NC State's Patrick Bailey (left) celebrates his homer vs. UNC (Aaron Fitt)

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Power Bats, ‘Pen Loom Large For NCSU

At The Ballpark

DURHAM, N.C. — The state of North Carolina is enjoying a banner year in college baseball — maybe as good a year as the state has ever had. In our updated field of 64 this week, we project four teams from the state to host regionals: NC State, Duke, North Carolina and East Carolina. Four hosts in North Carolina would be unprecedented, but there’s a very real chance that it could happen.

On Tuesday, all four of those host candidates were in action in Durham. Duke hosted East Carolina at its Jack Coombs Field on its campus, and the 12th-ranked Pirates handed the ninth-ranked Blue Devils their first midweek loss of the season, 9-2. The Blue Devils couldn’t play on their primary home field — the Durham Bulls Athletic Park — because No. 4 NC State was taking on No. 15 North Carolina at the DBAP, in a nonconference showdown that was originally slated for 2014 but was washed out by rain.

While this showdown didn’t quite match the 11,000-plus crowd that watched the last meeting between UNC and NC State at the DBAP (back in the 2013 ACC tournament), it was still a great showcase for college baseball in the state, drawing 6,799 fans. The fans in red were more plentiful and more enthusiastic, and they walked away happy after the Wolfpack rode a pair of big home runs to an 8-3 victory.

“I think me and Mike Fox both talked about this game: This is about the fans, it’s about the state of North Carolina, the Triangle area, and what baseball is in this state. It’s for our players to play in this great ballpark, and it’s for the fans,” NC State coach Elliott Avent said. “The state of college baseball right now is the best it’s ever been by far, and it’s always been good.”


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