A day after getting shelled by the Tar Heels, NC State responded in kind. Preston Palmeiro homered for the second consecutive game, Evan Mendoza drove home three, Ryan Williamson pitched three shutout innings, and State cruised to a 10-1 win.
Palmeiro reached base five times, three via base on balls. Palmeiro, Mendoza, and Stephen Pitarra were tremendous at the top of the lineup; the trio combined for six of State's 12 hits and drove in seven. The Pack's offense could have done a lot more damage if Joe Dunand hadn't gone 0-fer from the cleanup spot.
In the first two games of this series, State's pitching got off to shaky starts. That was not the case Saturday, thanks to Williamson, who was good, if not quite his pre-injury self. His start was brief because of that injury, but the bullpen was there to take State the rest of the way. Will Gilbert shut out the Heels over the final three innings, and needed only 29 pitches to do so.
While it's always nice to see the offense putting up big numbers, the most encouraging aspect of the game Saturday afternoon was Williamson's performance. He injured the tricep in his throwing arm against Clemson two weeks ago, and while he did start last week at Louisville, he managed to finish only one inning.
Against the Heels, he struck out five and allowed two hits over 3-1/3 innings. He was removed in the fourth after his 55th pitch--he is still not completely healthy and most likely was on a tight pitch count today.
Ryan Williamson still battling tricep tightness, Elliott Avent said. Velo down a little today, topped out at 90. Status unclear #mlbdraft— Michael Lananna (@mlananna) May 21, 2016
He's still missing a few ticks on his fastball, but today was encouraging. We're a couple of weeks out from the start of the NCAA tourney, and hopefully by then he'll be capable of pitching deeper into games. The Pack's gonna need him.
With the series-clinching win, NC State improved to 34-18 (15-13). The Wolfpack will be the No. 5 seed in the ACC baseball tournament next week, so the Pack is through to pool play and gets to skip the two play-in games that open the tourney.