Baseball Drops Final Game of Series, 6-4 in 11
RALEIGH, N.C. – Virginia Tech scored two unearned runs in the top of the 11th inning Sunday to defeat NC State 6-4 in the final game of a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference baseball series at Doak Field at Dail Park.
With the win, the Hokies salvaged the final game of the series and improved to 13-8 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. The Wolfpack, which saw its five-game winning streak snapped, fell to 16-7 overall and 3-3 in the conference.
Virginia Tech closer Rhett Ballard (4-1) got the win after blowing a save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth. Ballard worked four innings and allowed three runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out seven. NC State closer Eryk McConnell (1-1) got tagged with the tough-luck loss despite not allowing an earned run. McConnell pitched four innings and allowed just the two unearned runs in the top of the 11th. He gave up three hits and struck out three without issuing a walk.
Tech starter Adam Redd was a two-way star for the Hokies. On the mound, he allowed just two hits in six shutout innings, walking two and striking out five. He collected more hits at the plate than he allowed NC State in his six innings on the mound. Redd went 3-for-5 and drove in a run. Jose Cueto also went 3-for-5 with an RBI. Nate Parks and Matt Hacker had two hits apiece for Virginia Tech. Dallas Poulk was the leading hitter for NC State with three in five trips to the plate. Pat Ferguson went 2-for-4 and Joe Florio went 2-for-5.
The Hokies took the lead with a run in the top of the first inning. Bryan Thomas reached on a force play, and with two outs Redd singled through the right side of the infield. Cueto drove in Thomas with the run with a bloop single into shallow center field.
Tech made it 2-0 in the top of the fifth. Hacker led off with a single through the right side of the infield and Steve Bumbry walked. The Wolfpack’s Jimmy Gillheeney came in for starter Jeff Stallings and struck out Matt Foley for the first out. Parks got the run home with an RBI single up the middle.
While his offense provided him with a 2-0 lead, Redd kept the Wolfpack thoroughly off-balance for six innings, retiring 13 of the first 14 men he faced and 18 of 22 altogether before being lifted for Scott Stoehr to start the bottom of the seventh. Redd retired the side in order in the first, third and fourth innings, and did not allow a runner to reach scoring position until there was one out in the fifth.
The Wolfpack finally got on the scoreboard with a run off of Stoehr in the seventh. Ferguson hit a one-out single through the left side of the infield, went to second on Caleb Mangum’s groundout, then scored when Poulk grounded a single through the right side.
Tech appeared to put the game away with two gift-wrapped runs in the top of the eighth. Parks led off and hustled out a double when the Wolfpack outfield was slow to pick the ball up and get it back to the infield. Sean O’Brien followed with a fly ball to left field that Synan dropped for an error, putting runners on second and third with none out. McConnell came in to pitch for NC State, and got Bryan Thomas on a fly ball to center field that scored Parks. O’Brien moved to third on the throw to the plate and Redd followed and chopped a single over the drawn-in infield, scoring O’Brien and making it 4-1 in favor of the Hokies.
NC State came back to tie the game in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth. Ferguson led off and singled up the middle. Mangum followed with a single to center and Poulk lofted a ball the opposite way and into the left-field corner. The runners had to hold up to make sure the ball was not caught, so the result was a single to load the bases with none out. Drew Martin lined out to second base, but Matt Payne drove a two-run single up the middle to cut the lead to one. Florio blooped one into shallow left to drive in Poulk with the tying run and send the game to extra innings.
The Hokies broke the tie in the top of the 11th. Cueto and Warren Schaeffer reached on a one-out singles to left field. Hacker grounded to Martin at third base, but Martin threw wildly to second base for an error, allowing Cueto to score and Schaeffer to advance all the way to third. Sean Ryan followed with another bounced to Martin, and this time he overthrew the catcher in an attempt to cut down Schaeffer at the plate.
NC State will return to action next weekend in a three-game ACC series at Wake Forest. Game times will be 2:30 p.m. on Friday, and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. All three games will be broadcast on WKNC (88.1 FM) and will be available live on-line on gopack.com through Pack Pass.