The margin for error tends to be slim when you’re on the road against the regional host, and unfortunately NC State’s pitching staff couldn’t get out of its own way against South Carolina.
Matt Willadsen struggled with control for a lot of the night, issuing five walks over four innings and change. One of those walks came right before Braylen Wimmer went yard in the third, staking the Gamecocks to a 2-0 lead.
In the fifth, Willadsen struck out the leadoff man, then picked off Will McGillis after he doubled. With two down and nobody on, State was in good shape, and then Willadsen walked the next two batters. His replacement, Carson Kelly, walked the first two batters he faced, then gave up back-to-back singles. South Carolina had manufactured a four-run frame out of nothing, and it was 6-0.
Still, State’s offense had the opportunity to come to the rescue, but could not deliver. The Wolfpack left men on second and third in the first, then went quiet until a three-run sixth inning, capped by a two-run double from Chase Nixon.
The Pack put men on first and second in the seventh before a double play ended the threat. A double play squashed a potential rally in the eighth. And State managed to get the tying run to the plate in the ninth but there the come-from-behind effort died. So it goes.
The offense spent too much time sitting this one out, and the pitching staff was just too sloppy. NC State pitchers issued nine walks, while South Carolina’s issued none. Tough to work around that kind of thing.
The loss means NC State needs to win three straight games to get out of the regional, beginning with Campbell on Sunday at noon. If you set the Pack’s win probability at 45% in all three of those games (that might be generous), then the chances of a 3-0 run stand at 9.1%. Hey, I’m not trying to be a downer over here—just, you know, there’s some work to be done now.