Wolfpack levels series with Clemson, rubber match Sunday

Carlos Rodon tossed 8.0 innings of three-hit ball and No. 17 N.C. State escaped a jam in the ninth inning to defeat Clemson 3-1 in front of 5,619 fans at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Wolfpack, who evened the series 1-1, improved to 23-10 overall and 10-7 in the ACC. The Tigers dropped to 20-16 overall and 9-8 in ACC play.

Despite Rodon’s strong outing, the Tigers scored a run in the sixth inning to take a 1-0 lead. But Trea Turner’s two-out, two-run double in the seventh inning gave the Wolfpack the lead for good. The Tigers put two runners in scoring position with no outs in the ninth inning, but both runners were stranded there and N.C. State held on for the two-run victory.

Rodon (6-0), who threw 129 pitches, allowed just three hits, one run, and four walks with eight strikeouts to earn the win. Chris Overman retired both batters he faced in the ninth inning to record his third save of the year. N.C. State’s four pitchers combined to limit Clemson to 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, 1-for-10 with two outs, and only five hits overall.

Tiger starter Dominic Leone (5-3) suffered the loss. He gave up nine hits, three runs, and one walk with seven strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched.

The Tigers broke through with the game’s first run in the sixth inning. Richie Shaffer drew a one-out walk on six pitches and Phil Pohl belted an 0-2 pitch down the right-field line for an opposite-field double. Shaffer was able to score on the play on an error by Brett Austin in right field.

Ryan Mathews led off the seventh inning with a double off the wall in left-center and Brett Austin struck out. Andrew Ciencin hit a chopper to Shaffer at third, but the ball hit the lip of the grass, allowing Ciencin to reach on the bad-hop single as Mathews stayed on second base. Pinch-hitter John Gianis grounded out to second to move both runners up a base, then Turner lined a two-out double to right-center to score Mathews and Ciencin, giving the Wolfpack a 2-1 lead.

In the eighth inning, Danny Canela led off with a single through the left side and advanced to second on Chris Diaz’s sacrifice bunt. Tarran Senay then lofted a high flyball to deep left-center that Garrett Boulware could not catch. Canela scored from second on Senay’s double.

Jay Baum led off the ninth inning with a bloop single to center on an 0-2 pitch, as he became Clemson’s first leadoff batter of an inning to reach base in the game. Joe Costigan then ripped a 1-2 pitch through the right side for a single to advance Baum to third. After pinch-runner Tyler Slaton stole second to put the potential tying run in scoring position with no outs, Jon McGibbon struck out swinging on a 3-2 breaking ball out of the strikezone for out #1. Pinch-hitter Brad Felder struck out looking for out #2, then Jason Stolz popped up to second to end the game.

Mathews and Ciencin led N.C. State’s nine-hit performance with two hits and one run apiece, while Turner had a game-high two RBIs.

Costigan came off the bench to go 2-for-2, while Shaffer scored Clemson’s only run. Shaffer, who went 0-for-3 with a walk, saw his 10-game hitting streak come to an end.

Clemson and N.C. State will play game-three of the three-game series on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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