RALEIGH — N.C. State had a tough hill to climb before the start of Mondays contest against Florida State, and things only compounded with a shaky start by freshman Brad Stone.
With the No. 8 Seminoles (42-10 overall, 18-9 ACC) starting senior Scott Sitz on the mound, who came into the game with an 8-1 record and a 1.41 ERA, the No. 5 Wolfpack (39-13, 16-10) needed Stone to get off to a good start.
Instead, Stone gave up two walks and back-to-back home runs by Stephen McGee and Marcus Davis as the Seminoles jumped out to a commanding 4-0 lead and chased Stone after just two-thirds of an inning and rolled to an 8-4 win to take the series and leave Raleigh with the outright lead in the ACC Atlantic Division.
We were playing well but Florida State is playing very well, N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said. I told coach [Mike] Martin, Obviously youre very good, but have you been this good? I thought they were outstanding and I thought they played very well.
We got punched in the mouth today.
Sitz was stellar for the Seminoles, pitching 5 2/3 innings, giving up three earned runs and seven hits with four strikeouts to earn his ninth win. Davis continued to back him with another homer in the second inning as he and McGee finished with four hits, five RBI and four runs.
The Wolfpack had several chances to get back in the contest, but was not able to put up enough runs to rally. Tarran Senay and Trea Turner both put a surge into two pitches with two runners on in both situations, but both drives dropped at the warning track to end the third and sixth innings.
While they were able to score four runs, the Wolfpack left eight runners on base including four in scoring position. Though they werent able to finish the comeback with two potential homers that would have given N.C. State a 10-8 outcome, Avent said he was still happy with his teams effort late in the game.
I was so proud of our from the fourth inning on, he said. I felt like even though we were down by a good margin, we still believed it was our ballgame. Tarran Senay was shocked that ball didnt get out and Trea just got jammed a little bit. We felt like we had a chance, even though it may not seem like that.
With the win, Florida State moved to 39-0 when they score four or more runs on the season. With a series win against Clemson this weekend, the Seminoles would clinch the Atlantic Division.
But despite taking the series loss and dropping to third place in the division, Turner feels like the team is primed for another run in the postseason if they can finish the season strong against Duke in Durham starting on Thursday.
This is the same place we were last season and we went to a Super Regional and were two wins away from Omaha, he said. So its definitely heartbreaking, but I dont think it really matters. I think were just as good of a team as we were three days ago when everyone thought we might win this series.
I think well bounce back and be just fine.
Smith: 919-829-4841; @RCorySmith