March 10, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. – Chris Diaz’s blistering four RBI performance coupled with Carlos Rodon’s overwhelming pitching helped NC State storm past No. 10 Georgia Tech Saturday at Doak Field at Dail Park, building a 7-0 lead through five innings before the Yellow Jackets narrowed the margin late for an 8-5 final.
Diaz drove in half of the Wolfpack’s runs and scored one himself on a 3-for-4 day with a double and a stolen base to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. Rodon (3-0) started for the Pack (10-3, 1-1 ACC) and claimed the win, hanging six-consecutive zeros on the board before eventually giving up two in the seventh. The freshman finished the day allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits with six strikeouts and two walks over seven innings. Rodon sat down an impressive 11-straight Yellow Jacket (11-3, 1-1 ACC) batters between the first and the fourth.
“I felt calm,” said Rodon. “The fastball was working, I was hitting the outside part of the plate. When we scored early, it helped me relax. I just tried to throw strikes and trust the defense to get quick outs.”
“[Rodon] was really good,” said NC State head coach Elliott Avent. “The game started just like we wanted, and I think the last thing [Georgia Tech] wanted was Carlos out there with a lead. We took him out in the seventh, but I really don’t think he tired. A couple of things happened, Tech had a single, and it felt like the time to take him out.”
Jake Fincher provided the Pack’s only other multi-hit performance, a double and a single in a 2-for-4 outing with one RBI and a stolen base. Fincher now sits 4-for-7 through two games of the first ACC series of his career. Ryan Mathews drove in State’s other run on a sac fly in the fifth. Andrew Ciencin finished 0-for-1, drawing three walks and scoring two runs. Brett Austin scored a pair of runs as well, and hit his third double of the season.
“Diaz and Ciencin had big at-bats in the fifth with some great patience,” said Avent. “Today was a great win when we needed one. It was nice to see us play well after the ugly game yesterday.”
Ethan Ogburn (2) nabbed his second save in as many chances, holding Tech hitless for the last 2/3 and walking one. Chris Overman pitched 1 1/3, allowing three earned on three hits and walking one, snapping his 17 2/3 inning scoreless streak dating back to last season.
Tech made a late change before the game, tabbing Josh Heddinger (1-1) as the starting pitcher, and State took advantage immediately. Trea Turner led off the game with a single through the left side. Heddinger’s pick off throw to first sailed wide, allowing Turner to advance all the way to third. Heddinger hit Austin next to put runners on the corners. Ciencin drew a four pitch walk, loading the bases with no outs. A throw down to third by the catcher bounced into left field, scoring Turner and moving the runners to second and third. Danny Canela walked two pitches later to reload the bases. Diaz lifted a 2-2 pitch into left center for a single to score two, making it 3-0 and chasing Heddinger from the game.
Georgia Tech’s Zane Evans came on in relief with runners on first and second and no outs. Mathews hit into a double play chance, but Tech committed its third error of the inning when the throw from second flew by the first baseman, scoring Canela to extend the Pack lead to 4-0.
Austin and Ciencin led off the fifth with a pair of walks. Canela bunted them into scoring position, setting up Diaz for a two-RBI double into the left center gap, his third hit of the day. A wild pitch pushed Diaz to third with one away. Mathews sent a sac fly deep enough to center to score Diaz and push the lead to 7-0.
Tech broke through in the seventh for a pair of runs to cut the deficit to 7-2. Jake Davies led off with a single on the ground through the middle of the infield. The next batter, Sam Dove sent a deep drive to left center that bounced off the top of the wall for a double. Both runners eventually came home, Davies on a wild pitch, and Dove on a sac fly to right center, tracked down by Fincher with a difficult over the shoulder grab.
The Jackets added another run in the eighth, Overman’s first inning. After getting the first hitter to pop out, Overman gave up a pair of hard hit balls, the first a standup triple off the wall in right for Brandon Thomas. Thomas scored one batter later on a grounder to short. Davies sent a deep fly to center with two-outs, but Fincher had enough room to track it down to end the inning.
In the ninth, Tech made it interesting when Overman walked the lead off man. After a fly out to right, the Jackets hit a pair of singles to score one, cutting the lead to 8-4. Overman left the game for Ogburn, who walked his first batter faced, then allowed a sac fly to make it 8-5. Ogburn induced a grounder to first from the next batter to end it.
NC State hosts the deciding contest of the three-game set with 10th-ranked Georgia Tech Sunday at 1 p.m. ESPN3.com will stream GoPack.com’s coverage of the game. Radio coverage will be provided by 88.1 WKNC, fans can follow Twitter updates from @NCStateBaseball, and live stats will be available on GoPack.com.