March 20, 2012
GREENVILLE, N.C.- Danny Canela came agonizingly close to hitting a two-out homer that would have put No. 11 NC State ahead in the ninth, but the ball stayed in the park to cap the Pack's winning streak at six games with a 6-5 loss at No. 25 East Carolina Tuesday.
Canela finished the game 2-for-5 with a double, one RBI, and one run scored. Ryan Mathews hit his fourth homerun of the year, a two-run shot to left, to put the Wolfpack (15-4, 5-1 ACC) on top 3-0 in the second. East Carolina (15-4, 0-0 C-USA) raced back to tie the game with three runs in the third, and took control with two in the sixth.
Andrew Ciencin and Chris Diaz had one RBI a piece in the losing effort. Ciencin pushed a run across on a fielder's choice in the ninth inning of the Pack's comeback bid. Diaz singled up the middle to score Canela for State's first run on his only hit of a 1-for-4 performance. Trea Turner went 1-for-4 with two runs and two stolen bases to improve to an NCAA-leading 21-for-21 on steal attempts.
Ryan Wilkins started the game and left in the fourth for a no decision after 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, all earned, on five hits and one walk, striking out four. D.J. Thomas (0-1) took the loss on 1 2/3 innings, surrendering two earned on four hits, striking out one. Danny Healey pitched 2/3 of an inning in the sixth, walking two and striking out one while holding the Pirates hitless. Chris Overman shut out ECU over the final two innings, giving up two hits, striking out one, and walking one.
Reliever Andy Smithmyer (2-0) picked up the win on three one-hit innings with five strikeouts. Drew Reynolds (7) cashed in the save, allowing one earned run on one hit in the ninth. Starter Jeff Hoffman went five innings, surrendering four runs, three earned, over five innings. Hoffman gave up five hits and one walk while striking out a pair.
State pounced in the second inning, scoring three runs on four hits. Canela led the inning off with a double to left, when the Pirate fielder incorrectly took a step in, then had the ball fly over his outstretched glove into the corner. Diaz plated him two pitches later on a single up the middle to make it 1-0. Mathews pounded the first pitch he saw over the fans in left field for a two-run homer to extend the lead to 3-0.
ECU pieced together a rally to even the score in the bottom of the third. Wilkins gave up singles to the first two batters of the inning, then battled back to retire two in a row. With two outs, John Wooten singled to score a run. Reynolds followed with a bases-clearing double to the right center gap, tying the game 3-3.
The Pirates took the lead in the fourth on a two-out rally. With two outs, Wilkins's 0-2 pitch hit Ben Fultz in the leg. Fultz stole second and scored on a Philip Clark bounder up the middle. Matt Bergquist made the tough play to get to the ball behind second, but bounced the throw home which got away from Canela to score the go-ahead run, 4-3.
State tied it up 4-4 in the fifth on Canela's two-out infield single. Bergquist kicked things off by reaching on a fielding error by the shortstop. Turner followed him by beating out a double-play ball, then stealing second. Ciencin grounded to third next, but the throw across bounced and the first baseman appeared to bobble the ball coming off the bag. The umpires convened and ruled Ciencin safe, setting up Canela to drive in Turner on a sharp hit that ricocheted off the back of Hoffman's foot towards third.
East Carolina answered with the game-winning runs in the sixth. Tim Younger doubled down the right field line to lead off. After a fly out, Jack Reinheimer laid down a sac bunt to advance Younger, and Thomas nearly made a play to get the lead runner. Younger dodged the tag from Turner, setting up runners on the corners with one out. The next batter singled to give ECU a 5-4 lead and chase Thomas from the game. Healey came in and walked the first batter to load the bases, then threw a wild pitch to make it 6-4, before getting the next two outs without any more damage.
State made a final push in the ninth when Turner came aboard after being hit by a pitch with one out. Brett Austin singled behind him to put runners on first and second. Ciencin hit into a possible double play, but the throw from second stayed under the first baseman's glove, allowing Turner to score and cut the lead to 6-5. With two out, Canela gave the Pack one last chance, smashing a 2-2 pitch to deep left center that stayed in the park for the final out.
A three-game set at No. 7 North Carolina awaits the Wolfpack this weekend. Games will be played Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Saturday's game will be televised on the ACC Network, Sunday's on ESPN3, and Monday's will be broadcast on ESPNU. Radio coverage for all three games will be provided by 88.1 WKNC, fans can follow Twitter updates from @NCStateBaseball, and live stats will be available at GoPack.com.