Second-ranked Clemson jumped ahead early against No. 10 NC State on Saturday, but it was all Wolfpack the rest of the way as they beat the lethargic Tigers, 6-1, at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. NC State won the three-game series with the victory after taking the series opener on Friday, 4-0.
NC State starter Brian Brown (4-0) stifled the Tigers’ bats Saturday afternoon, striking out eight and allowing just one run on five hits in six innings to earn the win. Evan Edwards and Josh McLain each had two RBIs for the Wolfpack, while Will Wilson recorded two hits with an RBI and run scored.
Junior righthander Brooks Crawford (1-1) took the loss for Clemson after giving up three earned runs on four hits in 4.1 innings. Sophomore catcher Kyle Wilkie went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead the Tigers offensively.
“NC State deserves a lot of credit. They were the better team by far today, better team all weekend so far,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “They threw strikes, they made all the plays that they needed to make.”
Clemson (16-3, 3-2 ACC) struck first and took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second but missed an opportunity for a big inning. After three walks by Brown loaded the bases, Wilkie hit a sharp single to left-center field to score Seth Beer for the Tigers’ first run. However, with the bases still jammed and only one out, Brown bounced back with consecutive strikeouts of Bryce Teodosio and Logan Davidson to end the threat.
“Brown did an excellent job,” Lee said. “We tried to put something together there in the second inning. Only could score one run with the bases loaded, and then he settled down and threw the ball very well.”
NC State (17-3, 4-1) quickly answered to tie the game in the top half of the third. Patrick Bailey and Dillon Cooper began the frame with back-to-back singles before moving to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by J.T. Jarrett. McLain then grounded out to shortstop to bring home Bailey and even the score at 1.
The Wolfpack took their first lead of the game at 2-1 in the fourth inning. A sacrifice fly to center field off the bat of Edwards scored Wilson, who led off the inning with a double down the third-base line prior to advancing to third on a wild pitch.
NC State extended its advantage to 3-1 in the fifth while chasing Crawford from the contest. Freshman righthander Spencer Strider relieved Crawford with runners on second and third and one out. McLain subsequently drove in Bailey on an RBI, infield single to third base, but Strider retired the next two batters he faced to limit the damage.
An inning later, Edwards sent a solo home run to left-center field to give the Wolfpack an insurance run and 4-1 lead. NC State scored again in the seventh on a wild pitch before adding another run in the ninth to provide the final margin.
Freshman righthander Reid Johnston pitched the final three innings for NC State to get his fourth save of the season.
NC State put the leadoff hitter on base in six of the nine innings, and all six came around to score.
Clemson is just 5-for-34 with runners on base in the series.
“Obviously frustrated, but I know we’re a better team than we’ve shown in the last two days,” Lee said. “But we’re going to go through tough times, and tough times don’t last — tough people do.
“So, hopefully our guys can show some toughness, we can make some adjustments, and some leadership will step up and get our guys going in the right direction.”
The series concludes Sunday at 1 p.m. at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.