Sophomore RHP Reid Johnston was on his A-game Saturday night, pitching a complete game shutout as NC State evened the series with Virginia at one game apiece and putting Sunday’s series finale into the ‘rubber match’ category.
Johnston blew away his previous career long outing in going the distance on the evening. He surrendered just six hits and one walk while striking out seven Cavaliers hitters. The win is Johnston’s fourth of the season and pushes NC State’s overall record to 26-2, while improving the Wolfpack to 9-2 in conference play. The 3-0 decision dropped Virginia to 16-11 overall and 6-5 in the ACC.
NC State struck first blood in the bottom of the 2nd inning. SR 1B Evan Edwards (2-for-4, SB) led off the inning with a single to right field. FR CF Tyler McDonough traded places with Edwards on a fielder’s choice. SO 2B David Vazquez then doubled into the right-center gap allowing the fleet-footed McDonough (2-for-4, R, SB) to score from first base on the play and stake the Pack to a 1-0 lead.
The game would stay at 1-0 until the 5th inning. Vazquez (1-for-2, 2B, BB, R, RBI) led off the frame with a walk. Following a pair of strikeouts, JR LF Jonny Butler came to bat. Butler, who was known for some pop in his JUCO days but hadn’t really displayed it yet in the Red & White, drilled a 1-1 pitch over the right field wall for a two-run home run that pushed NC State to a 3-0 lead.
With Johnston on the mound pitching the way he was, 3-0 was a seemingly insurmountable lead - and it proved to be as such.
Virginia starting pitcher Noah Murdock pitched well on the evening, allowing three runs (all earned) on seven hits and a pair of walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings. SS Tanner Morris had two hits on the day for the Wahoos.
With the Cavaliers only using one bullpen arm, Sunday’s game (1:00pm start) will be interesting as both squads have majority of their relief arms at their disposal. NC State has only used one reliever over the entirety of the first two games of the series.