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NC State Baseball

Butterworth Walks Wolfpack Off Against Homer-Happy Heels

April 18, 2024

NC State (21-14, 11-8 ACC) opened its series against No. 11 North Carolina (29-9, 14-5 ACC) Thursday evening at Doak Field and took the victory in dramatic fashion, 9-8.

Brandon Butterworth came to bat with one away in the bottom of the ninth inning against Matt Poston (2-2, 5.82 ERA) with the game tied at eight apiece. After nearly getting hit by the penultimate pitch of the at-bat, the Monroe, N.C. native drilled the 2-1 offering over the wall in left field for the win-sealing home run.

Sam Highfill started on the mound for the Wolfpack and struck out four batters but left the game after giving up four runs on five hits and two walks over 3-1/3 innings. Shane Van Dam followed with 3-2/3 innings of work, fanning five while surrendering three runs, two earned, on seven hits and one walk. Derrick Smith (3-0, 6.88 ERA) succeeded Van Dam and picked up the win after two innings of relief in which he allowed just one run on one hit and one walk with a pair of strikeouts.

The Tar Heels fired the opening salvo in the top of the first when Casey Cook lined a solo home run over the right-field wall. The Wolfpack wasted little time responding as a two-run single by Jacob Cozart drove Eli Serrano, III and Garrett Pennington home to make it a 2-1 lead for State.

After the Pack left the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, North Carolina regained the lead in the top of the third inning. Anthony Donofrio reached base with a one-out triple to right-center field. Vance Honeycutt and Cook hit back-to-back home runs immediately after for a three-run swing that made it a 4-2 advantage for the Tar Heels.

Alec Makarewicz immediately halved that lead in the home half of the third inning with his 15th homer of the season. After walks to Cozart and Butterworth, Chase Nixon tied the game with a base hit to drive Cozart home. State would snatch the lead back on a fielder’s choice by Luke Nixon that allowed Butterworth to cross the plate.

After leaving the bases loaded in the fourth inning, the Heels tied the game in the fifth as Parks Harber drilled a solo home run to left-center field. The stalemate would hold until the bottom of the sixth. Pennington and Josh Hogue would reach base on back-to-back, one-out singles. Two batters later, Cozart crushed a three-run shot to right field, his seventh home run of the season, to make it an 8-5 ballgame, capping off a five-RBI evening for the NC State catcher.

Alberto Osuna chipped the Pack’s lead to two with a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning, Carolina’s fifth home run of the game. Alex Madera kept the scoring going later in the frame as he drove Gavin Gallaher home with a base hit. One inning later, a sacrifice fly by Harber plated Donofrio to tie the game at eight apiece, leading to Butterworth’s heroics in the bottom of the ninth.

The Wolfpack will look to secure the series victory against the Tar Heels on Friday, April 19. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Butterworth Walks Wolfpack Off Against Homer-Happy Heels

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