The Pack fell to 33-11 (14-8 in the ACC) while the Tar Heels improved to 41-3 overall and 19-2 in conference play.
North Carolina got going early. The first four Tar Heel batters reached safely, culminated by a three-run homer from third baseman Colin Moran.
Wolfpack starting pitcher Ryan Wilkins then struck out first baseman Cody Stubbs for the first out of the game. It would also be the only out that Wilkins recorded on the evening. After the next batter shortstop Michael Russell singled to left, N.C. State head coach Elliott Avent summoned lefthander D.J. Thomas into the game.
Thomas struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Thomas went a career-best 5.2 innings, yielding three runs (one earned) and five hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
“D.J. (Thomas) was outstanding,” Avent said. “We thought he had a chance to win the game.”
With the loss, Wilkins fell to 5-2 on the campaign. North Carolina starter Kent Emanuel improved to 9-1 on the season, going eight innings and giving up one run on seven hits with nine strikeouts and three walks.
State had a golden opportunity in the second inning to get back into the game. Trailing 5-0, the Pack had the bases loaded and two outs with second baseman Trea Turner at the plate. Turner struck out swinging to end the threat. The Preseason All-American went 0-3 at the plate with two walks and two stolen bases, ending a 13-game hitting streak.
“I thought the first two innings did not decide the game,” Turner said. “But to the people in the stands it kind of seemed that way.
“I could feel that.”
Game two of the series is Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. with Carlos Rodon (4-2, 4.48 ERA) on the hill for N.C. State. He will be facing right-handed sophomore Benton Moss (7-0, 2.81 ERA).