That should do it.
N.C State erased any doubt about its NCAA tournament fate with a 12-10 win over Clemson on Friday night to take the ACC series from the Tigers.
The Wolfpack (33-21, 16-13 ACC) has played its way out of a hole with 13 wins in the past 14 games and eight straight in conference play. The win, coupled with Thursday’s 3-2 decision, gives coach Elliott Avent’s team a series win over top 10 RPI team and clinches a winning record in ACC play. Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 48 teams in 1987, N.C. State has never missed the NCAA tournament with a winning conference record.
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It was not without nervous moments in the ninth inning. N.C. State took a 12-2 lead into the last frame, but the Tigers (38-17, 16-13) rallied for eight runs. Senior first baseman Andrew Cox hit a grand slam off of Tommy DeJuneas to make it 12-10. Sean Adler, who got the save in Thursday’s win, came on to strike out Logan Davidson and Jordan Greene to end the game.
A pair of home runs did the early damage for the Wolfpack before a seven-run rally in the eighth inning. Third baseman Evan Mendoza hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie. The Tigers cut the lead to 4-2 in the sixth with a run-scoring single by Andrew Cox but right fielder Brock Deatherage added a solo home run in the seventh and then the floodgates opened in the eighth. The Wolfpack got four runs in the eighth on an inside-the-park home run by freshman second baseman Will Wilson.
The Wolfpack was 20-20 overall and 8-13 in ACC play after getting swept by last-place Boston College on April 23. Since then, Avent’s team has swept Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh in conference play and won the first two games from the Tigers.
It has been a difficult season at the plate for Deatherage. The junior from Gibsonville entered the game with a .217 average and was pulled in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game. But he turned on a pitch from Clemson starter Alex Eubanks and yanked it past the scoreboard in right for his third home run of the season.
N.C. State junior Brian Brown (4-1) gave up two runs in six innings to pick up the win. The Wolfpack bullpen was sturdy until giving up eight runs in the ninth.
Clemson gained some sort of revenge by defeating the Pack 15-6 on Saturday, knocking N.C. State from possibly getting a No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament.
The ACC tournament, which expanded to 12 teams this year, starts on Tuesday in Louisville, Ky.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio