.
Williams didn’t make it out of the second inning after Warmoth had another RBI single.
N.C. State’s parade of pitchers continued, five through six innings, but the Tar Heels couldn’t add to their lead.
Cody Beckman (2-0) got the win after striking out three of the four batters he faced.
Travis Orwig settled the bullpen down with 2.2 scoreless innings.
“We all did our part,” Beckman said. “That’s how the bullpen works.”
After scoring three runs in three games, all losses at Louisville last week, N.C. State’s bats came back to life.
The Wolfpack got three runs in the sixth inning, all with two outs, after first baseman Preston Palmeiro singled in second baseman Stephen Pitarra, who led off the inning with a double.
Dunand followed Palmeiro with a double and then right fielder Brock Deatherage doubled in a run for a 3-2 lead.
The Wolfpack chased UNC starter Zac Gallen (5-6) in the seventh inning after a leadoff walk by left fielder Brett Kinneman and single by designated hitter Chance Shepard.
Pitarra drove in Kinneman with an RBI single and then third baseman Evan Mendoza, whose 23-game hitting streak ended, plated Shepard with a deep sacrifice fly to left.
Dunand doubled again to score Pitarra and the Wolfpack had a 6-2 advantage.
It’s only one game, but N.C. State needed some confidence after entering the series with six losses in seven games.
The slow start did scare Palmeiro a little.
“It kind of felt like, ‘Here we go again,’ ” said Palmeiro, who finished 2 for 4. “But we knew our bullpen would keep us in it and we could get some runs tonight.”
N.C. State did and held onto the No. 5 seed in next week’s ACC championship in Durham with the win.
UNC fell a game behind Duke (13-15), which beat Pitt 2-1 in 10 innings, in the ACC standings but would still be in the championship field as the No. 10 seed.
Ten of the 14 teams make the ACC tournament field. The last four seeds — No. 7, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10 — are in the play-in round to get to pool play.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio