N.C. State beat Army at its own game to pay back the Black Knights and stay alive in the NCAA tournament.
The Wolfpack manufactured some runs early, without getting hit until the sixth inning, and used Army’s mistakes against them in a 11-1 win.
The top-seeded Wolfpack (42-17) will face No. 2 seed Auburn at 7 p.m. on Sunday night. N.C. State needs to beat the Tigers twice to win the Raleigh Regional.
N.C. State lost 5-1 to No. 4 seed Army (37-24) on Friday night in a game where the Black Knights scrapped together runs and minimized mistakes. The Wolfpack cleaned up its miscues to build leads of 1-0 and 3-1 before cranking out a big inning in the seventh to break the game open.
N.C. State improved to 5-1 after losing the first game to an opponent this season. The Wolfpack got exactly what it needed from sophomore reliever Kent Klyman and starter Johnny Piedmonte. Klyman worked 2.1 innings after Piedmonte had to come out in the fifth inning with an injury.
Piedmonte, making his first start since April 29, didn’t allow a hit in four innings. He walked two and struck out two batters in 52 pitches.
He had a 3-0 count on Anthony Giachin the first batter faced in the fifth, before he had to come out of the game. The sixth-year senior has been fighting back and elbow problems throughout his career. He received a standing ovation from the Doak Field crowd for his gutty performance.
Piedmonte has a history of saving the Wolfpack in elimination games. In 2016, he got all but the last out in a win over Navy in the NCAA tournament.
Neither team had a hit through five innings but N.C. State managed to score a run in the first, thanks to a hit batter (Josh McLain), a steal and a sacrifice fly.
N.C. State first baseman Evan Edwards provided the first hit of the game, for either team, with a two-run home run in the sixth.
Army scratched out a run — with a hit, double steal and passed ball — in the bottom of the sixth but N.C. State’s offense broke loose in the seventh.
McLain tripled and Stephen Pitarra doubled to highlight State’s seventh-inning rally. Will Wilson homered in the eighth and Edwards added another dinger in the ninth.
Nolan Clenney worked the final 2.2 innings to push the Wolfpack through to Auburn, which opened the regional with a win over Northeastern on Friday and clobbered Army on Saturday.
N.C. State is trying pull off what it did in 2012 and beat an SEC team (Vanderbilt) twice to win the regional after going through the losers’ bracket.