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Cards take series, set ACC wins mark

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The Pack defense came up lame in their series finale.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

NC State couldn't take the series against the nation's #2 team. Louisville capitalized on some atrocious defense to take an early lead and answered after the Pack came all the way back to tie it, winning 8-5 in the regular season finale for both programs. The Cards 25 ACC wins sets the league record in their first year in the league. Despite the loss, the Pack finished in the top six in the league and are guaranteed a spot in the ACC tournament.

The Pack took an early 1-0 lead on Andrew Knizner's solo shot, the first homer allowed by Ville starter Josh Rogers all season in over 70 innings pitched. But consecutive errors by Logan Ratledge and Ryne Willard with the bases loaded and two outs in the third allowed the Cards to take a 3-1 lead. It was a tough last home game for Ratledge, who grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in an 0-for-4 afternoon.

The Cards led 5-1 until Joe Dunand's two-run shot in the sixth, also off Rogers, brought the Pack to within two. Willard scratched out an infield hit and Dunand was hit by a pitch to put the Pack in business in the eighth. Chance Shepard moved Willard up 90 feet with deep flyout and a wild pitch plated him to pull the Pack within a run. Bubby Riley knotted it up with a single, stole second, but was left stranded with the potential winning run.

After coming all the way back, one might think that State would have had the momentum. Not so much. Tommy DeJuneas, who banged up a knee the night before and was said to be unavailable by Elliot Avent, came on to protect the tie and promptly imploded, hitting the first batter he faced before giving up a ringing double to Corey Ray. Nick Solak, who was hit by a pitch, was called out on the relay to the plate though he appeared to be safe. It didn't much matter, as Zach Lucas's suicide squeeze scored Ray easily, and DeJuneas's error on the play opened the floodgates for two more runs.

State managed to bring the tying run to the plate against imminently nasty Ville closer Zack Burdi, who sports an ERA below one, but Burdi got Willard on a 2-2 slider to end the game. Louisville's pen improved to a perfect 20-0 on the season.

State will begin ACC tournament play on Wednesday or Thursday at the home of the Durham Bulls.