It was a huge night at Doak field on Saturday as the #6 ranked NC State Wolfpack handed the #1 ranked UNC Tar heels only their 4th loss of the season by a 7-3 count. The announced attendance of more than 3,100+ set a Doak Field record.
Carlos Rodonâ€™s 115th pitch of the night was his biggest as he strikes out heelsâ€™ pinch hitter Tom Zengel to end the carolina bases loaded threat and record his 10th K of the game.
With a dominant performance from ace lefthander Carlos Rodon and at least one hit from every player in the lineup, No. 6 North Carolina State set up a crucial rubber game on Sunday against No. 1 North Carolina. The Wolfpack won 7-3 on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd.
â€œWe didnâ€™t play bad last night, but we played really well tonight,â€ North Carolina State head coach Elliot Avent said.
Rodon was amped for the big game, sitting in the 90-94 mph range with his fastball and reaching back for 96 a couple times against North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran. Rodon scattered seven hits and gave up two earned runs (due to a Cody Stubbs home run given up by reliever Grant Sasser after Rodon left the game). Rodon walked four and struck out 10.
â€œCarlos Rodon was very, very special tonight,â€ Avent said. â€œHe didnâ€™t pitch as well as he did last weekend at Georgia Tech, but he pitched very, very well and he kept a great lineup at bay.â€
North Carolina matched N.C. State with 12 hits in the game, but just couldnâ€™t scratch out runs outside of the Stubbs home run. The key play of the game came in the top of the fourth inning. Down 1-0 with Moran on second and Stubbs on first with two outs, second baseman Mike Zolk hit a single to center field. NC State center fielder Brett Williams fielded the ball cleanly and fired a strike to the plate to nail Moran, who collided awkwardly with catcher Brett Austin instead of sliding (video here).
â€œWhen it happened, I was so proud of Brett Austin,â€ Avent said. â€œFirst of all, that guyâ€™s caught so much this year. He has caught so many gamesâ€”a lot of double headersâ€”and heâ€™s just been so good defensively all year long.
â€œIâ€™ve seen a lot of good plays at N.C. State, but I thought when that happened, I thought back to another play, and I said, â€˜I donâ€™t know if thatâ€™s the best play Iâ€™ve ever seen here at NC State, but it would tie the best play,â€™ and that one happened with a play at the plate, also. It was a big play for us, and if you want something bad enough, you can almost will yourself to do it, and thatâ€™s what happened. Iâ€™m very proud of him.â€
The Wolfpack went on to score three in the fourth and three in the fifth to break things open and seal the victory.
â€œThis series prepares you for that weekend when youâ€™re playing in a regional and playing for a chance to go to Omaha,â€ Avent said. â€œTo beat the number one team in the country two-out-of-three would be great and to beat Carolina two-out-of-three would be great.â€
Before State blew the game open with a 7-0 lead, the Tar heels were were threatening in the fourth inning when this happened:
The Wolfpack is currently tied with Florida State atop the ACC’s Atlantic Division with 15-8 ACC records.
Tonight’s rubber match will be televised on ESPNU at 7pm.