Despite a strong showing from its ace starter, No. 13 NC State (15-6, 2-3 ACC) dropped the second of three games against Notre Dame (8-9, 1-4 ACC) in 12 innings Saturday afternoon, 8-4.
“I’m [aggravated],” head coach Elliott Avent said. “This is hard to swallow. [Playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference] demands toughness, and you have to play to win. Right now, I’m still not convinced we’re playing to win.”
Brian Brown threw a career-high 13 strikeouts in 5-2/3 innings on the mound for the Wolfpack. He gave up two runs on six hits and two walks, exiting the game with a 4-2 lead.
“I had my good stuff today, and they had a lot of swings-and-misses today,” Brown said. “It was tough [to lose today], but we’ll find our ways to win [again].”
Austin Staley retired the only batter he faced before Will Gilbert succeeded him. Gilbert shut out the Fighting Irish for 1-2/3 innings, only allowing three hits while striking out two.
Tommy DeJuneas entered the game with four outs to go to secure what would have been his fifth save of the season. However, he surrendered two runs in the ninth, blowing his save opportunity. He hurled three innings and gave up five hits and three walks while striking out three.
“Tommy just wasn’t Tommy,” Avent said. “They found a way to tie the game up in the ninth, and as many chances as we had in extra innings, we couldn’t come through.”
Chris Williams entered with two outs in the 11th inning and only faced two batters. Both recorded hits, but a putout at the plate on a single into center field helped him escape the jam.
Sean Adler, Kyle Smith, and Travis Orwig all pitched during the top of the 12th. Adler (0-1, 8.00 ERA) was credited with all four runs the Irish scored in the inning as well as the loss, allowing one hit and three walks while striking out two. Smith walked both batters he faced while Orwig forced the only batter he faced to pop out.
“We self-imploded in the 12th inning by walking five people,” Avent said. “You might as well just give them the game. If you’re going to walk 10 people [overall], you should never win a baseball game. Ever.”
The Pack scored all four of its runs in the bottom of the fourth. Chance Shepard led off with a single but was thrown out on a grounder hit by Stephen Pitarra who reached first safely. After Evan Mendoza knocked a single into right field, Preston Palmeiro plated Pitarra and Mendoza with a double into center.
Two batters later, Shane Shepard hit an RBI single into right field, scoring Palmeiro. Josh McLain followed with a single before Brock Deatherage scored Shane with a single through the right side.
NC State will conclude its series with Notre Dame on Sunday at Doak Field at Dail Park. First pitch is slated for noon.
“It’s a tough conference, and you’ve got to be grown men. You can’t afford to be boys, so they will have to decide if they’re men or boys.”