State won its weekend series at Doak Field at Dail Park versus #1-ranked Virginia 2-1 to improve to 18-10 overall (5-7 ACC).
I was at the game Friday and it was a beautiful evening and a great crowd, and obviously the last few innings were exciting. It was my first game of the season and I commented several times how hard State hits the ball (although through seven innings we had a dreadful average on balls in play). Dr. BadgerPack confirmed State’s power this season on the forums:
As I thought, this team — barring an unprecedented offensive collapse — will out-slug the 2009 version by a country mile. A whole 48 homers last year…41 so far this season [we added four in this series].
State used power (four homeruns, including two two-run shots and a grand slam) this weekend to overcome pitching that allows a lot of base runners (41 hits, 10 walks, two hit-by-pitch, three errors); the bullpen did well enough in both of the wins to allow those big hits to make the difference. And while the defense isn’t remarkable (three errors this weekend), they make plays to keep opponents from putting runs on the board (picked off two Virginia runners, threw out another attempting to steal, and threw out a runner trying to stretch a single into a double).
Game 1 – Friday: State 7, Virginia 6 (11 innings)
Game 1 Box Score
Stateâ€™s bats were largely silent against Virginiaâ€™s Danny Hultzen, with only one run on one hit through seven. But the Pack bats came alive against the Cavaliers bullpen when it mattered (from GoPack.com):
With Hultzen out of the game, the Virginia pitching turned from terrific to merely good, and NC State responded by tying the game in the bottom of the eighth. John Gianis led off, pinch-hitting for Diaz, and doubled off the wall in left-center. Kyle Wilson followed with an opposite-field homer to left-center, his third home run of the week, to tie the game at 3-3.
Virginia came right back in the top of the ninth. Tyler Cannon led off the inning against reliever Rob Chamra and hit a double to right-center. John Hicks laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Chamra, after thinking about going to third, threw wildly to first base, allowing Cannon to score the go-ahead run. Hicks advanced to third on a groundout, then scored on Brunoâ€™s Baltimore-chop single over third base.
Virginia relief ace Kevin Arico, with nine saves in as many opportunities to his credit, entered the game in the bottom of the ninth with save No. 10 on the line. Didnâ€™t happen, and it got away from him quickly. Canela led off and doubled down the left-field line, and Dallas Poulk followed with a two-run homer to right, tying the game at 5-5. Arico recovered and struck out the next three batters to send the game to extra innings, then retired the side 1-2-3 in the 10th.
Schaeffer led off the bottom of the 11th and flied to center field. That was all for Arico. Lefthander Neal Davis came in, faced three batters and was tagged for his first loss of the season. Canela greeted him with a sharp single up the middle. Lefthanded pitcher Mike Clark came in as a pinch-runner and went to third on Terran Senayâ€™s two-out double to right. That put runners on second and third, and Virginia brought in Justin Thompson to face Matt Bergquist, who singled to right to end the game.
Game 2 – Saturday: Virginia 8, State 4
Game 2 Box Score
Virginia evened the series with 15 hits in an 8-4 win Saturday (from TheACC.com).
The top four in the Cavaliers’ batting order combined for 10 hits Saturday, with Dan Grovatt (Jr., Tabernacle, N.J.) and Steven Proscia (So., Suffern, N.Y.) each notching three hits. Proscia went 3-for-3 and reached base in all five of his plate appearances. Phil Gosselin (Jr., West Chester, Pa.) and Keith Werman (So., Vienna, Va.) each had two hits, and Gosselin scored three times out of the leadoff spot. Stephen Bruno (Fr., Audubon, N.J.) added a pair of hits out of the nine-hole for UVa.
Robert Morey (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) started for Virginia and worked 6.2 innings, allowing four earned runs, eight hits and three walks while striking out five. He earned the win to improve to 4-1 this season. Branden Kline (Fr., Frederick, Md.) worked out of a seventh-inning jam and then pitched the final two innings to record his second save.
Game 3 – Sunday: State 7, Virginia 6
Game 3 Box Score
Andrew Ciencin hit a seventh-inning grand slam and then State held off a two-run threat and stranded the tying run for Virginia in the ninth to take the rubber game of the series 7-6. Anthony Tzamtzis relieved Grant Sasser in the seventh and picked up the win, allowing only two runs (one earned) on three hits in 2.1 innings of work.
Next up for the Wolfpack is a two-game series in Raleigh versus Coppin State (Tuesday and Wednesday) and then a three-game weekend series in Chapel Hill against #22 Carolina (19-10, 3-8 after Saturday).