No. 18 Baseball Throttles No. 3 FSU, 12-2
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- In what was probably the biggest game of the year to date, NC State didn’t come up big; the 18th-ranked Wolfpack came up huge. Matt Payne led a 14-hit attack with three hits and three RBIs, and Eric Surkamp and two relievers combined on a three-hitter to lead the Pack past third-ranked Florida State 12-2 at Dick Howser Stadium.
NC State, which scored in double figures for the fourth game in a row, limited Florida State to a season-low three hits and handed the Seminoles their most lopsided defeat of the season. The victory lifted the Wolfpack to 37-16 overall, and at 18-9 and in fourth place overall in the ACC, NC State sets a school record for conference victories. Combined with Miami’s 12-2 victory over North Carolina, the Wolfpack now is within two games of the third-place Tar Heels with two to play.
Furthermore, the game was a big boost to NC State’s bid to host an NCAA regional. The Wolfpack came into the game ranked 11th in the latest unofficial RPI ratings by WarrenNolan.com, while the Seminoles, who came into the game having won nine of their last 10 games, were third. NC State is now 3-3 against the top three teams in the RPI ratings: 1-2 vs. No. 1 Miami, 1-1 vs. No. 2 North Carolina and 1-0 vs. No. 3 Florida State.
FSU fell to 44-9 overall and 22-6 in the ACC with the loss. The Seminoles have wrapped up first place in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, but this loss eliminated the Noles from the race for the top spot in the overall ACC standings.
Surkamp (5-2) and FSU starter Matt Fairel (9-2) both had shaky first innings. The Wolfpack got to Fairel for a run in the top of the first inning on a walk to Devon Cartwright, a wild pitch, an infield single by Matt Payne and an RBI single up the middle by Marcus Jones.
Tyler Holt led off the bottom of the first for Florida State and doubled to right field. He took third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Buster Posey. And with that, the Seminoles offense pretty much took the rest of the night off. Surkamp, who allowed two runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings, retired 15 of the next 17 Florida State hitters before tiring and handing the ball off to the bullpen. Relievers Sam Brown and Jimmy Gillheeney worked the final 3 1/3 innings without allowing a hit.
The Wolfpack took the lead for good at 3-1 with two runs in the top of the second on a two-out, two-run single to right field by Matt Payne. Fariel settled in from there, and he and Surkamp traded zeroes on the scoreboard until the Noles cut the lead to 3-2 on Jack Rye’s single to center field in the bottom of the sixth.
The momentum did not last. Fairel ran out of steam in the top of the seventh and the Seminoles bullpen was unable to stop the damage as NC State added four runs in the top of the seventh and five more in the top of the ninth.
Tommy Foschi led off the seventh with a double down the right-field line and came around to score on Pond’s one-out double into the left-field corner. Payne singled off of Fairel’s leg and through the right side of the infield to score Pond and chase Fairel from the game. Jimmy Marshall got out of the inning, but not before surrendering an infield single to Marcus Jones and a two-run pinch-hit single to Dallas Poulk.
Jones led off the ninth with a towering triple to the deepest part of the ballpark in straightaway center field off reliever Ryan Vigue, who followed that with walks to Jeremy Synan, Poulk and Pat Ferguson to force in a run. Tyler Everett came in to pitch for Vigue, and after retiring Chris Schaeffer on an infield pop-up, he walked Foschi to force in another run, then gave up a two-run single to right by Nick Stanley and an RBI groundout by Drew Martin.
NC State and Florida State will play game two of their three-game series on Friday at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on WKNC-FM (88.1) and on-line at gopack.com through the Pack Pass package.