Off to #1 ranked Clemson. The NC State offense, which had a batting average near .400 coming into conference play, was slowed to a halt once again. Clemson starter Steve Reba held State to two hits in seven innings. The Pack only managed two more. Derek McKee pitched nearly as well for the Pack, holding Clemson to five hits in six innings. The six runs Clemson scored off those hits, however, were enough to win. NC State rallied with two runs in the eighth but never threatened in the ninth. Final: 6-4 Tigers.
Game two saw one of the most impressive performances by a Wolfpack pitcher this season. Mike Prochaska pitched a complete game four-hitter, handing Clemson just its second loss of the season (they're 27-2). The Pack offense, keyed by Colt Morton's 3-4 performance, scored the runs necessary to win. The defense came through in the bottom of the ninth with a huge double play; State won 3-0.
In the third game, State was again victim of a bunch of late inning runs. Holding a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth, the NC State pitching collapsed. Clemson scored four runs in the sixth, three in the seventh, and two in the eighth. The Wolfpack batters managed nine hits, but could not get the run production of the previous two games. So another series ends depressingly for the Pack; Tigers won 10-2.
There are some positives left: the Pack (21-13, 2-7) is still batting over .350 as a team, with several starters hitting over .400 (though it is clear that the offense looks much better on paper—or against 3rd rate pitching). And finally—thankfully, mercifully—State gets a reprieve from the ACC schedule. NC State plays last-place Duke (17-16, 0-6) next weekend (the Saturday game will be televised on FSN South at 1 PM) at Doak Field. Winning that series, needless to say, is imperative for NC State. The Wolfpack will need all the momentum it can obtain for the upcoming road series against North Carolina and Florida State.