Toke’s first career home run gets Pirates the win over No. 23 NC State

After being swept in Friday’s doubleheader to open the season, the Pirates earned an 8-6 win over No. 23 North Carolina State on Sunday in Three Bridges, N.C.

Coming off a freshman season where he batted .321, but with no home runs, Matt Toke smacked a three-run home run in the fifth inning to give the Pirates a lead they would not relinquish.

Photo via SHU Athletics

The game started with the Pirates storming onto the scene with back-to-back hits by Christian Del Castillo and Mike Alescio in the first inning. An NC State error and an Al Molina sac-fly put the Pirates ahead 2-0 early, and Casey Dana stretched the lead further to 3-0, with his first college RBI on a double.

The Pirates put Rick DeVito on the hill for his first collegiate start against the Wolfpack’s freshman David Harrison. The Staten Island, N.Y. native pitched 2.1 innings, allowing 4 earned runs on 4 hits and 3 walks. The sophomore DeVito had 3 strikeouts, all of which came in the first two innings.

The Wolfpack’s first two batters in the third inning reached base via walks, and a Brett Kinneman double scored both to start the six-run inning for NC State. A Josh McLain homerun to left field would spell the end of the day for DeVito.

Freshman Ryan McLinskey came on in relief of DeVito and closed out the inning, but not before allowing two hits and two unearned runs, as the Wolfpack turned the game around and took a three-run lead of their own.

Sebastiano Santorelli led off the fourth inning with a solo home run, immediately cutting into the Wolfpack lead which was then only two.

In the fifth inning, the Pirates took the lead back for good, as Ryan Ramiz walked and Mike Alescio singled to set up Toke. Toke’s three-run home run gave the Pirates a 7-6 lead, and back-to-back doubles by Al Molina and Santorelli helped the Pirates take an 8-6 lead.

Seton Hall’s bullpen was its real strength down the stretch, pitching 6.2 innings with 8 strikeouts, 3 hits, 5 walks and no earned runs.

The win gives the Pirates a 1-2 record after their first weekend on the diamond. Seton Hall will head back down to the Carolinas next weekend, as it will play in the USC Upstate-Wofford Tournament in Spartanburg, S.C.

Connor Hester can be reached at connor.hester@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @connor_hester31.