March 26, 2012
Box Score | Box Score
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - No. 9 NC State's comeback bid, scrapping back from an early 5-1 deficit behind a masterful relief effort from Anthony Tzamtzis, came to an end on a two-out homerun in the seventh as No. 5 North Carolina outlasted the Wolfpack 7-4 in Monday's series-finale at Boshamer Stadium.
"We got ourselves in a lot of early trouble, and we pitched out of some of it, but [North Carolina] came up with big hits when they needed them," said NC State head coach Elliott Avent. "Tzamtzis settled the game down, and performed so well. I was thrilled with his performance in a high-pressure situation."
Tzamtzis relieved starter Logan Jernigan (3-1) in the third and shut the Tar Heels (19-5, 7-2 ACC) out for 4 1/3 innings, at one point retiring 10-straight batters, before Jacob Stallings hit his two-run shot to left. Tzamtzis finished the game with a no decision on 5 2/3, giving up two earned on three hits and two walks, striking out seven. Jernigan took the loss after allowing five runs, four earned, on two hits and one walk over the first 2 1/3 innings.
Jake Fincher starred at the plate for the Pack (16-6, 6-3 ACC) going 3-for-4 with a double and a run. Fincher finished with six hits on the series, the best effort of his freshman season. Bryan Adametz hit a triple and scored once in his 1-for-2 day after replacing John Gianis in the third. Chris Diaz had two RBIs and a walk in a 1-for-2 performance. Logan Ratledge hit an RBI to score Adametz in the sixth.
Trea Turner went 1-for-4 with a walk and improved to 25-for-25 on stolen bases, stretching his lead on the national leaderboard to four and inching within one of a two-way tie for third on State's all-time single season list.
Reliever R.C. Orlan (4-0) claimed the win on 3 2/3 innings, holding the Pack to one earned run on three hits while striking out three. Starter Benton Moss went 2 1/3, giving up two runs, neither earned, on four hits and one walk. Michael Morin (8) earned the save as the fourth Tar Heel pitcher of the ballgame, holding State hitless over the final 2 1/3 with three strikeouts.
"We had our chances," said Avent. "We had runners on, but we have to get better. We're not quite where we want to be yet. I thought our guys played hard and smart for the most part, but we have a ways to go."
The loss marks the first time this season that NC State has dropped consecutive games.
State struck immediately, taking a 1-0 lead on Diaz's sac fly in the first. Turner led off with a single on the ground up the middle, then stole second. Andrew Ciencin drew a one-out walk behind him, putting two on. Danny Canela hit a two-hopper to first, but the UNC first baseman slipped on the play, loading the bases on a fielding error. Diaz lifted a pitch to shallow center to score Turner from third.
Jernigan walked UNC's first batter of the game. One out later, Tommy Coyle reached when Matt Bergquist struggled to handle a bouncer to the right side. Coyle stole second to put two runners in scoring position with one away. Stallings grounded to short, scoring the run, and made it to first when Diaz bobbled the ball on his way to make the throw. Jernigan rallied with consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.
In the second, UNC took command on a two-out grand slam by Coyle. Jernigan gave up a single, walked a batter, and hit one to load the bases. A strikeout with one out and the bases loaded helped the Wolfpack cause, but Coyle drove a 2-1 fastball over the right field fence to make it 5-1.
The Pack responded with a run in the third to close the gap to 5-2. Brett Austin led off with a single, and Ciencin caught a break when a fly to shallow left fell between three converging fielders for an error. Diaz hit an RBI single to center that the fielder nearly corralled, but the ball came free on his diving attempt to score the run from second. Moss left the game there, and Orlan struck out back-to-back hitters to end the inning.
State continued to chip away in the sixth, granted some time to work by Tzamtzis's effective relief effort. Adametz smoked a one-out triple over the center fielder to the wall in left center. Ratledge pinch hit for Tarran Senay, hitting a dribbler to the left side that scored Adametz to narrow the deficit to 5-3.
The Wolfpack got another back on a gift in the seventh. Fincher led off with a single to left, followed by Turner drawing a walk. Austin hit into a groundball double play to put Fincher on third with two outs. Ciencin grounded to second, but the rushed throw sailed into the stands, allowing Fincher to make it 5-4.
Jacob Stallings hit a two-out, two-run homer to left in the seventh to push UNC ahead 7-4. Tzamtzis struck out the first two batters of the inning, but gave up a two-out single through the right side to Coyle. Stallings turned on a 2-2 pitch to retake control for the Heels.
The Pack managed to get a pair of runners on with no outs in the eighth on a lead-off walk by Diaz and a hit batsman, but Morin retired the next three in order to end the threat, and cruised through the final frame in order for the save.
NC State returns to the diamond on Wednesday, March 28 to host East Carolina at 6 p.m. Radio coverage for the game will be provided by 88.1 WKNC, fans can follow Twitter updates from @NCStateBaseball, and live stats will be available on GoPack.com.