After beating Louisville 3-1 on Friday night, NC State had a golden opportunity to take a series against the nation’s top-ranked team. Unfortunately, the Wolfpack couldn’t make it happen, dropping a 7-6 result in extras on Saturday and an 8-1 game Sunday.
State got going early again on Saturday, putting itself ahead early, but the Cards didn’t need long to get to Brian Brown, who allowed four earned runs in 2-2/3 innings. Needless to say, if State’s going to somehow turn this season around, Brown is going to have to be a whole lot better than that.
The Wolfpack went into the bottom of the ninth down 6-3 but put a couple of guys on for Joe Dunand, who came up with two outs. Louisville reliever Lincoln Henzman had allowed neither an extra base hit nor a run up to that point in the season, but he made a mistake to Dunand, who crushed it for a game-tying three-run shot.
But Louisville got one right back in the top of the 10th, Henzman shut the Pack down in order, and Louisville claimed the 7-6 win.
Sunday’s rubber match was far less dramatic, as the Cards claimed the lead early and were never much threatened on the way to a series-clinching 8-1 victory. NC State starter Cory Wilder was a typical model of inconsistency, fanning five in three innings while surrendering four runs on five hits.
The Pack Nine had not rally in them this afternoon, however. Louisville’s superb pitching staff scattered seven hits across nine innings, and State didn’t break the shutout until the final frame.
With the weekend losses, NC State is now 13-12 (4-5), and that league record wouldn’t be a big deal of the Pack hadn’t been so awful during the pre-conference schedule. But they can’t just tread water in league play after the rocky start to the season. If they can’t put together an extended winning streak soon, time’s gonna run out on them. State’s RPI situation (51) ain’t terrible, but you do actually need a decent record to make the postseason.
Next up: a road game at UNC-C on Tuesday, then a weekend series at Notre Dame.