DURHAM, N.C. – Two sixth-inning runs proved to be the difference as No. 4 NC State held off No. 9 Duke, 2-1, to claim the series victory Saturday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field.
Following five scoreless frames, NC State (31-7, 14-5 ACC) plated a pair in the sixth and received solid pitching to keep Duke (30-10, 12-7 ACC) from tying the game.
“Folks that were here today got treated to a really good college baseball game,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “Two really good teams going toe-to-toe.”
Starter Mitch Stalling (3-3) pitched well in the loss, allowing the two runs on seven hits. Stallings fanned nine batters without issuing a walk and allowed just three Wolfpack baserunners to reach scoring position in his outing.
Ethan DeCaster followed Stallings’ performance with 2.2 shutout innings. For the season, DeCaster has allowed one run over 31.0 innings in relief.
NC State received yet another solid start from Brian Brown (6-0), who pitched 5.2 scoreless innings. Kent Klyman yielded one run on four hits before Joe O’Donnell recorded the final two outs for his eighth save of the season.
Following five scoreless frames, Josh McLain greeted the sixth with a leadoff double then scored on Will Wilson’s RBI triple. With one out, Evan Edwards flared a fly ball to shallow right field. After making the catch, Griffin Conine threw out Wilson at the plate, but the call was overturned after replay to give NC State a 2-0 lead.
“[Brian] Brown threw great,” Pollard added. “Mitch [Stallings] threw great. All three relievers threw great. There was some timely hitting by both clubs. Obviously a close play at the plate that wound up being the difference in the ballgame.”
Conine’s third hit of the day was a two-out double in the eighth. An NC State throwing error the next batter allowed Conine to cross home, making it a 2-1 ballgame late, but the Wolfpack bullpen held down the stretch.
Conine also singled in both the second and the sixth, accounting for three of Duke’s nine hits. Michael Smiciklas went 2-for-4 with a stolen base.
“We had an improved approach and something we can build off,” Pollard added. “We swung the bat well off of two quality left-handers that had very different styles. We were a swing away a couple different times. Now it’s a matter of trying to string that offense together.”
Duke and NC State conclude the weekend at 1 p.m., Sunday, April 21.