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    Pack Falls in Walk-Off Heartbreaker
     
    Ryan Mathews
    Ryan Mathews
     

    June 3, 2012

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    RALEIGH, N.C. - NC State took an 8-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth, but saw it evaporate over the final two innings, dropping a 9-8 heartbreaker in walk-off fashion to Vanderbilt in the winners’ bracket of the Raleigh Regional, Saturday at Doak Field at Dail Park.

    The Wolfpack (40-18) was designated the visiting team on a coin flip on Friday night. Vanderbilt (35-26) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second before falling behind 6-1 heading into the bottom seventh after three-straight run-producing innings from the Pack. The Commodores made it 6-3 in the bottom seventh, then lost those two runs on Ryan Mathews’s two-run homer in the top eighth. Trailing 8-3, Vanderbilt tied the game at 8-8 with a five-run eighth, before walking off with the win on a run in the ninth.

    Mathews scored twice and drove in two with a monstrous 3-for-5, one home run, one double performance. The redshirt senior sits 6-for-10 with two homers, six RBIs, and five runs through two games at the Raleigh Regional. Starter Carlos Rodon (9-0) ended up with a no decision after three earned over 6 2/3 innings with six strikeouts. Rodon’s 132 strikeouts for the season represents the fourth-most in program history.

    Jake Fincher went 3-for-5 with an RBI triple and a run scored. Fincher’s triple marked his sixth of the season, which breaks the NC State freshman record previously held by Louie Meadows (1980) and Tom Sergio (1994).

    Brett Austin plated two runs and scored once in a 2-for-4 outing with a double. Andrew Ciencin doubled as well for an RBI in his 2-for-4 game. Danny Canela went 0-for-1 at the plate, but drew four walks and scored twice. Logan Ratledge hit the Pack’s other double in a 2-for-4 evening with one run.

    Commodore starter Sam Selman pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing four earned on six hits for a no decision. Reliever Jared Miller (3-0) claimed the win on 1 1/3 scoreless innings to finish the game.

    Vanderbilt took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, moments after Selman worked his way out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the top half. Jack Lupo hit a one-out double to the wall in right center and advanced to third on a passed ball. Andrew Harris legged out a bunt single to squeeze Lupo home. Rodon escaped with the bases loaded two batters latter by inducing a pop up to short.

    The Wolfpack tied the game 1-1 in the fifth. Ratledge led off the inning with a single to left. Matt Bergquist walked behind him to push the tying run to second. Trea Turner bunted the pair over, and Chris Diaz grounded to short to plate Ratledge.

    State grabbed a 4-1 lead with three runs in the sixth. Canela led off his second inning of the game with a walk, then moved to second on Ciencin’s sac bunt. Austin lifted a fly to shallow right center, which dropped in for a double to score Canela. Fincher followed with his sixth triple of the year, a bullet to the wall in left center to drive in Austin. One pitch later, a balk brought in Fincher to grant the Pack a three-run lead.

    The Pack added a pair in the seventh to make it 6-1. Mathews got the inning going with a one-out double down the left field line. After a free pass to Canela and a wild pitch, State had runners on the corners with one out. A dropped foul ball by the catcher gave Ciencin another chance, and he took advantage by driving an RBI single to left. Austin followed with an RBI single to right to push the lead to five. Vanderbilt limited the damage by tagging out Ciencin at the plate one batter later on an attempted squeeze.

    Vandy narrowed the margin to 6-3 in the bottom seventh. Tony Kemp took a pitch in the elbow to lead off, then stole second. Mike Yastrzemski doubled down the right field line to score him one batter later. A pair of groundouts to the right side brought Yastrzemski home. Rodon left the game after walking Spencer Navin in the next at-bat, but reliever Ryan Wilkins struck out the first batter he faced to put a cork in the inning.

    State recouped those two runs in the eighth on a two-run homer from Mathews. Turner set the table with a one-out single through the right side, then Mathews stepped on a 2-2 pitch, depositing it over the left field fence for his 16th of the year and second of the regional.

    The Commodores roared back with five runs in the eighth to knot the score 8-8. Pinch hitter Connor Castellano got the inning starting by being hit by a pitch with one out. Another pinch hitter, Riley Reynolds doubled to right center to score him. A fly ball represented the second out, then the flood gates opened. A wild pitch on a third strike helped Yastrzemski keep the inning alive. Anthony Gomez hit an RBI single up the middle. Conrad Gregor hit a ground-rule double into the Wolfpack bullpen to score another. With two in scoring position, a wild pitch scored Gomez, and an error on the flip to home let Gregor across to tie the game.

    In the decisive ninth, Castellano reached with a one-out single, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Reynolds grounded out to the right side to push him closer with two away. Kemp hit the walk-off, RBI single to center on an 0-1 pitch.

    NC State faces a do-or-die situation beginning tomorrow with a 1 p.m. elimination game against UNC Wilmington. If the Pack prevails, it will return to the field at 6 p.m. for a rematch with Vanderbilt. Streaming coverage for the entire Raleigh regional will be linked from GoPack.com. Radio coverage will be provided for the Wolfpack’s games by 88.1 WKNC, fans can follow Twitter updates from @NCStateBaseball, and live stats will be available on GoPack.com.


     

     

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