Carlos Rodon bounced back from a string of rough outings to shut down one of the nation's top offenses, going the distance Saturday to lead N. C. State to a 6-2 win over Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Rodon's fellow preseason all-American, Trea Turner, homered and became the program's all-time leader in stolen bases as the Pack (31-10, 13-7) clinched their first series win against the Yellow Jackets (27-12, 11-9) since 2001.
Thirteen games ago, the Pack were 18-10 overall and 4-7 in league play. They looked like they were on the bubble to make the ACC tournament, much less the NCAA tournament. Thirteen straight wins later, including nine in conference play, and the Pack have forged a tie with Florida State and Clemson atop the Atlantic Division standings and seem like a sure bet to not only make the baseball big dance, but also to host a regional. The most impressive part of the streak is that the Pack came from behind in the first eight ACC games they won during the run, but an efficient Rodon made certain that no drama would be necessary in game two of the series in Atlanta.
The sophomore left hander scattered eight hits, all singles, did not walk or hit a batter, and fanned 10. He entered the contest having walked 27 batters and hit nine in 51.1 innings, but he did not add to either total as he lowered his ERA from 4.91 to 4.48.
Rodon got all of the offense he would need thanks to a two-out rally in the top of the third. With Turner on second with two down in the inning, the white hot Tarran Senay plated the game's first run with a single. Brett Williams followed with another single to put runners on the corners and then stole second base, setting the stage for Grant Clyde's clutch, two-run single on a 1-2 offering from Tech starter Dusty Isaacs.
Every Pack starter had at least one hit except for Logan Ratledge, and Clyde, Turner, Williams, Jake Fincher and Brett Austin each had two hits. Clyde, Turner, and Senay, who also coaxed a walk, all drove in two runs. The Pack totaled 13 hits but left 10 men on base or game two's final score would have more closely resembled the 13-4 blowout from game one.
Turner singled in Jake Armstrong in the sixth to plate the Pack's fourth run of the game and then stole his 17th base of the season. The swipe brought his career total to 74, surpassing Tom Sergio for the most career steals in program history. Turner's solo shot came in the Pack's two-run eighth inning. His 2-for-4 effort raised his season average to .426; the single-season program record for batting average, set by Chris Cammack in 1969, is .429.
Tech's top power hitters, Zane Evans and Daniel Palka, who have each hit 11 home runs this season, have both gone just 1-for-8 in the series so far and Evans has struck out six times.
Freshman Brad Stone will toe the rubber Sunday at 1 p.m. as the Pack try for their third consecutive sweep against an ACC foe. After a midweek game with Davidson, the Pack will host UNC next weekend. The Tarheels are also riding a 13-game winning streak, which matches the Pack for the longest active streak in the nation.
N. C. State's women's softball team is also surging, having won 11 of its last 13 games to move into a tie for third place in the conference standings. The Lady Pack (25-18-1, 9-7) mauled Virginia (18-24, 3-14) by a combined score of 20-1 in Saturday's twin bill from Charlottesville.
Renada Davis had a pair of solo shots in game one, pushing her ever-growing, school-record total to 20 home runs on the season. Davis had four hits and scored four runs on the day. Scout Albertson got out the rye bread and mustard in game two, hitting the team's fourth grand slam of the season, which is a new program record.
The Pack women played errorless defense in the double header behind staff ace Emily Weiman, who worked both halves of the twin bill to push her win total to 23. Weiman totaled 13 innings (rather than 14, since game two was halted by the mercy rule), surrendering six hits, one earned run, and three walks while fanning 11. Her season ERA stands at 2.03, and she has completed 34 of her 40 starts.
The ladies close out the series tomorrow at noon. They have a midweek matchup with Elon before travelling to Chestnut Hill to conclude the regular season. Boston College is just 11-29 and has managed only a pair of conference victories. If the Pack can win out, they will finish the regular season with 30 wins and a 13-7 mark in league play. Coupled with a strong RPI thanks to an aggressive non-conference schedule, that win total should be more than enough to ensure that the ladies return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.