No. 7 NC State Outlasts East Carolina 4-3
April 18, 2006
RALEIGH, N.C. - Despite stranding eight men in scoring position on the night, NC State managed to battle back, tying the game in the bottom of the ninth on a passed ball and then scoring the game-winner in the bottom of the 10th on a wild pitch Tuesday night for a 4-3 win over in-state rival East Carolina at Doak Field at Dail Park.
The win lifts the Wolfpack to 31-10 overall, while the Pirates fall to 25-14. Closer Sam Walls (5-0) picked up the win for NC State after pitching two complete innings of hitless baseball. He walked none and struck out three. ECU reliever Kevin Rhodes (2-1) was tagged with his first loss of the season after allowing the game-winning run. He surrendered no hits in 2/3 of an inning, walked one and struck out one.
East Carolina took the early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Wolfpack starter Jason Duncan walked Adam Witter, and a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Wood moved him over to second. Jay Mattox drove a pitch deep to left-center for a stand-up double that scored Witter.
The Pirates added to the lead in the fifth when Harrison Eldridge led off with a single to right. Jamie Ray then connected on a single up the middle, advancing Eldridge to second. Dale Mollenhauer laid down a sacrifice bunt and was safe at first when Duncan threw the ball over the outstretched glove of first baseman Aaron Bates for an error. Ray advanced to third on the play and Eldridge scored. Duncan gave way to reliever Travis High one out later, and High surrendered a hard-hit single through the left side by Wood that scored Ray to make it 3-0 in favor of ECU.
The Wolfpack answered in the bottom of the fifth. Marcus Jones led things off with a single to right and then advanced to third on a Baltimore-chop single by Diaz that cleared first baseman Stephen Batts and rolled into right field. With runners at the corners, Matt Camp singled to left-center, moving Diaz to second and scoring Jones. A sacrifice bunt by Ramon Corona moved the runners to second and third, and Diaz came home on a groundout by Bates to make the score 3-2.
The East Carolina lead stood until the bottom of the ninth inning, although the Wolfpack had chances to score and could not break through. Ryan Pond led off the bottom of the sixth with a double to left and went to third on a groundout, but was stranded there when ECU starter Brody Taylor struck out Matt Mangini and Marcus Jones. Diaz led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to right and went to third on Camp's groundout. Reliever Jason Neitz hit Ramon Corona with a pitch, but wriggled off the hook by retiring Bates and Jon Still on fly balls to center field.
NC State finally managed to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth on a run that was essentially gift-wrapped. Corona connected on a one-out single up the middle, and T.J. Hose, who entered with two outs in the eighth, walked Bates to put runners at first and second. Corona advanced to third on a flyout by Still, then scored on a passed ball to Ryan Pond to knot the game at 3-3 and send the game into extra innings.
With one out in the bottom of the 10th, Mangini hit a routine fly ball to left field off of righthander Kevin Rhodes, who started the 10th inning for the Pirates. Left fielder Jamie Ray and shortstop Dale Mollenhauer failed to communicate on the play, and Ray pulled back at the last instant and the ball fell in untouched for a two-base error on the left fielder. Rhodes hit pinch hitter Bobby Hubbard with a pitch, then walked Diaz to load the bases. Camp reached on a fielder's choice to the pitcher that saw Mangini out at the plate, but the first offering from Rhodes to Corona sailed high and wild to the backstop, allowing pinch-runner Brian Aragon to score from third for the game-winning run.
NC State will now travel to face No. 1 North Carolina this weekend for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series. Game times are set for 7 p.m. on Friday, and 1 p.m. on Saturday and 1:3 p.m. on Sunday. All games will be broadcast live on WKNC-FM (88.1) and online at gopack.com.