Carlos Rodon, recently named ACC Freshman of the Year and ACC Pitcher of the Year, showed a capacity crowd in Greensboro precisely why he was deserving of those accolades. On Saturday night Rodon had what was arguably his best outing of the year, going 9.0 complete shutout innings, giving up only four hits and striking out twelve. Both his control and velocity made him all but unhittable on a night when that’s what the Pack needed.
For the second straight game, Trea Turner led off the game with some spark, this time with a bunt single and his 55th stolen base of the year. Unfortunately, Turner’s 1st inning display would be the Pack’s offensive highlight of the night, also for the second straight game. The Pack would muster only four more base hits for the next twelve innings, and only Jake Fincher would manage to get to Carolina pitching more than once (2 for 4).
GREENSBORO, N.C. – NC State came up one win shy of playing for the ACC Championship after dropping a 4-0, 12-inning battle with second seeded North Carolina, Saturday at NewBridge Bank Park.
Freshman Carlos Rodon dazzled a crowd of 10,229, the largest ever to witness a college baseball game in the state of North Carolina, with nine shutout innings and 12 strikeouts to tie his career high, but left with the no decision at the end of regulation.
With its championship hopes on the line, the Wolfpack (39-17) clawed its way through 11 scoreless innings before the Tar Heels (44-14) managed to push four across in the top of 12th.
It would be easy to start tossing salvos at the Wolfpack hitters. And granted, a single run isn’t much to ask for as far as run support when your ace is throwing his heart out. But give Carolina’s pitching staff credit. If you can throw four pitchers over the course of twelve shutout innings, give up only five hits, strike out twelve and walk only three….AND your closer can go 5 full shutout innings to get the win?
I hate Carolina as much as anyone, but on this night you have to tip your hat to them. On a night when their skipper was at his hotel room (doing who knows what) and they had no championship to play for, the effort their staff displayed was every bit as impressive as what Rodon showed.
So, the Wolfpack returns home for a likely NCAA Regional hosting gig starting next Friday. The Pack’s loss to the Heels does not damage their hosting chances, with their RPI holding steady at #11. The Heels solidified their claim on a national seed with the win over the Pack, moving up to #4 in the RPI. Despite dropping three straight in Greensboro, FSU at #3 is still solid for a national seed as well
The ACC now has four teams in the top 10 of the RPI. Joining Florida State and Carolina, Virginia checks in at #8 and Miami at #10. A Miami win today could move them up a slot and possibly pull the #11 Wolfpack into the top 10 with them.
So, for those that still care, Pool A winner Georgia Tech will face Pool B winner Miami today at noon. I have a feeling that ticket sales and ESPN2 ratings just went in the dumper.
Potential good news for GT: All of the three previous teams to go 3-0 in pool play (Miami ’08, UVa ’09 and ’11) have not only gone on to take the conference championship, but also to reach the CWS in Omaha.