After jumping out to a 7-2 lead, NC State appeared to be over its Friday night bugaboos in its series opener against Notre Dame. Then the wheels came off. The normally reliable Pack pen gave up three gopher balls, walked four batters and hit two more, as the Irish outscored State 10-1 over the last six innings to take game one of the series 12-8.
Though State has not dropped an ACC series all season, it has now lost the opener for four straight weekends. The Irish had only scored in double figures once all season, and that came against a 5-24 Chicago State club. Le sigh.
Things started swimmingly for State with Josh McLain leading off the bottom of the first with a home run. The Pack plated three in the inning but left two men on base; timely hits—or lack thereof—became a theme in the game. State left 12 men on.
Brock Deatherage’s three-run shot to centerfield was the big blow in a four-run third for the Pack that saw them extend their advantage to 7-2.
State starter Johnny Piedmonte was lifted after allowing two runs in three innings and throwing just 53 pitches. The bullpen was not up to the task, starting with an infinity ERA performance from Nick Swiney, who gave up three runs without recording an out. Nolan Clenney came on after Swiney loaded the bases and allowed all three inherited runners to come home with a gas-on-the-fire approach that saw him give up a pair of homers and walk two while giving up three runs of his own. At least he managed five outs.
McLain’s RBI single tied things up at 8-8 in the fifth, but that would be the last of the offense for the Pack. McLain finished with four hits and a walk, though his only run came when he drove himself in with his first-inning homer. Deatherage and Patrick Bailey added a pair of hits apiece for a Pack club that actually outhit the Irish in the loss.
Kent Klyman couldn’t keep the Irish down. He threw 67 pitches over 4.1 innings to help preserve the rest of the bullpen, but he was tagged with four runs. Three of those came in the seventh after he hit two batters before allowing a two-run double and RBI single. Eric Gilgenbach homered off Klyman in the ninth to close the scoring; it was the fifth long ball of the day for the normally middling Irish offense. Gilgenbach reached base safely in all five of his plate appearances and homered twice.
The Pack will close out the series with a doubleheader Saturday from the Doak at Dail. Sunday’s game has been moved up due to bad weather expected at the end of the weekend. Start times Saturday are 2 and 6:30 p.m.