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Boston College muzzles Wolfpack: Pack Nine shutout twice in weekend series

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Welp. This was unexpected.

NC State Athletics Communications
NC State Athletics Communications

NC State sandwiched a couple of shutout losses around a 3-2 win in dropping its opening ACC series to Boston College. Sunday's rubber match featured the painful brand of fail Pack brethren have become accustomed to, as State loaded the bases with none out for the heart of the order in the bottom of the ninth but failed to score. The Pack stranded 13 in the 1-0 loss. The Eagles won the opener in a laugher, 7-0.

The Pack foiled Elliott Avent's small-ball strategy in the series finale by failing twice to execute a sacrifice bunt. After Stephen Pitarra led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, Josh McLain whiffed at a bunt attempt to get down in the count 1-2 before fisting a soft single into centerfield. Leadoff man Brock Deatherage followed and bunted foul before working a walk to load the bases. It seemed that failing to successfully play for one to tie would lead the Pack to a win, but Andrew Knizner, Preston Palmeiro, and Chance Shepard followed with weak contact and the Pack could muster neither tie nor win.

Knizner flew out to very shallow right, Palmeiro popped up on the infield, and Shepard tapped a bouncer to third to end it.

BC RF/closer Donovan Casey started the ninth but departed after loading the bases without recording an out. Skipper Mike Gambino then went righty-lefty-righty to get the last three outs. John Nicklas got Knizner, Dan Metzdorf popped up Palmeiro, and Bobby Skogsbergh induced Shepard's game-ending groundout.

Casey, though he was fortunate to escape, Nicklas, and Jacob Stevens, who threw the first 4.2 innings of the shutout, working around five walks, are among five BC hurlers who have made at least three appearances this year without allowing an earned run. The upstart Eagles (12-3, 2-1) dropped their team ERA to 2.67 after holding the Pack (13-4, 1-2) to three runs in three games.

Johnny Piedmonte, making his first start since opening day, was the tough-luck loser for the Pack. He went 5.1 innings, allowing just two hits and a run while fanning six. The 6-8 righty seemed to tire in the sixth, as he walked a couple of batters around a groundout. He was yanked in favor of Kyle Smith, who promptly walked both batters he faced to force in the game's lone run. State has not scratched out a single run in Piedmonte's starts this season and has now been shut out three times.

Brian Brown was excellent in Saturday's game, earning the win with 6.2 innings of two-run ball. He fanned nine. Will Gilbert added two shutout frames and Tommy DeJuneas got the last out for his fourth save. Knizner (solo HR) and Shepard (two-run 2B) provided the offense.

Friday was just a nightmare all around, as State pitchers allowed 17 baserunners while the defense coughed up five unearned runs in the 7-0 loss. Mike King, another stout Eagle hurler who improved to 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA, went the first seven innings of the shutout. Skogsbergh got four strikeouts over the final two frames to finish it off.

The Pack, in the midst of an 11-game home stand, will try to get right against Indiana State in a two-game midweek series taking place Tuesday and Wednesday. Notre Dame comes to Raleigh this weekend; all three games in the Irish series will be available on The Ocho.