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Tigers upset by Wolfpack in first series loss of the season

Rhylie Ladoucer
Freshmen infielder Jarren Purify celebrates being called safe on a squeeze play in the 7-0 NC State series finale win on Sunday, April 15.

The No. 6 Clemson Tigers (29-6, 11-4 ACC) saw their first series loss of the season to the NC State Wolfpack (20-13, 10-8 ACC) this past weekend. Following an 11-8 loss on Friday, the second game of the series saw the Wolfpack shut Clemson out, inevitably winning them the series and ending the Tigers’ 15-series win streak.

Clemson’s 132-game stretch of scoring at least one run, which dates back to the 2022 season, ended with this loss.

Both teams came into the series opener hungry, as Clemson had lost its previous contest to Charlotte, and NC State was on a five-game losing streak. However, the Wolfpack would show they had a bigger appetite.

While Clemson looked strong at-bat and was up 6-5 in the fifth inning, NC State kept things hot and scored four additional runs in the top of the fifth inning to recover from a costly two-out error.

It looked rough for the Tigers, but Blake Wright’s leadoff home run and Nolan Nawrocki’s RBI groundout in the bottom of the fifth inning cut the Wolfpack’s lead to two points at 9-7.

Ultimately, NC State would run away with the win as two batters hit run-scoring singles in the eighth and ninth innings to end the first game at 11-8.

In game two, the pitching performances and bullpen for NC State were vital components of the Wolfpack’s win, as three pitchers combined for five hits, zero runs and five walks.

Despite completing the entire game, Clemson’s starting pitcher, Ethan Darden, took his first loss of the season. The sophomore pitched a career-high innings and became the first Clemson pitcher to pitch a complete game since 2021. His totals for the game were four runs, one earned and zero walks.

The Wolfpack scored two unearned runs off of two Clemson errors in the first inning, while another NC State run was later scored in the third due to two additional Clemson errors.

Graduate infielder Alec Makarewicz gave the Wolfpack a 4-0 lead in the fifth inning with a run-scoring single to seal the away team’s victory.

But even with a broken record, the series finale saw Clemson produce a redemptive white sheet, taking down NC State by a commanding 7-0.

Freshman pitcher Aidan Knaak continued to impress on the mound after being named ACC Co-Pitcher of the Week last week; he finished with a stat line of a career-high eight innings pitched, two hits, zero runs, one walk and 10 strikeouts to tie his career-high.

With only four hits for Clemson and a singular hit for NC State heading into the seventh inning, the game was off to a sluggish start for both sides offensively, but the Tigers moved things along by scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh.

Jarren Purify and Jacob Hinderleider continued to impress at-bat after great fifth-inning performances, scoring in the eighth to secure the victory.

Clemson’s strong performance in the series finale echoed head coach Erik Bakich’s post-game sentiment from the day prior.

“Certainly feels like we’ve hit a rough patch this week; we’ve had a tough week. But that doesn’t have to lead into any further. We need to keep our heads up and chests out,” he said.

“Just because we didn’t play well today, yesterday and Tuesday, it doesn’t have to leak into tomorrow.”

The Tigers are back in action at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Friday, April 19, at 6 p.m. following a mid-week game against Charlotte on Tuesday, April 16, at 5 p.m.

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Angelo Feliberty
Angelo Feliberty, Senior Reporter
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