Virginia defeated the Wolfpack, 8-3, at Doak Field on Friday in the series opener between the schools. The loss drops NC State to 21-18 on the season, 9-12 in the ACC. The Pack have dropped nine of its last 12 games. The Cavaliers improve to 27-15 and 10-12 in conference play.
Brian Brown (3-3) took the loss for NC State. The lefty went five innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits. He fanned three and walked three. Connor Jones, who struck out 11 in seven innings improved to 5-2 with the victory.
The Wolfpack walked seven batters and committed two errors in the contest.
“[We have] got to catch ground balls the way you are supposed to catch them,” NC State head coach Elliott Avent said. “[They are] good ballplayers. When you get out of who you are and try to speed things up, things happen and they took advantage of it.”
The Cavaliers got the scoring started with an unearned run in its have of the fifth inning. Adam Haseley got things started by drawing a walk. He then moved to second on a wild pitch. After Daniel Pinero also got aboard via a base on balls, both runners advanced when Brown uncorked a second wild pitch. Matt Thaiss then hit a weak grounder to second base but it was enough to drive in Haseley.
The Wahoos added to its advantage an inning later. A leadoff double off the bat of Pavin Smith led to Robbie Coman’s sacrifice attempt. Coman’s bunt was not fielded cleanly by Brown and the left-hander was pulled in favor of lefty Travis Orwig. However, Joe McCarthy’s ground ball was booted by Logan Ratledge and Smith crossed home plate with a second unearned run.
Two-out RBI singles by Haseley and Pinero then gave Virginia a four-run cushion. Thaiss followed with a RBI double over Jake Fincher’s head in center field to put the game out of reach. The Cavaliers scored five unearned runs in the contest.
“Tonight, the five runs should not have happened,” Avent said. “We just made a couple of critical errors and it cost us. That is what is going to happen against good ball clubs. We have got to be fundamentally sound.”
NC State fought back in the bottom of the seventh. Preston Palmeiro blasted a three-run homer over the center field wall to cut Virginia’s lead in half. The Cavaliers, however, responded with an insurance runs in the final two innings to put the game out of reach.
The two schools will return to action on Saturday will first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. Johnny Piedmonte (1-1, 2.37) will take the mound for NC State and Virginia will counter with Brian Waddell (2-4, 5.20).