Pack on Verge of Sweep

USA TODAY Sports

The Pack are a win away from having the inside track on a conference tournament spot.

After both enjoyed early success against nonconference opponents, Logan Jernigan and Brad Stone appeared poised to join Carlos Rodon to give N.C. State a formidable weekend rotation. Both fell on hard times in ACC play, with Jernigan bouncing back and forth from the pen to the rotation and Stone relegated to the bullpen full time. They got a moment of redemption Saturday night. Backed by a 14-hit attack, Jernigan and Stone combined to hold Wake Forest to just two runs in a 10-2 Wolfpack win.

The Pack took the first two of the series to pull within a game of the ninth-place Deacons in the conference standings. The Pack is a half game back of 10th-place Pittsburgh; the Panthers are tied 1-1 with Maryland as of this posting.

Jernigan was plagued by his characteristic wildness against the Deacons, walking three and hitting a couple of batters in five innings, but he managed to wriggle out of trouble to hold his opponent to two tallies in five frames. Stone went the final four innings for his first save of the season. He too had some control trouble, walking three but escaping without any damage. Wake Forest left 11 men on base.

Logan Ratledge, who has his average all the way up to .291 after a slow start, led the Pack at the plate with a four-for-five day. He scored a run and drove one in. Preston Palmeiro was a perfect three-for-three with a run and an RBI, pushing his season average to .318. Brett Austin also had a big day that included his third home run and three RBI.

Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the third, the Pack put up a four spot and cruised from there. Garrett Suggs got on thanks to an error to start the inning and went to third on Trea Turner's double. Ratledge reached on an infield single and both runners scored thanks to an error by Wake shortstop Keniry Conor, his second of the inning. Austin followed a batter later with a two-run blast.

Conor made three errors in the game that led to two unearned runs. The Deacons have allowed eight unearned runs in being outscored 19-3 so far in the series. Wake is just 2-10 in its last eight league games to drop to 12-14 in ACC play. State sits at 11-15. The series concludes Monday night at six p.m. in a game that will be broadcast on EPNU.

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