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Brown, Britt combine on three-hit shutout of Fighting Irish
DURHAM, N.C. (theACC.com) – NC State literally continued to pitch its NCAA Tournament case on Thursday, blanking third-seeded Notre Dame by a 3-0 score in the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship opener for both teams.
Freshman starter Brian Brown and junior reliever Curt Britt combined to limit the Fighting Irish to three infield hits while striking out 14 batters as the sixth-seeded Wolfpack won for the 11th time in its last 13 games and earned a leg up in Championship round-robin pool play.
Notre Dame (35-20, 0-1 Pool B) plays its second tournament game Friday at 11 a.m. against seventh-seeded Virginia (34-20, 0-1), while NC State (32-20, 1-0) faces second-seeded Miami (43-13, 1-0) in the Friday 7 p.m. game.
Brown (7-3) departed after throwing 105 pitches in a stellar six scoreless innings in which he allowed two hits while walking two and striking out a career-high 10 batters. Five of those strikeouts came in succession in the second and third innings, with his two Ks in the second stalling a Notre Dame threat after the Irish had loaded the bases.
Britt followed suit in earning his second save of the season, working the final three innings and allowing just one hit and no walks before striking out four. Brown and Britt combined to retire 15 straight Notre Dame batters and 17 of the last 18.
The Wolfpack duo upstaged Notre Dame starter Scott Kerrigan (3-5) and reliever Scott Tully, who combined on a nine-hitter and struck out 12. Tully retired the final 11 batters he faced after giving up a bunt single to open his relief stint in the top of the sixth inning.
After waiting out a rain delay that pushed back the start of the game by 2½ hours, the Wolfpack played like a team anxious to get started in the top of the first, tagging Kerrigan for four base hits – including RBI singles by Joe Dunand and Ryne Willard – and a quick 2-0 lead.
Andrew Knizner, who contributed one of NC State’s four first-inning hits, came back with a two-out, RBI single in the top of the second to put the Wolfpack up by a 3-0 score.
Knizner and Willard each finished with two hits for NC State.