March 15, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. — NC State head coach Elliott Avent was looking for a spark for his struggling offense. Harold Riggins provided an explosion instead.
Riggins had what you might call a big day at the plate in leading the Wolfpack past Buffalo 7-5. He walked to lead off the second inning, was hit by a pitch leading off the fifth, hit a two-run double in the sixth, and topped the day off with a grand-slam home run in the eighth.
“We need that from Harold,” Avent said. “That’s who he is. He was a big part of our offense last year, and we need that from him. It was great to see.”
The Wolfpack (9-7) needed the late-inning boost from Riggins. Bulls lefthander Cory Folk didn’t allow a hit until one out in the fifth, and held NC State to two runs on three hits before tiring in the eighth. He walked three and struck out five. Buffalo backed Folk with a three-run triple in the third inning from Alex Baldock and a two-run home run off the bat of Tom Murphy in the fifth.
Murphy’s home run came on the first at-bat against reliever Chris Overman (3-0), who settled down from there and allowed just one more baserunner, on an error in the sixth, in 4 2/3 innings. He retired 13 of the 15 men he faced and struck out three.
“That’s the longest we’ve ever asked Chris Overman to pitch for us,” Avent said. “I think the only bad pitch he made was the home run by Murphy. He tried to get a fastball down and it cut back over the plate. Aside from that, he was outstanding.”
The Pack got to Folk for two in the sixth when Chris Diaz hit a one-out single to right and Andrew Ciencin walked, setting the stage for Riggins, who drove a double off the wall in right, cutting the lead to 5-2.
Brett Williams led off the bottom of the eighth and singled to left. Diaz walked, finally chasing Folk from the game. Kevin Hughes came on in relief and Ciencin greeted him with a single to right-center, driving in Williams to make it 5-3. Maynard walked to load the bases for Riggins, who worked the count to 3-and-1 before homering to straightaway center field. Hughes (0-2) was charged with three of the runs in the inning and took the loss.
“Obviously, it’s a positive to come back and win,” Avent said. “We were down 5-0 in the sixth inning and came back to win, so that’s a positive. But we’re still kind of struggling to find ourselves as a team right now. Their confidence isn’t where it needs to be right now and they’re doubting themselves a little bit. You can’t play this game like that, so I’m hopeful that a win like this will give them a little spark.”
Or maybe an explosion, like the one Riggins provided.
NC State will return to action on Wednesday with a 3 p.m. game at Doak Field at Dail Park vs. George Mason. The game will be broadcast live on WKNC-FM (88.1) and will be available with videostreaming on-line on GoPack.com’s All-Access package. Live stats will be available on Gametracker. Just click the Gametracker icon on the baseball schedule page on GoPack.com.
As always, please visit GoPack.com regularly for full coverage of all NC State athletics news and events.