June 4, 2011
Postgame Quotes (PDF)
Entire Postgame Press Conference Video
COLUMBIA, S.C. -
Cory Mazzoni scattered four hits over eight innings in blistering heat Saturday to lift NC State past Georgia Southern in an elimination game in the NCAA Columbia Regional.
With the victory, NC State improved to 35-26 overall and survived to face the loser of Saturday's 7 p.m. game between South Carolina and Stetson. The Wolfpack will play at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Georgia Southern was eliminated from the season and ended its season at 36-26.
"A lot of people told me when we came down here that this was the toughest regional in the country," Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent said. "I think all regionals are tough, so I hate to use that word. I certainly see what people are talking about. [Georgia Southern] might be a four seed, but that's one of the toughest teams we've played all year. That's a tough, well-coached team with tough, hard-nosed players.
"I'm just so proud of our players, who were up against elimination. To go up against a team like that, being visitors again and not having that last at-bat, and they were able to grind it out. I'm just proud of where they've come from."
With temperatures in the mid-to-upper-90s, Mazzoni (6-6) worked eight innings and allowed two runs on four hits. He struck out 12 and walked one. He pitched at least six innings for the 15th time in 16 starts, at least seven innings for the 12th time, and pitched into the eighth inning for the seventh time.
Mazzoni reached double figures in strikeouts for the seventh time this season, breaking the school record he shared with Terry Harvey (1995). Mazzoni has had as many strikeouts as innings pitched or more in 12 of 16 starts this season, including each of his last six.
In his last three starts -- against Boston College in the regular season, Florida State in the ACC Championship, and Georgia Southern in the NCAA Columbia Regional -- Mazzoni has allowed two runs on 11 hits in 23 innings, with 32 strikeouts and two walks. He has allowed just three earned runs in his last 29 innings pitched.
Mazzoni now has 137 strikeouts in 114 2/3 innings this season, an average of 10.75 punchouts per nine innings. He ranks third in school history for K's in a single season behind Matt Donahue, who fanned 147 in 1992 and 138 in 1991. For his career Mazzoni has 257 strikeouts, which ranks seventh in school history.
"If we'd won yesterday, I thought Cory could give us eight innings in the night game today," Avent said. "I didn't think that was possible today. It was hotter than yesterday. I'm not shocked because he continues to amaze me."
Georgia Southern took a 1-0 lead off Mazzoni in the bottom of the first inning on Victor Roache's one-out double off the wall in left field. That run snapped Mazzoni's streak of 16 consecutive scoreless innings. The Pack tied it at 1-1 on Danny Canela's solo homer to right in the top of the fourth, Canela's second homer, his fourth hit and his fifth RBI of the regional.
The Wolfpack took the lead in the top of the sixth. Brett Williams led off, walked and stole second. Georgia Southern coach Rodney Hennon yanked starter Chris Beck (9-5) at that point in favor of closer Matt Murray, who immediately gave up a single up the middle to Pratt Maynard, driving in Williams with the go-ahead run. Beck was charged with two runs on two hits in five-plus innings. He struck out three and walked one.
Harold Riggins kept the fifth inning alive when he hit a one-out single to right to put runners on first and second. Tarran Senay's single to right should have loaded the bases with one down, only Riggins went too far past second base and got caught in a run-down. While the Eagles chased and tagged out Riggins, Maynard broke for home and scored to give NC State a 3-1 lead.
Mazzoni, meanwhile, shut down the Eagles following their first-inning run. After Roache's RBI-double, Mazzoni retired eight in a row and 13 of 14 before Georgia Southern scored again in the sixth. Eric Phillips led off with a single, stole second, went to third on a fly to right and scored when Mazzoni bounced a pitch about five feet in front of Maynard for a wild pitch.
That cut the lead to 3-2, but Mazzoni made the 3-2 lead stand up through eight innings, retiring nine of the last 10 men he faced. The final out was Roache, who leads the NCAA with 30 home runs this season, eight more than the nearest competitor. Avent went to the mound before Roache's at-bat.
"He wanted to know if I had one more in me," Mazzoni said. "I told him I did. I just wanted to keep the ball down against him. He hit my fastball hard twice, but he struggled against my slider. Luckily, he popped it up."
NC State added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth on an RBI double by Cameron Conner and a run-scoring single by Matt Bergquist. Chris Overman worked a scoreless ninth inning, allowing one hit, to record his seventh save of the season.
Sunday's game will be broadcast live on WKNC-FM (88.1) at 1 p.m. and will be available for free on-line 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.