Baseball To Play Sunday For ACC Championship
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Pratt Maynard singled home the winning run in the top of the 10th inning and Jake Buchanan worked six sterling innings in relief as NC State came from behind to defeat Virginia Tech 10-9 in Game 9 of the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship.
The victory sends the Wolfpack (38-21) into Sunday’s championship game against Florida State (41-17) at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro. Game time is 1 p.m. NC State will send Game 3 starter Alex Sogard to the mound to face the Seminoles. Florida State is expected to start either Hunter Scantling or Geoff Parker.
The Wolfpack, which led 7-1 through 3 1/2 innings before a seven-run fourth gave the Hokies the lead at 8-7, had to rally for a run in the ninth inning to send the game to extra innings. Buchanan (8-6), working on one day’s rest after starting and pitching an inning Friday night against Georgia Tech, allowed just one unearned run on six hits. He struck out five and walked two.
Virginia Tech took the early lead with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Sean Ryan led off and doubled into the right-field corner. Michael Seaborn laid down a sacrifice bunt that Wolfpack starter Cory Mazzoni played into an infield single. Steve Domecus grounded into a double play to score the run and give the Hokies a 1-0 lead.
Harold Riggins hit a two-out single through the right side of the infield in the top of the second, and advanced to third base on a pair of wild pitches from VPI starter Jesse Hahn. Chris Schaeffer singled to right to drive in Riggins and tie the score at 1-1.
NC State jumped to a 5-1 lead with four runs in the top of the third. Matt Bergquist led off and reached on an error. Kyle Wilson singled to right to put runners on the corners with none out. Hahn hit Dallas Poulk with a pitch to load the bases. Drew Poulk hit a sacrifice fly to score Bergquist, and Andrew Ciencin hit a two-run single to center to make it 4-1. Maynard’s sacrifice fly to center drove in Ciencin.
John Gianis led off the top of the fourth with an opposite-field solo home run to left field. Kyle Wilson reached and went all the way to third base on a three-base error by Tech first baseman Ronnie Shaban. Dallas Poulk singled up the middle to score Wilson and give Mazzoni and the Wolfpack a 7-1 lead.
Big leads have proven to be unsafe at any size in this tournament, and Virginia Tech erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead. Andrew Rash hit a three-run homer, Ryan legged out an RBI-triple and scored on Michael Seaborn’s single to left, and Domecus belted a two-run home run.
That was all for Mazzoni. Buchanan came in to pitch for the Wolfpack and got the final out of the inning. Riggins then got Mazzoni off the hook with a home run over the scoreboard in right field, perhaps the longest home run of the nearly 50 bombs hit through the first three days of the tournament.
Buchanan made the 7-7 tie stand up until the bottom of the seventh. Shaban led off with a double down the left-field line and went to third on a throwing error by NC State shortstop Matt Bergquist. Rash’s single to shallow center field drove in Shaban with the go-ahead run, which was unearned.
Down to its final three outs and facing Virginia Tech closer Ben Rowen, NC State rallied to tie the game in the top of the ninth. Drew Poulk led off with an infield single, extending his hitting streak to 18 games, which is tied for the fifth longest in school history. Ciencin laid down a sacrifice bunt, and when Shaban went to tag Ciencin, he ran through the tag and knocked the ball out of Shaban’s glove for a two-base error, putting runners on second and third. The Hokies intentionally walked Riggins to load the bases with one away, but Rowen hit pinch-hitter Danny Canela with a pitch to force in the tying run.
Kyle Wilson led off the winning rally in the top of the 10th and walked. Dallas Poulk bunted Wilson to second, and Rowen hit Drew Poulk with a pitch. After Ciencin struck out for the second out of the inning, Maynard flared a single to center field to score Wilson with the eventual winning run.
The Hokies made one last gasp before falling. Buchanan hit Seaborn and Austin Wates with pitches to put the potential tying run on second and the potential winning run on first for Shaban, but Grant Sasser closed it out by retiring Shaban on a fly to right for his fifth save.
NC State and Florida State will play in the ACC championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday. The game will be broadcast live on WKNC-FM (88.1) and on-line at gopack.com. Raycom is televising all games in the ACC Tournament. Check local listings to see if your cable or satellite provider is carrying the game.