April 17, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. — Brett Williams killed a North Carolina rally with a spectacular double play from center field Sunday, and NC State used that momentum-changer to roll up a 10-2 victory over the Tar Heels, completing a three-game sweep at Doak Field at Dail Park.
With a crowd of 2828 watching, NC State improved to 21-16 overall and 8-10 in the ACC. North Carolina dropped to 30-8 overall and 12-6 in the conference.
The crowd was the fourth-largest since Doak Field at Dail Park was renovated in 2003-04, and the three-game series attendance of 7330 was the third-largest series crowd since the renovation.
Sunday’s crowd saw NC State play perhaps its best game of the season. Cameron Conner went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs, and John Gianis tied his career high for hits with a 4-for-5 game. Pratt Maynard, Andrew Ciencin and Chris Diaz had two hits apiece.
Righthander Rob Chamra started and carried a shutout into the sixth inning, allowing head coach Elliott Avent to save his bullpen until the late innings, and freshman lefthander D.J. Thomas pitched 2 2/3 innings of shutout relief.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of a team than I am of this one right now,” Avent said. “To bounce back from a disappointing series in Miami last weekend and play as well as we did against a strong team like North Carolina just says so much about how much this team has grown. They’re figuring out what it takes to win at this level.”
Chamra and UNC starter Chris Munnelly dominated the action through the first four innings. The Wolfpack loaded the bases in the second and third innings but could not score, and then Williams turned the game around with his spectacular play in the fourth.
With one down in the inning, Colin Moran and Jesse Wierzbicki hit back-to-back singles up the middle to put runners on first and third. Chaz Frank followed with a line drive into the gap in right-center field, splitting the outfielders. Moran and Wierzbicki took off when the ball was hit and both would have scored easily except that Williams ran the ball down in full stride and made a lunging catch as he reached the warning track. Although his momentum carried him into the wall, Williams still managed to turn and fire a strike to shortstop Chris Diaz, doubling Moran off second base and completing the inning-ending double play.
“That was just a fantastic play,” Avent said. “That would have been two runs and a runner on second with one out. It could have been a very different game. That was the play of the game.”
That was the only time Chamra (5-0) was in trouble in his 5 1/3 innings of work. He allowed four hits and walked one, and allowed just two runners to reach scoring position, one of them being Moran.
“We’ve used several pitchers in our weekend rotation, and Rob Chamra has been a really important part of our bullpen,” Avent said. “But we’ve needed him to start the last two weekends, and he really responded with an outstanding performance today.”
One inning after Williams saved the day with his double play, the Wolfpack erupted for four runs in the fifth and six more in the sixth to take all the suspense out of the game and ensure NC State’s first sweep of North Carolina since 1997, Avent’s first season as head coach.
Williams — who else? — got the fourth inning started with a single to left. Pratt Maynard walked, knocking Munnelly (3-2) out of the game after four-plus innings. He allowed two runs on four hits.
“We left the bases loaded in the second and third innings, which was frustrating,” Avent said. “I really thought Munnelly was pitching well and was concerned that the longer he stayed out there, the more he was likely to get into a groove. I was really happy to see him out of there.”
Michael Morin came in to pitch for the Tar Heels and Andrew Ciencin laid down a sacrifice bunt up the third-base line. Third baseman Colin Moran stayed back to cover third, leaving Morin to field the bunt, which he did not field. Ciencin was safe on the infield single, loading the bases with none out.
Tarren Senay made it 2-0 with a one-out single through the right side of the infield and took second on the throw home. Cameron Conner doubled down the right-field line to drive in Senay and Ciencin and make it 4-0.
Chris Diaz led off the sixth with a single to right-center and went to third on Maynard’s one-out double into the left-field corner. Ciencin walked to load the bases, and Harold Riggins drove in Diaz with a single through the left side of the infield.
That prompted the Tar Heels to go to the bullpen for lefthander R.C. Orlan, his third appearance in the series. Chris Schaeffer hit for Senay and drove a double down the left-field line, scoring Maynard and Ciencin. Riggins went to third on the play, and scored when Frank’s throw back to the infield handcuffed second baseman Tommy Coyle for an error.
Cody Penny came in to pitch and John Gianis hit a two-out double to right, driving in Schaeffer. Gianis then stole third and scored on a wild pitch to give the Wolfpack a 10-0 lead.
North Carolina dinged Vance Williams for a pair of runs in the ninth on a double by Matt Roberts and a single by Brian Holberton.
NC State will return to action Tuesday against Campbell at Doak Field at Dail Park. Game time is 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on WKNC-FM (88.1) and will be available on-line with streaming video 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.