RALEIGH — Runs have been at a premium for N.C. State’s baseball team in ACC games this season. At least when the Wolfpack isn’t playing Wake Forest.
N.C. State hammered Wake Forest 10-2 on Saturday night to take the series from the reeling Deacons and take a step closer to getting into the ACC tournament.
The Wolfpack (29-20, 11-15 ACC) won its fourth straight conference game and moved one game behind Wake Forest (26-24, 12-14) for one of the final spots in the ACC tournament at the end of this month in Greensboro.
Catcher Brett Austin homered and drove in three runs as N.C. State scored double-digits for just the second time this season in an ACC game and the first time in a win.
The two-game scoring total vs. Wake Forest (19 runs) is more than N.C. State has produced in any three-game conference series this season.
“That’s just baseball, man,” Austin said. “It just kind of works out that way. We didn’t really swing the bats well earlier in the season but it’s a good time to put it together.”
In its first 24 ACC games this season, N.C. State scored 95 runs, or an average of less than 4 runs per game. In the past two games, the Wolfpack has scored 9 and 10 runs, respectively, against a Wake team that has lost seven straight games.
After a slow start, N.C. State is headed in the opposite direction of Wake Forest, which started 10-4 in ACC play but has lost 10 of the past 12.
“We know we’re a good team and we know we always play better at the end of the year,” N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said.
N.C. State starter Logan Jernigan (6-3) got all the run support he needed from Austin but Wake Forest’s defense helped, too. Shortstop Conor Keniry committed three errors, two in the third inning, which cost Wake four runs.
A two-run double by left fielder Grant Shambley gave Wake a 2-0 lead in the second inning but N.C. State countered with nine runs over the next two innings.
Garrett Suggs reached on an error to start the third inning. Trea Turner moved him to third with a double down the leftfield line. Both players scored on a Keniry throwing error on a Logan Ratledge infield single to the shortstop.
After Andrew Knizner reached on a fielder’s choice, Austin drove a home run to right center for his third homer of the season and second in five games.
“He has had a good season but he’s hot right now,” Avent said of Austin, who’s hitting .322.
Another throwing error by Keniry allowed two runs to score in the fourth. Knizner followed with an RBI double and then scored when Austin singled to center.
Knizner finished with two RBIs and scored twice. Ratledge (4-5) had four singles with a run scored and an RBI. Preston Palmiero (3-3, RBI) added a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning.
Wake starter Jack Fischer (4-6) only lasted 3 1/3 innings but seven of the nine runs he gave up were unearned.
N.C. State will go for the series sweep on Monday (6 p.m., ESPNU). It hasn’t swept an ACC opponent since the first conference series of the season.