What looked like it might be a high-scoring affair after the first two innings Thursday night in Charlotte turned into a pitchers’ duel between NC State and Pittsburgh. Thankfully for the Wolfpack, Reid Johnston and the Pack came out on top, with NC State securing a trip to the ACC Tournament semifinals with a 3-2 victory.
Johnston threw 8.0 innings of two-run ball, allowing just five hits and two walks while striking out ten Panthers hitters. For Johnston, it was his second straight outing recording double digit strikeouts after setting down 13 FSU hitters a week ago.
Despite issuing a leadoff walk in the 9th, Evan Justice settled in to secure the save and the victory - albeit not without a bit of drama, thanks to an errant throw to second base on a comebacker to the mound. That throw was thankfully secured by JT Jarrett, who managed to keep a foot on the bag to tally an out and keep the win in order.
Speaking of Jarrett, he was almost the entire NC State offense tonight.
After falling behind 1-0 in the 1st inning and getting two quick outs in the top of the 2nd, Devonte Brown and Vojtech Mensik worked back-to-back walks to bring up Jarrett, the Pack’s #9 hitter. The undersized 2nd delivered, turning on an inside 0-1 pitch and smashing it down into the left field corner for a two-run triple. Jarrett then scored on a wild pitch to plate the Pack’s final - and as it turns out, the decisive - run of the game.
Johnston and Justice took it from there, allowing just one more runner to cross the plate for Pitt.
Tyler McDonough was the only NC State hitter to reach base multiple times in the game, tallying two singles. Austin Murr had the lone other Wolfpack hit on the day.
A huge tip of the cap to Pittsburgh pitcher Matt Gilbertson. Despite giving up three 2nd inning runs and being over 40 pitches after that inning, he faced the minimum from there on en route to a hard-luck loss, complete game effort. A gutsy and great performance by the junior right-hander.
NC State has a meaningless game against UNC Friday night at 7:00pm, before taking on Georgia Tech in the semifinals Saturday at 5:00pm.