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Streaking State downs generous Jackets in Atlanta

Hopes are trending upward! Oh please don't cue the catastrophe.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

NC State erased an early two-run deficit and won going away to stretch its ACC winning streak to five games. The 8-3 win at Georgia Tech was the Pack's seventh straight overall and moved them to within a game of Florida State and Louisville, the two teams tied for first in the ACC Atlantic standings.

The Wolfpack (25-9, 9-5) doubled the Yellow Jackets (23-10, 7-8) in hits, 12-6, and had a 4-1 advantage in extra-base hits. Back-to-back doubles from Chance Shepard and Josh McLain, which followed a leadoff walk to Brett Kinneman, allowed State to tie the game at 2-2 in the fifth. After Evan Mendoza battled with two strikes and rolled a grounder to first to move McLain up 90 feet, Stephen Pitarra plated the go-ahead run on a booted grounder, the first of three costly Tech errors in the game.

The Pack sent a fourth run plate-ward on another set of back-to-back doubles in the sixth, with Preston Palmeiro and Joe Dunand doing the trick. Streaking State now has 41 more extra-base hits than its opponents on the season and owns a .456-.344 advantage in team slugging.

Georgia Tech closed to within a run in the bottom of the eighth but gave it back and then some in the top of the ninth. A dropped fly ball with two outs, followed by a generous hit ruling on what should have been an error...and then another error, opened the floodgates for four Pack insurance runs. Palmeiro, who along with McLain and Andrew Knizner enjoyed two-hit games, drove in a pair of runs in the inning.

Cory Wilder went five fairly solid frames to win his second straight start. Wilder fanned five and only allowed three hits, though he was plagued by his usual Wilder-ness (three walks and a hit batter). He successfully threw his changeup in fastball counts, including a couple of times on 3-2 for strikeouts, to keep Tech batters uncomfortable at the dish.

Will Gilbert allowed a run in 3.1 innings out of the pen; Austin Staley got the final two outs. Staley has quietly enjoyed an impressive first season for State. Opponents are hitting just .167 against him, and he has a 3/1 K/BB ratio.

NC State will run Brian Brown out Saturday afternoon with a chance to win the series. The 4 p.m. start will stream live on The Ocho.