Inside NC State’s Magical Ride, FSU’s Big WinColumns
• Inside NC State’s magical 19-1 start to the season, and the Wolfpack’s outlook going forward
• Florida State goes through some growing pains but hangs on for a gritty win
RALEIGH, N.C. — Florida State held a 7-1 lead in the sixth inning Sunday, and there was a sense of inevitability in the air at Doak Field. But it wasn’t a feeling that the Seminoles were going to cruise to victory. It felt like NC State was going to mount its furious comeback charge any minute now.
That’s what happens when a team starts the season 19-0 and makes a habit out of overcoming big deficits time after time. There was the Feb. 24 game at Coastal Carolina, when the Wolfpack trailed 6-2 after four innings and roared back to win 7-6 in 11 innings. There was the March 6 midweek game at NC Central, when NC State stormed back from an 8-1 hole after five innings to win 11-10 in 10 innings. A week later, the Pack trailed Charlotte 4-1 after seven innings before rallying for a 6-5 win. And of course there was this Saturday night against FSU, when NC State was down 8-5 in the eighth, then got a game-tying three-run homer from Brad Debo in the bottom of the eighth and won it 9-8 on Tyler McDonough’s walk-off single in the ninth. Entering Sunday, NC State had outscored its opponents by a mind-boggling 92-17 margin from the sixth inning on.
So nobody could have been surprised when NC State scored three runs in the sixth Sunday to get back into the ballgame, cutting FSU’s lead to 7-4. Everyone in the ballpark must have been thinking, Here it comes.
“We made that big inning, and I thought, ‘Here we go,’” NC State coach Elliott Avent said. “I’ll be honest with you, I looked at [associate head coach] Chris Hart when it was 7-4, and I said, ‘Florida State thinks we’re gonna win this game.’ He said, ‘I know.’ You could just tell. I think our guys did.”
For the final four innings, Florida State was holding on for dear life — and to its credit, it did hold on, handing NC State its first loss of the year, 7-5. But even in defeat, the Wolfpack showed off the incredible resilience and determination that has been the hallmark of the best start in program history.