Pack Broom Hokies, Sweep Back into Contention

Jamie Squire

N. C. State has won five of its last six conference games.

N. C. State donned their "Don't ever give up jerseys" Sunday, and perhaps those of us, myself included, who have been critical of the team for failing to live up to preseason top-10 hype were too quick to give up on them. The Pack capped a series sweep of Virginia Tech with a 7-3 win in Sunday's finale, and they have won seven of eight games since Trea Turner returned to the lineup.

Not giving up was certainly a theme all weekend, as N. C. State (24-10, 7-8) needed 14 innings to win Friday's opener and trailed at some point during each of the three games, including falling behind 2-0 in Sunday's series capper. Grant Clyde, who had six hits in the series, started the game three comeback with a leadoff double in the third. Clyde scored on a Logan Ratledge single to shave the first run off the Virginia Tech (21-12, 7-8) lead. By the end of the frame, a sacrifice fly from Brett Austin and an RBI single from Brian Adametz had given the Pack a 3-2 lead.

The Hokies opened the seventh with back-to-back singles off Pack starter Brad Stone, putting runners on the corners with no outs. A sac fly knotted the score at 3-3, but Ryan Wilkins came on to put out the fire with a little help from Austin, who cut down Mark Zagunis in his attempt to steal second base. Stone worked six and a third innings, the longest outing of his career, and yielded three earned runs on four hits, a walk, and a hit batter. He struck out five.

Turner ignited the game-winning, four-run rally in the eighth with a leadoff single. Terran Senay, who has hit in nine straight games, plated Turner with the go-ahead run. A pair of Hokie errors in the frame led to all four runs being unearned.

Wilkins, who surrendered just one hit, went the final two and two third innings to notch his team-leading fourth win of the season. Wilkins has allowed just 17 base runners in 26.1 innings on the season, and opponents are hitting just .128 off of him.

With a 2.42 ERA, Wilkins is part of a rubber-armed pen that features five relievers who have made at least 11 appearances this season. They all have solid numbers: Chris Overman, who struck out six in four and two third innings in Friday's marathon, has not allowed an earned run in 14.2 innings this year and has a team-leading four saves; Grant Sasser is 2-0 with a 0.40 ERA in a team-high 18 appearances; Josh Easley has registered three wins and sports a sparkling 1.80 ERA in 14 appearances; Andrew Woeck has an impressive 29-7 strikeout to walk ratio to go with a pair of wins and a 3.66 ERA in 16 outings. Overman, Sasser, and Easley have all struck out more than a batter per inning.

The Pack will try for another sweep Tuesday evening at the Doak when they host East Carolina for a 6 p.m. first pitch. The Pack handled the Pirates 6-1 in Greenville on April 2nd in the first of two meetings between the non-conference rivals. Wilkins drew his lone start of the season in the first matchup and worked five perfect frames.

ACC Standings:

Atlantic Division

Overall Record

ACC Record

Florida State

27-5

10-5

Clemson

21-11

9-6

N. C. State

24-10

8-7

Wake Forest

17-16

4-10

Maryland

16-15

4-11

Boston College *

5-25

0-14

*Not good at sports

Coastal Division

Overall Record

ACC Record

North Carolina

29-2

12-2

Virginia

29-3

11-3

Georgia Tech

23-9

9-6

Duke

19-14

8-7

Virginia Tech

21-12

7-8

Miami

21-14

6-9

With a likely sweep coming this weekend against Boston College in Chestnut Hill (hopefully #ncstateshit did not read past the standings), N. C. State is not only looking to be solidly in the ACC tournament despite getting off to a 3-6 start, but also still has a chance to put heat on Florida State for the Atlantic Division title. The Seminoles host surprising Duke this weekend (Chris Pollard can coach, btw), and they still have to play at Virginia, at home against Clemson, and, most importantly, on the road against the Pack. Mike Martin's crew is just 6-4 away from Tallahassee.

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