Caitlin Dent's 3-Run, Walk-Off Homer Beats #24 UNC 11-8 in 8 Innings
April 13, 2013
#24 North Carolina 2, NC State 1
NC State 11, #24 North Carolina 8 (8 inn.)
1 p.m.: North Carolina at NC State+ | GameTracker | ACC Digital Network on YouTube
RALEIGH, N.C. - Senior outfielder Caitlin Dent capped a near-perfect Senior Day performance with a three-run, walk-off homer to beat No. 24 North Carolina 11-8 in the eighth inning on Saturday at the Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Softball Stadium.
The home run, the Wolfpack's third and Dent's second of the game, earned a split with the Tar Heels, who won the opener 2-1 in a pitcher's duel between Wolfpack sophomore Emily Weiman and UNC junior Lori Spingola.
Dent, who had seven career homers coming into the 2013 season, now has 10 home runs this season. She's also had three two-homer games this week, after hitting two in each game of a doubleheader against Campbell on Wednesday.
But there was something more special about Saturday's performance, which included a solo homer in the bottom of the first. This time - as the Pack celebrated Senior Day for Dent, outfielder Bethaney Wells and infielder Katie Mansilla - Dent's parents, former major league player and manager Bucky Dent and his wife Marianne, were in the stands to see it.
"I've been waiting to do something like that against North Carolina for four years," Dent said. "Oh, my gosh. It was so awesome.
"In the first game, I struggled and I knew I needed to make some adjustments. And then in the second game I saw some good pitches that I was able to drive."
Freshman designated player Hanna Sommer twice erased early North Carolina leads, with a two-run double in the first inning and a two-run home run in the third. It was the seventh homer of the season for the freshman from Tustin, Calif.
After the Tar Heels scored three runs on five first-inning hits, Dent started the first of four Wolfpack comebacks in the game, with a solo homer to centerfield.
UNC pitcher Lori Spingola hit both Chelsea Tate and Bethaney Wells to put runners on first and second. Sommer followed with a line-drive double over the UNC centerfielder's head, bringing home Tate. Wells eventually scored on a wild pitch, tying the score, 3-3.
The Tar Heels took the lead again in the third on a two-run homer by Jenna Kelly.
Sommer answered with her seventh homer of the season, giving the Pack its 15th multiple home run game of the season. State has had at least one homer in 16 of its last 19 contests, en route to an ACC-leading 56 homers on the season.
The Pack took an 8-6 lead in the bottom of the sixth, after sophomore rightfielder Sara Lippard banged a double off the left-center wall, just missing a solo homer. Leah Jones followed with a single and freshman Lana Van Dyken gave the Pack the lead with a sacrifice fly.
Dent, a three-year starter, came to the plate with runners on second and third and drove in another run with a grounder to shortstop.
But the Tar Heels tied the game with a two-run homer by Haleigh Dickey in the top of the seventh. When the Pack failed to score in the bottom of the inning, the game went to extra frames.
State's final rally started with a two-out double by junior catcher Kirsty Grant, her third hit of the game and her fourth of the day. Davis followed with a walk.
Dent then came to the plate and hit her second homer of the day, capping off a 2-for-5 performance at the plate with five RBIs.
"We just kept coming back," Rychcik said. "That was the best thing about this game. We started that last inning on a two-out hit by Kirsty. The bottom of our lineup gave us a chance all day."
Weiman, who took the 2-1 loss in the first game after giving up an unearned run in the top of the seventh inning, picked up her 20th win of the season. Weiman (20-16) gave up a season-high eight earned runs in the second game, after giving up only one in the first, but she also had six strikeouts and no walks in the second game.
"Em battled out there and that's all we could ask for on a day when she pitched 15 innings," Rychcik said. "They kind of broke our hearts in the seventh inning when they tied the game, but we got the big hits we needed in the eighth."
The two teams meet in the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m., a game that will be broadcast on the ACC Digital Network on YouTube. Watch the game live at the link at the top of the page.
Follow State softball all season on Twitter (@PackSoftball), by liking the NC State Softball Facebook page and at www.GoPack.com/softball.