NC State’s baseball season is officially on life support. And that might be generous. Sure, there’s a lot of season left, but nothing we’ve seen over the first 28 games would in any way suggest that a sustained stretch of winning baseball is in the offing. The Pack were walked off by Notre Dame Saturday afternoon to fall to 14-14 overall (4-7 in the ACC). HA! Someone picked the Pack #6 in a preseason poll.
Anyhoo, since going up 14-0 in a midweek game against Charlotte, State has managed just three runs over its last 22 innings, including dropping a 4-1 game to the punchless Irish Friday before this afternoon’s 2-1 setback. The Pack have lost four straight in conference play. Only Boston College has posted fewer league wins.
Saturday’s loss wasted a season-best performance from Brian Brown, who went 7 innings and allowed just a run. Josh McLain and Joe Dunand had a pair of hits apiece, accounting for four of State’s paltry total of six.
Catcher Jack Conley’s throwaway ignited the Irish rally in the ninth; the two-base error put a runner on second with one out. After a harmless fly out, Austin Staley walked the bases drunk and gave up the game winner to Jake Shepski. Staley was ahead 0-2 but nibbled his way to 3-2 before grooving a fastball that was driven through the right side of the infield. Shepski entered the game hitting a robust .126. Staley lost Ryan Lidge (.190 average) on four straight and Cole Dailey (.244) on five pitches before Shepski’s heroics.
Notre Dame, in contrast, threw strikes. Michael Hearne, who went seven, and Peter Soloman, who picked up the win in two innings of relief, didn’t walk a batter.
With series against Florida State and UNC looming, State desperately needed a strong showing against the Irish. Notre Dame entered the series with an RPI in the mid-100s and an ugly 8-15, 2-7 mark. Now State’s desperate to just avoid the sweep before the long flight home. Sad.