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Chance Shepard, Pack pitching shine in Irish Classic

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And in other good news from the diamond, softball takes its first ACC series of the season.

John Moore/Getty Images

NC State finished up an unbeaten weekend in the Irish Classic with a 5-2 win over Bucknell Sunday. Chance Shepard took a day off from homering Saturday, ending his consecutive games with a homer streak at six, but beat #21 Alabama with a sacrifice fly. Shepard was back at it against the Bison, putting the Pack up 2-0 in the first with his seventh goner in eight games. The Pack have won seven straight and eight of nine.

Chance Shepard's younger brother Shane joined him with two hits in the game; led by Preston Palmeiro's 3-for-4 day, State banged out 13 hits.

On the mound, Joe O'Donnell improved to 2-0 despite a fairly pedestrian start. He gave up five hits and two earned runs in 5.1 innings. The bullpen was great behind him, starting with Cody Beckman's perfect 2.1 in relief. Kyle Smith and Will Gilbert combined for another perfect inning before Tommy DeJuneas hit a batter before getting the last out. In all, it was 4.1 hitless innings for the Pack pen.

The bullpen was again the story in the 2-1 win over the Crimson Tide. Brian Brown had a short but solid start, yielding a run in 4.1 innings. The pen put up 4.2 shutout frames behind him; Sean Adler was first to the bump and struck out three in 1.2 innings. Evan Brabrand fanned a pair in his inning and earned the win when Shepard put the Pack up with his sac fly. Gilbert worked out of trouble to blank the Tide for four outs, and DeJuneas got the save by getting the last two batters, including a swinging strikeout to end it.

Andrew Knizner scored Palmeiro, who had doubled, to account for State's first run.

After giving up at least five runs in each of their first five games, the Pack haven't allowed more than four tallies in any of their last seven. They yielded just four runs in three games in the Irish Classic, dropping the team ERA to 3.67. In contrast, Pack opponents have posted a 6.33 ERA.

It was a successful weekend in softball as well, as the ladies stormed back from a 5-0 deficit on Sunday to take the rubber match in their ACC opening series against Virginia Tech, winning 7-5. Molly Hutchison's three-run homer tied the score in a five-run fifth, and Maggie Hawkins added a solo shot in the sixth to give her team the lead. Courtney Mirabella was stellar in relief, fanning six Hokies in three shutout innings to earn the win in relief.

Softball is off until Friday, when it plays host to Delaware State, Loyola-Chicago, and Northern Illinois in the Doubletree RDU Challenge, a weekend tournament. Baseball plays a pair of midweek games against Fairfield before hosting Boston College to begin ACC play next weekend.