Runs are hard to come by lately against the N.C. State men's baseball team and the women's softball team. The men extended their hold-the-other-guys-scoreless streak to 24 innings Tuesday before finally yielding a run in a 6-1 win at Stetson. The women haven't allowed a run in 16 innings after blanking Radford 7-0 and 4-0 in a doubleheader. The softball team has allowed a total of 12 runs during its 14-game winning streak.
It would be nice for the Pack nine to mix in a few more double-digit hit total laughers, but the team does not seem to be built for runs in bunches. They will take a walk, take advantage of defensive mistakes, and get enough timely hitting to support a stingy pitching staff that lowered its ERA to 1.89 down in Deland, Florida. State (14-2) turned just seven hits into six runs thanks to drawing eight walks and taking one for the team. Bubby Riley took the hit by pitch and collected three of the team's walks. Jake Fincher and Jake Armstrong took care of the timely hitting. Fincher had a two-run single in the third and Armstrong contributed a sac fly later in the inning and a two-out double in the fifth that put the Pack up 5-1. A two-out error helped the Pack tack on their last insurance run in the eighth.
Patrick Peterson got the nod on the bump and labored through four innings, allowing four hits and walking three but limiting the damage to one run. His six strikeouts helped him out of some jams. Andrew Woeck (3-0) followed and got the win since Peterson didn't go five innings. Woeck was deserving, as he held Stetson (5-12) hitless through 3.2 innings while also striking out six. Will Gilbert worked a third of an inning and Joe O'Donnell finished things off with a scoreless ninth. The quartet held the Hatters to 0-for-12 with men on base.
The Pack defense played errorless ball; they've made just 14 errors in 16 games compared to 35 from their opponents. The errorless game was especially impressive given an odd lineup that featured Brett Austin going Biggio and playing second base rather than catcher. In addition to Logan Ratledge, Andrew Knizner was out of the lineup again at third base. He was lifted early in the first game of the Notre Dame series and hasn't been seen since. Even a prolonged examination of their twitters could not unearth the cause of their absence.
The women's streak eclipses last year's 13-win run that started with an 11-8 walk-off over North Carolina on senior day, included an ACC championship, and ended in the NCAA tournament.
Despite the emergence of Courtney Mirabella as a serviceable #2 behind Emily Weiman, Weiman went the distance in both shutouts against Radford (4-12). She needed just 161 pitches to complete 14 scoreless frames, or an average of 11.5 pitches per inning. She yielded just five total hits between the two games and struck out 11.
Molly Hutchinson was the offensive star for State (15-6), matching the school record for RBI in a game with six in the opener. She went granny in the game, her sixth overall homer, to stay one ahead of teammate Renada Davis, who went 3-for-3 with her fifth round-tripper of the season. Hutchinson added a double and another RBI in game two. Kirsty Grant was a perfect 3-for-3 on the day and scored thrice. Hutchinson, who is just a freshwoman, also has the team lead in RBI (16) and slugging percentage (.714). Grant, who has shared catching duties with Hutchinson while also seeing time in the outfield, is a perfect 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts.
After running their home record to 11-0 in the doubleheader, the women head south this weekend, joining the men in Tallahassee for a three-game set with Florida State. The Seminole softball team is 10th in the most recent *rankings. Florida State is ranked second in baseball. The Pack are seventh. I'm going to be logging a lot of time on the Ocho this weekend.
*Postscript rant: Blue bias? UNC has one vote for the top 25 despite an 11-10 overall record, while the defending ACC champs that went 3-1 against the Heels last year aren't even in the ORV. I'm guessing that one voter comes to her or his senses after the Heels were crushed by Campbell today. Also, UNC lost to USC-Upstate, a team State swept in a doubleheader. SMH.