NC State hung a 13-spot in the seventh on Wake Forest Friday night in the series opener en route to a 19-1 dumping on the Deacs. Preston Palmeiro had an RBI double and a granny in the inning as part of a three-hit, six-RBI evening, and Brian Brown continued his stellar freshman campaign with six innings of one-run ball.
NC State moved to 28-18 overall and evened its mark in the difficult ACC at 12-12. The Pack probably needs to win both of their remaining two series, this one at Wake and the following weekend at home against ACC leader Louisville, to get off the bubble and into dancing position. Sadly those 17 extra runs can't be spread over those remaining five games, but this was sure as hell one resounding step in the right direction.
Andrew Knizner (3-for-4, 3runs), Bubby Riley (3-for-5, 2 runs, 4 RBI), Chance Shepard (3-for-6, run, 4 RBI), and Brock Deatherage (3-for-6, 2 runs, RBI) joined Palmeiro in the Pack three-hit parade. The team banged out 21 in total. Travis Orwig went three shutout innings, striking out five, in relief of Brown for perhaps the most generous save ever. You go three, you get a save, score be damned.
Palmeiro's outburst gives him an impressive 47 RBI in 46 games. Brown reduced his ERA to a team-low 2.03. And Scott Manea remains perfect. He had a pinch-hit single to improve to 2-for-2 on the year.
NC State surged to a 3-0 first-inning lead against defending ACC champion and #1 seed Florida State in the semifinals of the ACC tournament, but shoddy defense ultimately led to the Pack's collapse. The Noles came all the way back and then some, winning 11-4 thanks in large part to four Pack errors. It was just the third game State has dropped all year after scoring in the first; two have been against FSU.
Renada Davis extended her hitting streak to 12 games, the team's longest of the season, and Tyler Ross took the team lead in long balls with her 14th in the disappointing loss.
Pittsburgh, which didn't even make the tournament a year ago, shutout North Carolina 4-0 to make the final against Florida State.
The Pack, on the proverbial easy street with an RPI in the 30s, will most certainly make the NCAAs, but they lost out on a chance to perhaps improve their draw with a second-day exit from the tournament, and the team will have to shore up its defense—they made eight errors in the tournament—to make a run in whatever regional they land in.
PACK TAKES SERIES
The Pack took game two in the series and have now held Wake Forest, the ACC leader in team slugging percentage, to just two earned runs in 18 innings. The Pack didn't save much offense for game two after Friday's explosion, but got homers from Brock Deatherage (the first of his career) and Joe Dunand to forge a 2-2 tie. Bubby Riley's RBI single in the top of the ninth held up as the game winner in the 3-2 final.
Elliott Avent shook up the weekend rotation, giving USC-East transfer Curt Britt just his second start of the season. Britt did not disappoint, working seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned), and fanning six. Will Gilbert got the win in relief and Tommy DeJuneas nailed it down with his fifth save.
The Pack have won eight in a row and sit 42nd in the Warren Nolan RPI. At 13-12 in league play, the Pack are tied with North Carolina for fifth in the conference standings and would avoid a play-in game if the conference tournament started today. State and Wake take Mother's Day off before concluding their series Monday evening in a game that will be televised on ESPNU.
Gopack.com has highlights aplenty here.