Despite a determined ninth inning rally, the No. 2 Louisville baseball team could not overcome its defensive miscues in a 3-2 road loss to NC State on Friday night at Doak Field.
The Cardinals (41-14, 24-5 ACC) committed a season-high five errors and allowed two unearned runs as the Wolfpack (31-19, 15-13 ACC) evened the series. Louisville will close the regular season and attempt to win its 10th straight ACC series in on Saturday at 1 p.m., ET (RSN/ESPN3) in the weekend finale against NC State.
Facing a three-run deficit entering the ninth inning, the Cardinals found some late offense with a two-run single by senior Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.). However, that was as close as they could get as Wolfpack closer Tommy DeJuneas got a pair of strikeouts to end the game.
DeJuneas earned his sixth save of the season and closed out a win for freshman lefthander Brian Brown, who improved to 6-3 on the season after striking out seven and allowing just two hits in 5.1 shutout innings. Louisville freshman lefty Brendan McKay (Darlington, Pa.) suffered just his second loss and dropped to 8-2 on the season despite matching a career-high with 12 strikeouts and allowing just one earned run on four hits.
The Wolfpack struck first on Friday night when Logan Ratledge connected for a two-run triple to score Bubby Riley and Jake Fincher. Riley started the inning with a single to center and later advanced to second on a fielding error by Louisville freshman shortstop Devin Hairston (Lexington, Ky.). After a wild pitch moved both runners up, Ratledge sent a 1-2 offering from McKay off the top of the left field wall for the 2-0 lead.
NC State added to its lead in the sixth inning plating their second unearned run of the game when Preston Palmeiro scored from third on a throwing error by freshman catcher Colby Fitch (Rocheport, Mo.). With runners on the corners and two outs, Joe Dunand took off for second base and Fitch’s throw was off target getting beyond Hairston and into centerfield allowing Palmeiro to easily score for the 3-0 cushion.
The score remained that way until the ninth inning when sophomore Corey Ray (Chicago, Ill.) started the Cardinals’ final push with a one-out single to right off Will Gilbert. McKay followed with a double down the left field line and was replaced by pinch runner Logan Taylor (Lexington, Ky.). After DeJuneas replaced Gilbert on the mound, he was greeted by Lucas driving his first offering up the middle to score both Ray and Taylor. From there, DeJuneas settled in to get strikeouts against sophomore Will Smith (Louisville, Ky.) and Blake Tiberi (Taylor Mill, Ky.).
Following Saturday’s game, the Cardinals will return to Louisville and begin preparations for the 2015 ACC Championship on May 19-24 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.