The Pack Nine have won nine straight games, including six in a row in which the opponent has failed to top two runs. The staff's recent dominance includes a midweek sweep of Fairfield; winning 4-2 and 4-0 has lowered the team ERA to 3.29 heading into this weekend's ACC opener against Boston College.
Cory Wilder got the series off to an inauspicious start by failing to get out of the first inning against the Stags (3-5) on Tuesday. Wilder walked three and surrendered a run while getting just two outs before getting lifted in favor of crafty redshirt senior Chris Williams. Williams, the younger brother of former rubber-armed Pack reliever Vance, worked a career-long 4.1 frames without allowing a run to earn the win when State (12-2) rallied. The younger Williams doesn't fool anybody--he has just three strikeouts in 9.2 innings this year--but he throws strikes (just one walk issued all year) and has yet to allow a run.
The Pack knotted it in the bottom of the first on a Preston Palmeiro homer and took the lead on a Shane Shepard bomb in the fourth.
In all, Pack relievers allowed just a run in 8.1 innings, culminating in a scoreless ninth by Tommy DeJuneas for his third save.
Three Pack hurlers combined for the club's first shutout of the season Wednesday in the finale of the two-game sweep. Ryan Williamson went the first 5.1, striking out 10 in the process. Austin Staley got an out before handing the ball to Will Gilbert, who fanned four in 3.1 innings to record his second save. Gilbert has appeared in seven of the Pack's 14 games and is 2-0 with a nifty 2.40 ERA. Williamson shares the team lead in ERA with Gilbert despite being surprisingly hittable for a guy who gets a ton of strikeouts. Opponents have hit .305 against Williamson even though he has a team-high 24 punch-outs in 15 innings. Over half of his outs are recorded without the ball being put in play.
State was held scoreless in game two until a two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth. Two-way player DeJuneas singled in front of a Brock Deatherage triple, and Josh McLain plated Deatherage to make it 2-0. Deatherage, up to .326 on the season with a 3-for-3 day at the plate, added an insurance run when he singled home Ryne Willard in the seventh.