Baseball Rights Ship with Pair of Midweek Wins

Quit all that getting on base, Finch, or I'll bat you last! - USA TODAY Sports

Let's hope they're not just rearranging the deck chairs. Meanwhile, the softball team is looking good for a second straight NCAA bid.

The box score wasn't pretty, but despite getting outhit 11-8 and allowing another four base runners via walks and hit batters, N.C. State sneaked past East Carolina at the Doak Wednesday, winning 3-2 by stranding 10 Pirates on the sacks. Catcher Brett Austin picked a runner off second base and the Pack turned a pair of double plays to quell potential Pirate plundering. The narrow escape made it two straight in-state midweek wins, as the Pack won a wild one in Buies Creek Tuesday.

Pack skipper Elliott Avent appears to really want Logan Jernigan to figure things out, as he ran him out to start against ECU (17-12) even though he took a weekend turn just three days prior. Things did not go well. Again. Jernigan allowed eight of the 17 batters he faced to reach base and uncorked a wild pitch en route to running his pitch count to 70 in just 3.2 innings. Miraculously, he escaped unscathed with an assist from Ryan Williamson. The freshman lefty spelled Jernigan in the fourth with two on and two out and made things harder by hitting the first batter he faced, Hunter Allen, with an 0-2 pitch, but Williamson left the bases drunk by fanning Dylan Brown on a 3-2 pitch. The clutch escape preserved an early 1-0 lead.

Preston Palmeiro, who may have earned himself some additional starts at first base with a 3-for-3 performance, led off the third inning with a triple and scored one batter later on an Austin sac fly to open the scoring. Palmeiro's two-out single scored Andrew Knizner to extend the lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth. Austin added a Little League home run (a triple plus an error that allowed him to score) in the seventh to make it 3-0.

That third run turned out to be the difference, as Andrew Woeck came unglued in the ninth. What Woeck was doing back in the closer's role after throwing 74 pitches Saturday as a starter is anyone's guess, but thankfully Will Gilbert was able to get the final out after the Pirates got four hits and two runs off Woeck in two thirds of an inning. Gilbert's out gave him his first career save. Williamson picked up his first career win with an impressive line: 4.1 IP, H, HB, 0 BB, 0 R, 7 K. The next run the freshman lefty allows will be the first he's allowed as a collegian.

All 11 hits allowed against the Pirates were singles, and the Pack went one better in Buies Creek, allowing 12 hits, all singles, this time in a wacky 12-inning affair. It's not often that you see a seven-run 12th inning, but that's what State used to secure a 9-2 win over the Camels (19-10).

Campbell stoked the fire with an error in the 12th before throwing gasoline on it by wild pitching in a pair of runs and walking in another one. Trea Turner finally said "Enough of this!" with a bases-clearing triple that pushed the lead to 9-2.

Carlos Rodon started both games at DH and went a combined 3-for-9. Logan Ratledge (.276 OB%) batted second in both games and Jake Fincher (.383 OB%) batted ninth. Because Avent.

The Peterson twins somewhat eerily posted bookend 68-pitch outings, with Patrick going the first 5.1 innings and Eric working the last five to pick up his second win as a member of the Pack. Together they allowed 10 hits but just one walk and no runs. Unfortunately Jon Olczak had a second straight rough outing, coughing up the lead in the seventh with a little help from a throwing error on Jake Armstrong (only one of the two runs Olczak allowed was earned). Olczak didn't allow a run in his first eight outings but has surrendered eight in his last two.

For what it's worth, the Camels entered the week 88th in the official NCAA RPI, two spots ahead of the Pack, so this qualifies as a good road win. ECU checks in at 122nd. Even if these were not exactly top-50, résumé-building wins, the team has to feel better about itself heading into a must-stop-sucking series at Clemson. State has dropped nine straight in ACC play and cannot afford another sweep if it hopes to solidify its shaky postseason aspirations.

***

Over on the softball diamond, Renada Davis and Kirsty Grant went back-to-back to open the home half of the first frame. State managed a mere two additional runs the rest of the way, but Emily Weiman made it hold up, going the distance for her 18th win in the 4-2 final.

Raven Lee homered for the Camels (22-18) but that was the only earned run Weiman surrendered. The other run was unearned due to Davis's 12th error of the season at shortstop. Weiman's line: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, ER, HB, BB, 4 K.

The Pack ladies are on a 20-4 run after a 1-6 start and entered the week 30th in the NCAA's official RPI rankings, making a second straight trip to the NCAA tournament likely. They travel to Syracuse for a three-game set this weekend.

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