NC State needed a decisive series win to sit alone in fourth place in the ACC. Wake Forest just wanted a win with a losing record in the conference.
The Wolfpack’s 6-1 victory Monday night sent the Demon Deacons home reeling after being swept for the first time all season. It gave the Pack a convincing win on ESPNU, showing the country what the No. 12 team in the country is capable of on both sides of the ball.
“It’s hard to sweep anybody in college baseball,” NC State coach Elliott Avent said. “It’s really hard to sweep a conference team as good as this conference is from top to bottom. … I’m just really proud of my ball club for battling all night.”
On the mound, Ryan Williamson gave up just four hits on the night – all four coming in the seventh inning. Williamson had a no-hitter going through six innings before Will Craig – the ACC’s leader in hitting (.466) and RBI (43) – broke through with a single in the seventh.
Despite giving up one run, Williamson earned the win with six strikeouts and five walks over 6 2/3 frames. With an offense that scored three runs off Wake starter Connor Johnstone, Williamson’s ability to escape jams on multiple occasions paid off for State.
“That breaking ball is one of the best that you’ll see at this level,” Wake coach Tom Walter said of Williamson. “He had two pitches really working for him and we just couldn’t figure him out. … I give him credit because I know what we can do offensively. He just shut us down.”
Craig’s single keyed the only offensive inning for the Deacs, registering just one run off the four hits.
Meanwhile, State tallied six runs behind a combined effort by the top of the lineup. The Pack’s first four hitters in Brock Deatherage, Josh McLain, Andrew Knizner and Preston Palmeiro for eight hits, four RBI and three runs.
Battling through a back injury, Deatherage reached base four times – twice on bunt singles – and stole a base after coming up empty on Saturday for the first time in 25 games.
“This is huge,” Deatherage said of the series sweep. “Hopefully we can carry that momentum over and keep picking up some ACC wins.”
Wake has two games against UNC Greensboro to get right before a home series against No. 4 Florida State. The Seminoles are 9-2 in the ACC and surging after a series win over Louisville, only the Cardinals’ third series loss of the year.
State has five straight road games starting with Elon on Tuesday before heading to Atlanta to take on No. 18 Georgia Tech. The final road trip has in-state rivalry implications with East Carolina hosting the Pack next Tuesday – a massive showdown any time the two teams clash.
“Any time you win, it breeds confidence,” Avent said. “We know we’ve got to get better. We know we’ve got to get healthy. … We’ll just see if we can keep playing good baseball.”
Follow NSJSports on Twitter.