Monday, March 4, 2024

Local products on display during N.C. State, UNC-Wilmington ball game

WILMINGTON – Four ballplayers with local ties all played in a role in Wednesday’s midweek tilt between UNC-Wilmington and nationally-ranked N.C. State. Mason Berne (Topsail High School) delivered a three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth, but the late comeback attempt fell short in an 8-5 setback for the Seahawks at Brooks Field.

The Wolfpack struck first in the contest with a pair of runs in the second inning. Shane Shepard (Ashley High School) reached on an error and advanced to third base on a double down the left field line by Andy Cosgrove. A singled up the middle scored two, while Shepard added a solid defensive play at first base in the bottom of frame, robbing Terence Connelly of a lead off base hit.

N.C. State added two runs in the third on back-to-back solo homers for a 4-0 cushion. With the Wolfpack in front 5-0 in the fourth, Nick Feight hit one over the wall in left for his third long ball of the season to put UNCW on the board.

Joe O’Donnell (Hoggard High School) was first out of the bullpen for N.C. State, tossing 1.2 scoreless innings of relief. O’Donnell (1-0) picked up his first win of the season, having let up two hits and one walk in six batters faced.

Trailing 7-2 in the eighth, Berne blasted a three-run bomb to pull UNCW within striking distance, but the Wolfpack added an insurance run in their final at-bat and closed out the result. Berne launched his third homer this spring and walked twice to finish 1-for-2 with 3 RBI.

Clark Cota (Topsail High School) worked the ninth for the Seahawks, allowing one walk and one unearned run. In five innings pitched this season at the back end of UNCW’s bullpen, Cota has a 0.00ERA, with five walks, seven strikeouts and one save.

N.C. State improves to 7-6 on the young season, while the Seahawks dropped to 3-8 following its eight straight set back. UNCW opens a three-game series at home against Longwood on Friday. The Wolfpack return to action this weekend when it opens Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play at Wake Forest.

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