RALEIGH, NC - Despite a solid performance from freshman pitcher Cory Folk and timely hitting from a duo of sophomores, the Buffalo Bulls fell short of a marquee win Tuesday afternoon, losing on the road 7-5 to ACC foe North Carolina State.
Folk, making his first career start in just his fourth appearance this season, held the Wolfpack offense hitless through 4.1 innings of work, striking out two and inducing a double play to help his cause. The Bulls' offense was held in check as well in the early going, but cracked the scoreboard first thanks again to timely hitting.
Andrew Smietana hit an infield single with one out in the third inning and moved to second on a groundout from the next batter. The team then rallied, loading the bases with a walk to Matt Pollock and a hit by pitch from Daniel Scahill. Sophomore Alex Baldock then strode to the plate looking to capitalize with two outs. He laced a double to left center field, scoring all three of the runners and providing the team a shot in the arm it would need against its quality opponent.
The team added a cushion in the very next inning, with Baldock drawing a one-out single followed right after with a home run from classmate Tom Murphy to make the score 5-0 Buffalo, his third home run in the past five games. In the bottom half of the frame, Folk gave up his first hit with one out in the fifth, but that would be all for the inning.
Buffalo's bats would go silent from the fifth inning on, while NC State responded with a comeback that began with two runs on a double in the sixth to cut the lead to 5-2. Heading in to the bottom of the eighth, Folk allowed the first two runners to reach and was pulled for the day after throwing seven innings and striking out five while allowing only four hits. Kevin Hughes came in as relief and the Wolfpack struck fast, getting an RBI single immediately before the bases were loaded up. NC State's junior first baseman Harold Riggins, fresh off a two-run double in his previous at-bat, hit Hughes' pitch to out center field for a grand slam home run, moving the home team ahead for the first time in the game, 7-5. The Bulls went down in order in the top of the ninth to seal the deal.
The team will have little time to relax before it's back to the diamond, as it will travel to face East Carolina tomorrow evening. First pitch is set for 6 pm, and live stats will be available through ECU's schedule page. A link is available through BuffaloBulls.com.