June 5, 2011
Complete Postgame Press Conference Video
COLUMBIA, S.C. -
NC State got six stellar innings from its bullpen Sunday, but could not overcome five early walks and three errors as Stetson eliminated the Wolfpack from the NCAA Columbia Regional 5-3 at Carolina Stadium.
The loss ended the Wolfpack's season at 35-27. Stetson improved to 43-19 and will play South Carolina on Sunday at 7 p.m., with the regional championship on the line for the Gamecocks. Stetson must defeat South Carolina on Sunday night to force a true championship game on Monday evening.
"I'm really disappointed that we're not going to be playing South Carolina tonight," Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent said. "It took this team about 50 games to come together and find itself, but they've played so well the last few weeks. I'm really disappointed for them that they won't get to experience the atmosphere that they'll have in this ballpark tonight. I know they'd enjoy that."
Stetson scored the game's first run in the top of the second on a leadoff double by Spencer Theisen, a groundout by Trey Blackman, and Sean Emory's squeeze bunt. The Hatters made it 3-0 in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk to Trey Blackman and a run-scoring ground ball by Emory.
That was the end of the line for Wolfpack starter Rob Chamra (8-3), who struggled with his control. He allowed three runs on three hits in three-plus innings. He struck out one and walked five.
Brett Williams got NC State on the scoreboard with a two-run, two out homer to left, and Nick Rice and Rey Cotilla combined to give the Pack 2 2/3 innings of shutout relief to carry the game into the sixth inning.
"After Brett hit that home run and cut the lead to one, I told [assistant coach] Chris Hart that we were going to come back and win this game," Avent said. "And when we got great outings from Nick Rice and Rey Cotilla, I was convinced we were going to win. But give Stetson the credit. They beat us twice."
Reliever Tucker Donahue (3-3) came in to pitch for the Hatters after Williams' home run and shut the Pack down into the ninth inning. Donahue worked 3 2/3 innings and allowed just one unearned run on four hits.
Stetson extended its lead in the late innings thanks to some sloppy defensive work by the Wolfpack. The Hatters scored an unearned run in the seventh on a single by pinch-hitter Kyle Zech, a passed ball, a fly ball to right and a single by Ben Carhart. Blackman hit a two-out single in the top of the eighth and came around to score on back-to-back errors by Matt Bergquist at second base and Harold Riggins at first. Those runs proved to be the difference in the game.
"It's ironic that we committed three errors in our last nine games combined coming into this game, and we committed three today, two in one inning," Avent said. "We've been a terrific defensive club all year, but it hurt us today."
The Wolfpack did not go quietly in the bottom of the ninth inning. Dylan Brown, who entered the game in the seventh as a pinch-hitter, worked Donahue for a leadoff walk and John Gianis pinch-hit with one out and reached on a high chopper to third base. The runners advanced to second and third when Carhart's ill-advised throw to first was wide of the bag and went into the first-base dugout.
Jake Boyd came in to pitch for Stetson at that point and Williams reached on an error by shortstop Mark Jones. Canela scored on the play to make it 5-3, and with two away, Danny Canela, who earlier in the game hit two deep fly balls to center field, crushed a ball to center that looked at first like a game-winning homer but instead died on the warning track for the game's final out, giving Boyd his sixth save.
"I swear when I hit that ball I knew it was going out," Canela said. "I hit that ball about as hard as I can, and it just died in the outfield."
"When Danny hit that ball, we all thought it was gone," Avent said. "I think everyone in the ballpark thought it was gone. He crushed that ball, but aside from the ball Harold Riggins hit on Friday, the ball hasn't carried to center field here all weekend."
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