No. 13 NC State (15-5, 2-2 ACC) began its series against Notre Dame (7-9, 0-4 ACC) with a dominating win Friday evening at Doak Field at Dail Park, 9-1.
“We played very, very, very well,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “That’s a good team we played. That’s probably the best we’ve played all year, and it certainly mirrored the intensity we had against Alabama and Coastal Carolina.”
After dropping two of three games against Boston College the weekend prior, the Wolfpack held the Fighting Irish to only four hits en route to the win.
Joe O’Donnell (3-1, 2.64) pitched the entire game, striking out four and walking four to secure the win for the Pack. It was the first complete game thrown by an NC State pitcher since April 25, 2014 when Carlos Rodon hurled nine innings against Georgia Tech.
“I just kept trying to attack the hitters,” O’Donnell said. “That’s what any pitcher does when they’re ahead.”
Unfortunately, Notre Dame pinch-hitter James Nevant launched a solo home run over the wall in left field with two outs in the ninth inning, breaking up the shutout.
“[Nevant] got a hold of one, but that didn’t matter because we got the win tonight,” O’Donnell said. “I was a little upset, but it’s about the team. We won 9-1 tonight. That gives us a lot of momentum going into Saturday to try to take the series.”
Brock Deatherage, Chance Shepard, and Josh McLain led the way offensively for State. Deatherage finished 2-for-5 at the plate with a run and a two-RBI triple in the seventh inning. Shepard was 2-for-4 with a double, a run, and two RBI. McLain was 1-for-1 with a two-run home run in the sixth.
“We were patient at the plate and didn’t chase a lot,” Avent said. “Our bats were much better. The way we played tonight is more of what we’ve been looking for all year.”
The Pack wasted no time putting runs on the board, taking the lead in the bottom of the first. Two batters after Stephen Pitarra drew a one-out walk, Shepard doubled to send Pitarra home.
“It helps ease into the game when your offense comes out swinging like that,” O’Donnell said. “I definitely credit them. They helped me out a lot because it helped me get into the rhythm of the game.”
State added another run in the fifth on a bases-loaded wild pitch that sent Deatherage home. Two more runs were scored one inning later with McLain’s long-ball that also plated Shane Shepard.
The Pack capped off the scoring in the seventh with five additional runs. Andrew Knizner led off with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch. Chance drove him in with a single. Preston Palmeiro singled to put runners on the corners and moved to second on a balk, scoring Chance. Two batters later, Shane doubled to score Palmeiro. After McLain walked two batters later, Deatherage tripled to score McLain and Garrett Suggs, pinch-running for Shane.
NC State will return to action Saturday for the second game of the three-game set against the Fighting Irish. First pitch is set for 2 pm. The series will wrap up Sunday at noon.