March 31, 2012
Box Score | Box Score
RALEIGH, N.C. - Freshman Carlos Rodon carved his way through the Virginia batting order for over six innings, striking out a career-high 12, but a two-run homer in the seventh followed by a fateful lightning delay left No. 9 NC State with the bitter sting of a 5-2 loss Saturday night at Doak Field at Dail Park.
Rodon positively overpowered Virginia (18-9-1, 6-5 ACC), at one point striking out five batters in a row, and seven of eight during a run from the second to the fourth. A bunt single, followed by a Derek Fisher homerun in the seventh represented two of the four hits the freshman gave up on the evening. After Rodon struck out the next batter with a 96 mile per hour fastball, a lightning delay stopped the game for 33 minutes to end his night on a no decision after 6 2/3 innings without walking a batter.
"We played well, and with a lot of energy," said NC State head coach Elliott Avent. "Carlos was unbelievable, but Virginia came up with a huge hit right before the lightning. He was furious about it, but he shouldn't be. He pitched a great game, and had to come out on a bad break."
Rodon's 12 strikeouts give him 59 on the season, pushing him past UC Santa Barbara's Andrew Vasquez for the top spot among freshmen on the national leaderboard.
Danny Canela and Tarran Senay each hit solo homers for the only Wolfpack (18-7, 7-4 ACC) runs of the ballgame. Canela's second of the year gave State a 1-0 lead in the second. Senay's first roundtripper of the season made it 2-0 in the fourth.
Andrew Ciencin went 2-for-4 on the night. Jake Fincher and Chris Diaz hit triples for the Pack, but both runners were ultimately left stranded at third.
Anthony Tzamtzis (2-2) ended up with the loss on 1 1/3 innings, giving up two earned on two hits, striking out one. Travis Orwig pitched the ninth, allowing one earned on three hits and striking out one.
Virginia starter Branden Kline did his best to keep up with Rodon's torrid pace, lasting six innings before leaving during the lightning delay, striking out 10 while surrendering two earned runs on three hits and two walks. Reliever Shane Halley (2-1) notched the win on 1 2/3, giving up a pair of hits, walking one, and striking out one. Kyle Crockett and Justin Thompson each threw 2/3 of an inning, giving up a combined one hit.
Canela pounded the first pitch of the second inning to left center for a solo shot to hand State a 1-0 lead early. Kline rallied after the homer, striking out two of the next three batters to end the inning.
Kline worked his way out of a runner on third, one out jam in the bottom third. Matt Bergquist led off the inning with a shot to center, but was robbed of at least a double when Mitchell Shifflett tracked down the fly on the run at the warning track. Fincher followed by knocking a pitch to right, which went as a triple after Virginia's right fielder slipped to the turf attempting to field it. Kline battled for back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
An almost identical play to Fincher's triple happened for the Cavs in the top fourth. With one out, Colin Harrington sent a fly to center that went all the way to the wall when Fincher slipped in the outfield, Rodon's first hit allowed. Rodon avoided any damage by inducing a foul pop, then striking out the next batter.
Senay extended the Wolfpack lead to 2-0 in the fourth. After State's first two batters of the inning went quietly, Senay parked a solo shot over the wall in straightaway center, his first homerun of the year.
Virginia put runners on the corners with one out in the fifth, but Rodon escaped without giving up a run. An error at second helped Fisher come aboard, and a passed ball moved him to second. A single through the right side made it runners at first and third before Rodon rebounded with his 10th strikeout of the game, followed by a grounder to first to end the inning.
Fisher tied the game 2-2 with his two-run blast to left in the seventh. Jared King bunted his way to first as the lead off man. With one out, Fisher sent a game-tying homerun over the wall in left. A 33-minute lightning delay halted the game soon after, with two outs in the top seventh. Neither Rodon nor Kline would return.
Virginia took the lead in the eighth, set up by Keith Werman's triple. Werman led off the inning by pulling a pitch into the right field corner, just past John Gianis's outstretched glove. Chris Taylor singled to right, plating the go-ahead run. A hit batsman put runners on first and second with no outs. A groundball double play scored the run from third to stretch the lead to 4-2.
Diaz tripled to right center in the eighth with two outs to give State a chance, but Crockett relieved Halley and forced a groundball to escape the inning.
The Cavaliers padded the lead in the ninth, scoring to make it 5-2. Mike Papi singled to left, and moved to second when the ball bounded past the fielder to the wall. A dribbler up the middle moved Papi to third, and Nate Irving's single through the right side scored the run.
NC State plays the deciding game of its series with Virginia Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPN3.com. Radio coverage will be provided by 88.1 WKNC, fans can follow Twitter updates from @NCStateBaseball, and live stats will be available at GoPack.com.