DURHAM — The last time UNC and NC State played each other at the DBAP, attendance records fell and cell phones died in an 18-inning ACC Tournament classic five years ago.
Tuesday, the two teams squared off in a midweek game with nothing on the line except bragging rights in the Duel at the DBAP. The game was a nonconference tilt, as the two teams will get together in Raleigh in two weeks for a three-game series that counts in the standings.
The crowd of 6,799 was about 40 percent smaller than the ACC Tourney showdown, but it was loud and rowdy, thanks to some pregame tailgating in downtown parking lots near the stadium. It was also larger than any Tuesday night crowd the Bulls have drawn at the stadium since Aug. 1 of last year.
The crowd, estimated at about 70/30 in favor of the Wolfpack and including NC State luminaries such as Scotty McCreery and Dereck Whittenberg, went home happy after the No. 2 Pack beat the No. 8 Heels 8-3.
State jumped out to an early lead thanks to a two-run second-inning homer by Patrick Bailey, his fifth on the season. The Pack added runs in the fourth and fifth to extend the lead to 5-1.
Carolina wouldn’t go quietly, however. The Heels loaded the bases in the eighth inning, and a two-run single by Ashton McGee brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate. Reliever Kent Klyman ended the threat when he struck out Cody Roberts.
“I’m proud of our team getting back to 5-3,” UNC coach Mike Fox said.
State added some insurance in the top of the ninth on a three-run home run by Evan Edwards.
“That was huge,” NC State coach Elliott Avent said. “That was the big blow.”
Edwards became the third State player to reach double-digits in home runs on the season, joining Brett Kinneman (13) and Will Wilson (10). He went 3-for-5 on the day, scoring twice.
The blast came against UNC reliever Brett Daniels, who had been sixth in the country in ERA. He hadn’t allowed an earned run in his last five outings, and Tuesday was the first time all season that he’d given up multiple runs.
“We left the ball up, and that was pretty much the game,” Fox said. “I thought State just beat us (in) every phase of the game.”
State moved to 29-7 on the season and has two weeks to brag before the rematch.
“It’s not about (rivalries),” said Avent. “It’s about winning games, staying with what we’re doing and trying to get where we want to go.”