Both teams put runners on the corners with no outs in the first in NC State’s Saturday matinee at Duke; neither team managed to score. A pitchers’ duel ensued, and thanks largely to a reversal of an out call at home plate, NC State prevailed 2-1. Dating to last season, the Pack have won 10 consecutive ACC series.
Josh McLain, who went 3-for-4 with a double, opened the game with a single to left off Duke starter Mitch Stallings. Brett Kinneman followed with a single to right. Will Wilson followed with a drive to left, but Jimmy Herron robbed him of extra bases, perhaps even a home run, with a leaping grab at the wall, and Stallings settled down to strand a pair of Pack on the sacks.
Brian Brown’s first went similarly, with Herron reaching one a leadoff single and going to third on a perfect hit-and-run off the bat of Chris Proctor. The veteran lefty got Zack Kone and Joey Loperfido on strikes before Kennie Taylor bounced to third to end the threat.
The game remained scoreless until the sixth, when McLain tucked a double just inside the first-base bag to lead off the inning. Wilson wouldn’t get robbed again, finding the gap in right for a standup triple that plated the game’s first run. Evan Edwards followed with a high and very shallow pop to right. Wilson tagged and appeared to be out at the plate on an accurate throw from Griffin Conine, but after a lengthy review, first to determine if he was safe, then to see if he left third early, Wilson was ruled safe. (In my humble opinion, I saw no evidence to support reversing the call, but we’ll take it).
Brown, who picked up his sixth win without a defeat and dropped his ERA to 0.99 on the season, was lifted after just 5.2 innings a week after notching his first complete game. Brown scattered five hits, walked just one, and fanned five.
Kent Klyman and Joe O’Donnell took it from there, but not without some drama. Klyman allowed four hits in his 2.2 innings, including a sharp liner in the gap off the bat of Conine in the eighth. Kinneman kicked it around a bit, allowing Conine to cruise into second. The hit was ruled a double, though if Kinneman fields it cleanly there’s at least a play at second (or Conine may have settled for a single). The next batter, Max Miller, hit a shot in the hole that Wilson backhanded, but the sophomore shortstop needlessly hurried his throw, which eluded the scoop attempt by Edwards and allowed Conine to score. Klyman K’d Jack Labosky on three pitches to end the threat.
O’Donnell came on for the last two outs of the ninth, getting a weak pop up before hanging a slider that Proctor drove to the track in center, but McLain tracked it down easily to record the game’s final out.
Terrell Tatum had a two-hit day for the Pack, which had nine hits as a team.
Duke also had nine hits on the day, including three from Conine, but stranded 10 men on base. Stallings was the tough luck loser, going 6.1 innings and allowing two runs. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out nine. The Devils didn’t allow one free pass on the day, and State’s staff issued just one.
State goes for its second road sweep of an ACC series against a ranked opponent Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.