DURHAM, N.C. – NC State built a 5-0 lead behind seven shutout innings from Ryan Williamson and Eric Peterson then held off a late Blue Devil rally to earn the 6-2 victory over the Duke baseball team Saturday afternoon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
In his second career start, Williamson surrendered one hit over three scoreless innings. Duke (19-17, 8-9 ACC) had its chances early as the freshman left-hander walked four and hit two batters, but the Blue Devils were unable to come up with the key hit.
“It’s been our hang up all year,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “In certain ball games, we get runners in scoring position and we just don’t get that key hit. We gave ourselves chances early. We gave ourselves a chance in the first. Gave ourselves a real good chance in the third and the fourth, and we just didn’t come up with the hit. That was the difference.”
Peterson (3-2) then came on in relief and stymied the Duke bats for four innings before the Blue Devils scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth. Peterson gave up two runs on three hits while striking out nine and walking two batters over 4.2 innings of work.
“I thought Peterson was really, really good for them,” Pollard added. “He was very good and he was tough to hit.”
The Blue Devils registered just one hit over the first seven frames, but had their share of scoring opportunities early. Duke stranded 10 runners for the game, including bases-loaded opportunities in both the first and third innings.
In his second start coming off an injury, junior Trent Swart kept NC State (20-14, 6-11 ACC) off the board for the first three innings. Swart walked four, but was able to work out of several jams, amassing six strikeouts while limiting the Wolfpack to two hits.
Duke was unable to keep the Wolfpack at bay in the fifth as NC State plated a pair off of junior reliever Andrew Istler (3-5), who suffered the loss after yielding two runs on two hits and two walks over 1.1 innings. A leadoff walk to Trea Turner kickstarted the NCSU offense, which received an RBI single from Andrew Knizner and a sacrifice fly from Preston Palmeiro to take a 2-0 lead.
NC State struck for three more runs on two hits, a walk and two hit batters in the sixth to stake the 5-0 advantage. With two out and the bases loaded, Logan Ratledge sent a two-run single up the middle, his second hit of the game, to score Garrett Suggs and Brett Austin. Chance Shepard proceeded to drive an RBI double to left to account for the Wolfpack’s fifth run of the contest.
“I don’t think we necessarily pitched poorly, but we gave them some free offense.” Pollard said. “We walked some guys. We hit some guys. Therefore we extended innings so when they did get that hit, there were runners on.”
Senior Jordan Betts ricocheted his team-leading 13th double of the year off the wall in left center to begin the eighth, and would cross home plate two batters later on a Ryan Deitrich RBI double. Drama ensued as the umpires overturned what was originally ruled an Andy Perez two-run homer in favor of an RBI ground-rule double.
A Carlos Rodon pinch-hit RBI single gave the Wolfpack an insurance run in the top of the ninth and closer D.J. Thomas recorded the final four outs to pick up his second save of the season.
Duke and NC State wrap up the series Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.