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By Sam Walters

The Clemson Tigers suffered their first ACC series loss since March of 2023 this past weekend, losing two of three games to NC State.

Their first loss was a tight game on April 12, where the Tigers (29-6, 11-4 ACC) fell behind in the fourth inning 5-2. A two-run homer from catcher Jimmy Obertop, his ninth of the year, helped Clemson regain the lead. A costly error by third baseman Blake Wright allowed the Wolfpack (20-13, 10-8 ACC) to score multiple runs in the fifth inning, leading them to retake the lead. Even with a homer of his own from Wright, the Tigers stalled out and failed to retaliate. The Tigers went scoreless the rest of the game, and the Wolfpack extended their lead late to round the game off 11-8.

While the Tigers could not overwhelm NC State with their big hitters and electric offense, their pitching was the downfall of the day. Starting pitcher Matthew Marchal pitched three full innings, allowing five runs and five hits with an ERA of 14.06 on the day. While the Wolfpack didn’t have the finest pitching, Clemson could not outlast and outperform NC State’s defensive prowess.

After earning only their third ACC loss of the season, the Tigers hoped to strike back and tie the series. The worst outcome came for Clemson, who had no scores in a 4-0 loss, solidifying their first series loss of the season and breaking their 132-game scoring streak of at least one run every game. Two errors in the first inning helped the Wolfpack score their first two runs, and more errors in the third inning contributed to another run. They scored their fourth and final run off a single by third baseman Alec Makarewicz. 

NC State starting pitcher Dominic Fritton pitched 5.2 innings and allowed only three hits, zero runs, and one walk with six total strikeouts. Meanwhile, Clemson’s Ethan Darden pitched a complete game, Clemson’s first since Nick Hoffmann in 2021, allowing four runs (one earned) and seven hits in 9.0 innings.

With the series lost, the Tigers stayed determined to deny a series sweep. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, Clemson led a scoreless venture against the Wolfpack, earning a game back from a 7-0 victory. Freshman pitcher Aiden Knaak pitched 8.0 innings, keeping NC State scoreless and allowing only two hits, both infield singles and a walk. Knaak also pitched ten strikeouts and earned the win on the game, improving his record to 3-0 in his freshman year. Knaak earned ACC Pitcher-of-the-Week, his second weekly honor in a row, for his performance.

The Tigers found the board in the seventh inning, when shortstop Jacob Hinderleider hit a run-scoring single and second baseman nailed a two-run double. A squeeze bunt from first baseman Tryston McCladdie and a single from center fielder Cam Cannarella added three scores to the board, and the Tigers added two more in the bottom of the eighth. NC State could not get anything going, so they ended the game early and ended the series positively for Clemson.

Be sure to tune into TheROAR for pregame coverage at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, against UNC Charlotte!

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