DURHAM, N.C. - NC State scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to break a 2-2 tie and pull away from 14th-ranked Clemson for a 6-3 win in its ACC Tournament opener on Wednesday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The Wolfpack (43-13) fell behind 1-0 in the top of the second on a passed ball, but evened the score 1-1 in the bottom half and took a 2-1 lead through three. Clemson (39-18) tied the game 2-2 in the sixth. State broke the game open with four runs in the seventh. The Tigers added one in the ninth to set the final at 6-3.
Freshman starter Brad Stone took a no decision, but battled with reigning ACC Pitcher of the Week Daniel Gossett through the first five innings. Stone left with no outs in the fifth, allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits and a walk while striking out three. Reliever Josh Easley (5-2) took it the rest of the way, holding the Tigers to one earned on two hits over the final four frames, striking out three. Easley entered with the bases loaded and nobody out, but limited Clemson to one run.
Jake Fincher provided the Pack's only multi-hit effort, going 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Fincher improves to 54-for-56 on reaching base at least once in games this season. Bryan Adametz extended the ACC's longest active hitting streak to 13 games with a 1-for-4 effort.
Brett Austin drove in a pair during the Wolfpack's big inning on a double to the left center gap, his 19th double of the year. Grant Clyde hit a solo shot to left in the second. Jake Armstrong scored twice with some heady baserunning and contributed a 1-for-2 performance with a walk and a hit by pitch. Trea Turner and Logan Ratledge each scored once.
Gossett (9-4) took the loss on 6 1/3 innings, surrendering six runs, five earned, on six hits and two walks. Clemson reliever Patrick Andrews held the Pack hitless for the final 1 2/3.
Clemson opened the scoring with a run in the top of the second. Shane Kennedy reached with one out on a fielder's choice, then stole second and third. A swinging strikeout left him there with two away, but Kennedy crossed during the next at-bat on a passed ball. Clyde answered in the bottom of the second with his solo shot to left, the fourth of the year for the senior.
State took a narrow lead in the third, started by Armstrong's single down the left field line. A sac bunt moved him to second. Turner walked to put a pair of runners on board before a swinging strikeout for the second out. Austin knocked a one hopper to second that bounced away from the fielder. Armstrong ran aggressively to score from second on the play.
The Tigers responded in the sixth, but left the inning disappointed. Three consecutive base hits started the inning to load the bases with nobody out. Easley entered and induced a grounder to short, which Turner took himself to second before firing to first to complete the double play. One run scored on the play, and a swinging strikeout from the next batter left a runner stranded on third.
The Pack ripped the game open in the seventh. Adametz singled through the right side to start the inning. Armstrong was hit by a pitch to put two on. Gossett threw out the lead runner on a bunt from Ratledge for the first out, but a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position during the next at-bat. Turner walked to load the bases.
Fincher threaded a single through the left side to score the first run and Ratledge motored home when the relay throw was bobbled by Clemson's third baseman. Austin cranked a double to the left center gap to score the next two. All Clemson could muster in response was Garrett Boulware's solo shot to left in the ninth.
NC State returns to action on Friday at 11 a.m. against Miami on RSN, carried locally by FSCarolinas and Fox Sports South. Radio coverage will be handled by 88.1 WKNC. Fans can also follow along with live stats on GoPack.com, or on Twitter via @NCStateBaseball.