NC State Downs North Carolina In ACC Opener, 9-3
May 24, 2006
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Gib Hobson picked the perfect time to throw NC State's first complete game of the season, and Drew Martin had three hits in his first collegiate start Wednesday as the Wolfpack defeated fourth-ranked North Carolina 9-3 in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Tournament.
NC State improved to 36-19 with the win and will face Virginia at 5 p.m. on Thursday. The Cavaliers were a 6-2 winner over Florida State in the day's first game. North Carolina fell to 45-12 with the loss and will play Florida State in a 10 a.m. elimination game on Thursday.
Hobson (9-1) allowed 10 hits, walked one and struck out three. He threw 118 pitches and won his fifth consecutive decision. UNC All-American Andrew Miller (11-2) got the loss. Miller was charged with a season-high seven runs, five of them earned, on six hits in six innings. He walked five and struck out four.
Martin led the Wolfpack offense with three singles, including a key bunt hit in the third inning. Caleb Mangum went 2-for-5 and drove in a run, and Ramon Corona went 2-for-4, scored twice and drove in a run. Brian Aragon had a two-run double in five at-bats.
The Tar Heels used a variation of the "two bloops and a blast" theory to take a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Mike Cavasinni led off with an infield single, and Reid Fronk dribbled a grounder through the vacated left side of the infield on a hit-and-run play to put runners on first and third. Chad Flack followed with an opposite-field three-run homer to right.
The Wolfpack came back to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the third. Mangum led off and singled to center field. Jonathan Diaz walked, and Martin, playing for the injured Matt Mangini, laid down a perfect bunt to the left of the mound. Miller fielded the ball and looked to third, but by the time he realized he had no play there, he had no play anywhere. Martin was safe with the bunt single to load the bases with none out. Miller hit Matt Camp with a pitch to drive in one run, and Corona and Aaron Bates drove in runs with groundouts. Jon Still's single to center field drove in Camp with the go-ahead run.
That was all Hobson needed. The Tar Heels got runners on second and third with two down in the second, but Hobson retireed Fronk on a popup. UNC had runners on second and third with one away in the bottom of the third, but Jay Cox popped out, and Benji Johnson grounded out to end the threat. And that was the last threat the Tar Heels had. Hobson set down 20 of the last 25 men he faced, including 10 in a row at one point, and 16 of 18.
The Wolfpack added insurance runs in the top of the fifth, loading the bases on a single to left-center by Corona and walks to Bates and Still. Ryan Pond drove in a run on a grounder to shortstop that Josh Horton booted for an error, leaving the bases loaded. Aragon grounded into a double play to score an unearned run and make it 6-3, and Mangum's bad-hop single up the middle went over Horton's glove to drive in Still and give the Wolfpack a 7-3 lead.
Corona led off the top of the ninth and beat out a bunt for a single. Chris Engle drew a two-out walk, and Aragon followed with an opposite-field double down the right-field line, clearing the bases and giving Hobson and the Pack a 9-3 lead.
WKNC-FM (88.1) will broadcast all of NC State's tournament games live, and all broadcasts will be available online at gopack.com through Yahoo's subscription service.