Pack Blanks Notre Dame, 3-0

DURHAM, N.C. -- NC State earns first shutout win in the ACC Baseball Championship since 2011.

NC State, behind the solid pitching of Brian Brown and Curt Britt, blanked Notre Dame, 3-0, at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in the ACC Baseball Championship opener for both schools.

The Wolfpack (32-20, 1-0 pool play) posted its first shutout win in the ACC’s conference Tournament since a, 7-0, victory over Florida State in 2011. Brown and Britt combined to limit the Fighting Irish to only three hits on the day while fanning 14.

The game started over two and a-half hours late due to a rain delay. NC State did not appeared to be bothered and put the Irish on its heels immediately.

“I thought we played very, very well,” NC State head coach Elliott Avent said. “Our guys are so relaxed right now and so confident. I don’t think anything bothers them.

The Wolfpack got off to a dream start. Preston Palmeiro singled with one out in the first inning and Andrew Knizner followed with an infield hit. Notre Dame third baseman Kyle Fiala’s throwing error then allowed Palmeiro to advance to third. After Bubby Riley popped out in foul territory, Joe Dunand singled through the left side and Ryne Willard smacked a base hit back up the middle to give NC State an early two-run advantage.

In the following inning, NC State used a two-out hit to score again. Jake Fincher walked with one out. After Logan Ratledge struck out, Palmeiro was then hit by a pitch from Notre Dame starter Scott Kerrigan (3-5). Knizner then laced a 1-0 pitch to left field and Fincher scored to extend the Pack’s lead to 3-0.

“Timely hitting is everything,” Avent said. “If you two-out hits, it is not only a pick-me-up for you but it is a heartbreaker for the other ballclub. That was huge.”

Notre Dame had its chances early but Brown (7-3) made sure the Fighting Irish did not duplicate the Wolfpack’s two-out hitting feats. The left-hander induced a 5-4-3 double play to end the first inning. He then struck out Ricky Sanchez and Kyle Richardson to thwart a bases-loaded threat in the second.

After that, Brown settled in. The freshman finished with a career-best 10 strikeouts while allowing only two hits and two walks in six innings of work. He retired the last nine batter he faced and 14 of the final 15. Britt then came on and only allowed one hit over the final three frames for his second save of the year.

“Today my changeup was really on,” Brown said. “I usually have a little bit better fastball command, but it was good enough to get the job done.”

NC State returns to action on Friday at 7 p.m. against two-seed and eighth-ranked Miami in a matchup of schools undefeated in ACC Baseball Championship pool play. The Hurricanes, who swept the Wolfpack in Coral Gables earlier this season, defeated Virginia, 9-5, on Wednesday.

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