[RECAP] Pack Pulverizes Irish to Take Series

After falling behind early in the game, No. 13 NC State (16-6, 3-3 ACC) finished its series with Notre Dame (8-11, 1-5) with a commanding win in eight innings Sunday afternoon, 16-6.

In a game that ended early due to a predetermined travel curfew, The Wolfpack rallied after trailing 5-0 heading into the bottom of the third to win its first Atlantic Coast Conference series of the season.

“When you lose the way everything happened [Saturday], it’s a back-breaker,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “Then the weather changes, and it feels like it’s 40 degrees after everyday had been 85. So you come out on a cold day, and all of a sudden you look up at the scoreboard, and it’s 5-0. This team really said, ‘Let’s go.’ This might be the moment that really gets us going.”

After Johnny Piedmonte was chased off the mound after two innings of work, Ryan Williamson (4-0, 2.52 ERA) entered and hurled five innings, only giving up one run on four hits and four walks while striking out seven to secure the win. Piedmonte gave up five runs, but none of them were earned. Austin Staley struck out the side in the eighth inning before the game was called.

“I thought from pitch one, Johnny Piedmonte kept us in the game,” Williamson said. “We had a lot of timely hitting [in the third], and that symbolizes what this team is: pulling for one another and never getting down. We were really fortunate to tie the game up and go from there.”

Stephen Pitarra and Preston Palmeiro were the pivotal players for the Pack on Sunday. Pitarra finished the game 4-for-5 at the plate with four runs scored and two runs driven in. Palmeiro was 2-for-5 with a run and four RBI, including a three-run double in the third that tied the game at five apiece.

“I’m getting better,” Pitarra said. “I’m seeing the ball and hitting the ball better. [Hitting cleanup] is a new experience, but it’s really no different than anywhere I am in the lineup.”

The crucial third inning for the Pack started with back-to-back walks to Josh McLain and Xavier LeGrant. Following a flyout and a double steal that put the runners on second and third, Andrew Knizner grounded out to score McLain. Chance Shepard followed with a single that scored LeGrant. Pitarra followed with a single. After another double steal, Evan Mendoza walked to set up Palmeiro for his game-tying double.

“In that at-bat, I was looking for a fastball over the middle of the plate,” Palmeiro said. “I had a long at-bat the first time, so I saw everything they had. The pitcher made a mistake, and I was able to take¬†advantage of it.”

State took the lead in the fourth with a sacrifice fly by Knizner that scored McLain who led off the inning with a triple. After the Fighting Irish tied the game at six in the top of the fifth, the Pack responded with two more runs in the bottom half of the frame. Pitarra and Mendoza led off with a single and a walk respectively. Following a fielder’s choice by Palmeiro, Shane Shepard plated Pitarra with a single into center. Two batters later, Palmeiro scored on a wild pitch.

The Pack plated two more runs in the sixth before blowing its lead wide open with six runs in the seventh inning. Pitarra plated Knizner with an RBI double in the sixth before scoring on a single from Palmeiro two batters later.

In the seventh, Brock Deatherage drove McLain and LeGrant home with a double into right-center. Following a Knizner walk, Deatherage scored on a balk. Pitarra doubled to drive Knizner home. Mendoza followed with an RBI single that plated Pitarra. Three batters later, McLain singled to score Mendoza.

NC State will travel to Wilmington on Tuesday to take on UNC-Wilmington at 6 pm. The Wolfpack defeated the Seahawks on March 2 in Raleigh, 5-2. State will then travel to Tallahassee, Fla. for a three-game series against Florida State starting Friday.

[Box score]

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