Fittingly on his senior day, Josh McLain put away the final out on a liner to center to cap NC State’s sweep of Wake Forest. McLain, who spurned the Los Angeles Dodgers to return to Raleigh for his senior campaign, filled the box score with two runs scored, a two-run triple, a sac fly, a stolen base, and he was hit by a pitch for good measure. His triple put the Pack up 6-5 in the sixth and State cruised to a 10-6 win from there.
The win was the eighth straight for a Pack squad that will host a regional and still has designs on being a national seed.
Sunday series finales are often not a thing of beauty, as teams are running out a staff held together with duct tape by the third game of the weekend. It started ugly for State, with Evan Justice and Mathieu Gauthier giving up a combined four runs on six hits while recording just six outs, but Michael Bienlien had a resurgent outing and Connor Centala made a rare but highly effective appearance to get the ball to Kent Klyman, who held Wake in check while the game was still in doubt.
Bienlien, who was part of the weekend rotation revolving door earlier in the season, struck out three in three innings and allowed just one run. Centala came on in the sixth with a runner on and got three quick outs on two ground balls, the first of which resulted in a twin-killing. Klyman yielded a solo shot in the ninth but was otherwise dominant, striking out four straight at one point as he worked the final three innings.
Centala was credited with his first collegiate win while Klyman picked up his fourth save.
Brett Kinneman had a two-out, two-run double in the first and Stephen Pitarra had a two-out, RBI double in the second to keep the Pack close while Justice and Gauthier were scuffling in the early going. Kinneman added an RBI groundout later in the game and Pitarra finished with a pair of doubles and walk on his senior day, though he did have to leave the game for a runner after apparently straining the hamstring that’s been a season-long struggle for him. Pitarra did look fine in the five-slapping line after the game.
Will Wilson had a three-hit day for the Pack that included a double, run scored, and an RBI.
Brock Deatherage has had a huge season after he, like McLain, opted to return to Raleigh rather than pursue pro ball, though he was 0-for-5 with two K’s on Sunday. Fellow senior Shane Shepard walked in his only plate appearance.
Other Pack seniors include Brian Brown, who started Saturday’s game, and Johnny Piedmonte and Joe O’Donnell, who worked in relief of Brown and recorded the win and save, respectively.
The Pack, who will not have a midweek game, conclude the regular season in Tallahassee against Florida State. It’s a Thursday-Saturday series ahead of next week’s ACC tournament. State enters the series assured of a top four finish in league play and finds itself just one game behind Clemson in the Atlantic. If it can forge a tie, State holds the head-to-head advantage with the Tigers. State is 11-3 outside of Raleigh this year.