N.C. State's ACC and NCAA tournament hopes took yet another hit Saturday as host Clemson took advantage of shoddy defense and poor fundamentals to clobber the Pack 6-1, sending them to their 10th straight conference loss.
Kyle Cavanaugh gave the Pack (17-12, 3-10) a short-lived 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth with a two-out single scoring Bubby Riley, but the Pack gave it back and more in the bottom of the inning. Garrett Boulware led off the fourth for the Tigers (20-9, 9-3) and lofted a lazy fly to left off the end of his bat. Riley broke back on the ball and then compounded his mistake by diving for it even though he had no shot at a catch, playing an out into a double.
Steven Duggar drove Boulware in with a single, and Duggar took second when Carlos Rodon failed to get into position to back up on the throw home, which, despite being on target, skipped past Brett Austin. The gifted base allowed Duggar to score the first of three unearned runs off of Rodon; Steve Wilkerson plated him on a two-out hit.
Duggar reached on an infield single with one out in the sixth and stole second without a throw as Rodon paid him no mind at first. It was one of four easy steals for the Tigers. Duggar came home on another clutch two-out hit from Wilkerson that bounced through the left side. Trea Turner had no shot at an out, but he did have a shot at keeping it on the infield and preventing the run but couldn't be bothered with laying out. Turner made his first of two errors on a routine groundball on the next play, but Rodon escaped with no further damage.
Turner's second error and a gaff from Logan Ratledge opened the floodgates in the eighth, allowing the Tigers to tack on three more runs, just one of which was earned. Rodon worked eight innings, yielding 11 hits, six runs, and three earned runs against the ACC's best offense. He didn't walk or hit anybody and fanned five. His fastball was topping out at 91 miles per hour (if the stadium gun is to be believed) and his slider lacked its typical bite, but he gutted out a decent outing considering Clemson starts eight batters hitting over .300 and he got no support from his defense (including his own inability to hold runners or get in position to back up).
Matthew Crownover went eight innings for Clemson and allowed just three hits. He struck out seven and walked two. Crownover benefitted from five infield pop outs and perhaps set a league record for fist pumps after strikeouts, including about 11 after fanning the last batter he faced, Turner, on three pitches, the last of which was a head-high fastball that Turner threw his bat at in a failed attempt to check his swing. Crownover set down the last 13 men he faced in order.
The misery recommences tomorrow at three p.m. If you are strong of stomach or have a lot of alcohol on hand, you can tune in on ESPNU.