Trea Turner had four hits and D.J. Thomas had a brilliant outing in relief of Andrew Woeck, who had his start shortened due to illness, to lead N.C. State to a 9-4 win over host Clemson. The Pack, which also got a homer from Andrew Knizner, snapped their 10-game ACC losing streak and won for the third time in four games overall.
Turner led off the first with a single, stole second, and scored all the way from second on a passed ball when Garrett Boulware couldn't locate the ball, staking the Pack (18-12, 4-10) to a short-lived 1-0 lead.
A two-out error by Logan Ratledge led to a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the inning, and it looked like more of the error-prone play that sank the Pack in the series opener would plague the Pack yet again, but the Tigers (20-10, 9-4) wouldn't manage another run, earned or otherwise, until the bottom of the ninth.
Thomas replaced the ailing Woeck with one out in the second and twirled 5.2 innings of shutout ball to pick up the win. He allowed just three singles and struck out two en route to lowering his season ERA to 1.31.
The Pack knotted the game at 2-2 on Knizner's fourth blast of the year in the sixth and took the lead on a two-out, two-strike Turner single up the middle in the seventh. Knizner also had a pair of doubles.
Whoopin' sticks were out in force in the ninth, as State exploded for six insurance runs to put the game away. Turner got the scoring started with another RBI single; he and Garrett Suggs came home on Brett Austin's rope double down the right field line. Jake Fincher brought home two more with a triple and scored after his aggressive slide into third jarred the ball loose from the Clemson third sacker.
Eric Peterson, who finished the game, was credited with his second save since he entered in the eighth when the lead was just a run. It's probably a good thing the Pack put up some comfort room runs, as Peterson was hit hard in the ninth, allowing a couple of hits and a couple of runs.
State, which hasn't issued a single walk to Clemson batters over the first two games, will try to win the series Monday evening at seven p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU. Expect to see Elliott Avent manning the third base coach's box, as he donned the helmet and coached from the field for the first time in many, many years today to try to spark the team's latent bats. Just don't ask Knizner to bunt, coach.
As disappointing as the season has been, State can get within spitting distance of at least making the play-in round of the ACC tournament with a series win. They are a half game behind Virgina Tech for 11th, two games behind Maryland for 10th, and two and a half games behind Duke and North Carolina for ninth. The winner of each division and the teams with the next four best conference records make the tournament. Seven-through-10 will play a one-game playoff to determine the last two teams in pool play.