Hot-hitting NC State outfielder Brett Kinneman cranked a solo home run in the top of the first inning against No. 2 Clemson on Friday night, and that run proved to be all the 10th-ranked Wolfpack would need in a 4-0 blanking of the Tigers at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Sophomore righthander Michael Bienlien earned the win for NC State, pitching five shutout innings and allowing only five hits. Nick Swiney, Nolan Clenney and Kent Klyman combined to pitch the final four innings and keep Clemson off the scoreboard.
Clemson starting pitcher Jacob Hennessy went 5.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits while striking out seven and walking three. The sophomore lefthander also hit a batter and committed two of the Tigers’ five errors in the contest.
“NC State deserves a lot of credit tonight,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “I thought their starting pitcher, Michael Bienlien, did an outstanding job. He pounded the strike zone. Only one free pass. Lot of ground balls. Had a lot of sink on his fastball and did a good job of locating his fastball.
“I thought the key to the game for them was their bullpen was outstanding past him. Bienlien did an outstanding job getting ground balls and pitching to contact, and then they did a really good job of matching up and making the right calls out of the bullpen in the right spots. Their bullpen was outstanding for them.”
The Tigers went 2-for-18 with runners on base in the contest, 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.
“We had a couple opportunities, not very many,” Lee said. “We had multiple runners on base in a couple different innings, and they did a good job of making pitches and making defensive plays.”
Kinneman, who entered the game hitting .408 with 10 home runs and 31 runs batted in on the season, sent the first pitch he saw from Hennessy over the right-field fence to give the Wolfpack a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The junior from York, Pa., finished the game 2-for-5.
The Wolfpack looked as though they would tack on in the top of the second inning following a leadoff walk by Brad Debo, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Josh McLain singled to right field, but a strong throw from Seth Beer nailed Debo at home plate to get the third out and prevent the run from scoring.
The Tigers threatened to tie the score in the bottom of the second with back-to-back one-out singles by Drew Wharton and Grayson Byrd, but Bienlien induced an inning-ending double-play off the bat of Kyle Wilkie.
After retiring six straight hitters, Hennessy unraveled a bit in the top of the fifth inning as NC State added two runs on three hits and an error to take a 3-0 lead. Brock Deatherage led off the inning with a walk before moving to third base thanks to a throwing error by Hennessy following a bunt by J.T. Jarrett. Deatherage then scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by McLain before back-to-back singles by Kinneman and Will Wilson brought Jarrett around to score.
Clemson failed to capitalize on an opportunity to cut into its deficit in the bottom half of the fifth. The Tigers had runners on first and second with one out after Byrd reached on an error and Wilkie singled to right, but Bryce Teodosio struck out swinging and Logan Davidson flied out to left, ending the frame.
The Tigers could not cash in during the bottom of the sixth inning, either, stranding two more runners. Patrick Cromwell walked to start the inning and advanced to second on a one-out walk by Chris Williams before consecutive strikeouts by Robert Jolly and Wharton concluded the inning.
NC State recorded an insurance run in the eighth. After Debo walked with one out, Deatherage singled through the right side with two outs, and Jarrett singled to left center to bring home Debo.
Byrd led the Tigers with two hits. Beer, who went 0-for-4, saw his 22-game on-base streak come to an end.
Game two of the three-game series between the Tigers and Wolfpack is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.