NC State trailed by four runs but battled back to tie the game before No. 2 Louisville scored three in the top of the ninth inning to pull out a, 8-5, win over the Pack at Doak Field on Saturday.
With the loss to NC State closes out the regular season 31-20 overall and 15-14 in ACC play. The Wolfpack advance into pool play of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday.
After blowing a save in the eighth, Zack Burdi picked up the win to improve to 5-0 on the campaign. Tommy DeJuneas (2-3), a day after earning a save to clinch NC State a top-six finish in the conference, was roughed up for three runs in a third of an inning and took the loss.
“I am really happy about this ballclub,” NC State head coach Elliott Avent said. “They are in the locker room and they are down--really down. They know they are not better than Louisville, but they think they are just as good as Louisville. They felt that they should have won this ballgame today, and they should have.”
NC State scored in its half of the first inning to take an early lead but the Cardinals answered back with three unearned runs in the third. Trailing, 5-1, in the bottom of the sixth, NC State began its climb back when freshman Joe Dunand belted a two-run homer off of Louisville starter Josh Rogers.
The Wolfpack tied the game in the bottom of the eighth off of Burdi. Ryne Willard hit a one-out single and then moved to second when Dunand was hit by a pitch. Willard advanced to third when Chance Shepard hit into a fly out. Burdi then uncorked a wild pitch and Louisville catcher Will Smith threw the ball into center. Willard scored and Dunand dashed to third base.
Bubby Riley, with the tying run at third, smacked a 2-2 pitch back up the middle for a RBI-single. The senior went 2-for-4 in his final home game. The Wolfpack has won 10 of its last 12 games entering the postseason and Riley contributed to the hot streak with by improving his average to .267 after spending most of the season below .200.
“[I] have never gotten too down,” Riley said. “My teammates have been the biggest part of that, even on days where I haven’t been confident in myself they have always expressed confidence in me and it has meant a lot….I will put us up against anybody. I think we are playing our best baseball right now.”
NC State will open ACC Baseball Championship play on Wednesday against Notre Dame. The Wolfpack will be in the group with the Irish, Miami and the winner of Tuesday’s matchup between last season’s national runner-up Virginia and defending conference champion Georgia Tech.