Reid Johnston put together an excellent start and Evan Justice shut the door as the Wolfpack rallied to take a big 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers. NC State kept Pitt off the scoreboard for the last seven innings of the game.
Not that it was a piece of cake to do so. Pitt put together a rally in the eighth inning, getting runners to second and third with two outs before Justice struck out David Yanni on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat. Earlier in the frame, JT Jarrett made a tremendous diving play to nab the first out, and without that, this game easily could have gotten away from the Pack.
That’s the kind of clutch play you need in the close ones.
NC State trailed 2-1 after the second inning but pulled even after Luca Tresh plated Tyler McDonough with a one-out double. NC State went ahead in the seventh thanks to Austin Murr’s leadoff triple; he scored quickly after on a wild pitch.
Johnston went 7-1/3 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits with nine strikeouts and one walk. Justice followed with four strikeouts, including two in the bottom of the ninth.
With the win, NC State improved to 24-14 (15-13). The Pack has won 20 of its last 25 games after that ugly 4-9 start to the campaign, in the process looking a lot more like a team that was ranked in the top 20 heading into the year. One more league win guarantees that State will finish at least .500 in ACC games, which is a hell of an accomplishment after starting 1-8.
Game two against Pitt is set for 3 p.m. ET on Saturday.