Junior infielder LuJames Groover III passes the ball during the game against NJIT at Doak Field at Dail Park on Sunday, March 5, 2023. The Wolfpack beat the Highlanders 6-5 to sweep the series.

After getting offensively shut down the night before in its series-opening 2-1 loss to No. 14 Virginia, NC State baseball was looking to reverse its fortunes in the second game of its series against the Cavs on Friday, March 17. 

However, the Cavaliers doubled down on their defensive efforts from the previous night, shutting out the Wolfpack 7-0 to claim the series in a statement win. 

Once again, NC State (14-5, 1-4 ACC) found itself struggling against Virginia’s (17-1, 4-1 ACC) formidable pitching staff and was unable to get anything going offensively. Meanwhile, the Pack’s starting pitcher, junior right-handed pitcher Matt Willadsen, was dealing in his seven innings on the mound, but after his whopping 118 pitches, the Cavs ambushed Willadsen’s reinforcements. Virginia scored six runs in the final two frames to seal the series win. 

Willadsen has been a bright spot amidst an at-times inconsistent NC State defense so far this season, and he proved that again today. The junior threw a gem in his seven innings, flaming nine strikeouts while only relinquishing three hits and one earned run. In the end, he was the only thing keeping the Wolfpack in the game, and as soon as he made his final trek to the dugout, Virginia rode up the score. 

The Cavs attacked Willaden’s replacement, junior righty Justin Lawson, right off the bat at the top of the eighth. A double with a runner on second doubled the Cavs’ 1-0 lead, and one at-bat later, a two-run shot put the score at 4-0, forcing head coach Elliot Avent to make his second pitching change of the inning. 

Junior left-handed pitcher Rio Britton was called upon after Lawson, and even though he stopped the bleeding at 5-0, the damage had been done. The Cavaliers kept up the pressure in the following frame, adding two more runs via an array of doubles and throwing errors to pad its lead at 7-0. 

With NC State’s inability to get any of its own offense generated, Virginia’s multi-run lead it earned in the final innings was never in jeopardy. Starting Cavs pitcher Brian Edginton secured his fourth of the year by throwing four strikeouts in 6.1 scoreless innings. After that, a bevy of Virginia pitchers got the job done, frustrating the Wolfpack by stringing along the shutout in the final four frames. 

NC State’s chances on the day were few and far between, but were present nonetheless. One of the Pack’s best chances came in the first, when a combined effort from multiple batters almost gave the red-and-white the early lead. However, NC State was thwarted by Virginia’s stingy defense and pitching staff — a trend that continued all day long. 

The fourth inning saw the Wolfpack do the same thing — put multiple runners in scoring position, this time with only one out. But again, the Cavs turned a likely scoring scenario for the home side into a few more anticlimactic outs, sending NC State back to the drawing board. 

NC State got the final two hits of its six total in the bottom of the eighth, however, hits by two of the Pack’s hottest hitters, freshman designated hitter Cannon Peebles and sophomore catcher Jacob Cozart didn’t get the Wolfpack much closer to preventing the shutout. Once it warded off the Pack once again in the eighth, Virginia nabbed the final three outs in the following frame to finish off the 7-0 win. 

Ultimately, Virginia’s bullpen shut down the Pack’s explosive arsenal of batters for the second day in a row, and for the second week in a row, NC State looks for a consolation win in its series finale. 

NC State’s final game against the Cavaliers is set for Saturday, March 18 at 2 p.m. 

Sports Editor

Hi, my name is Ethan Bakogiannis, Sports Editor at the Technician and a sophomore studying Business Administration and Sport Management. I love all sports but mainly cover tennis and soccer for TechSports.

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