Wolfpack Baseball (36-21) has been on a tear of late, winning 15 of their last 18 games. But the comeback win on Saturday night at the Fort Worth Regional might be the most unlikely in that string. And maybe the sweetest. Almost certainly, it was the most important.
A nip and tuck affair all night, both starting pitchers found themselves with early leads. And both found themselves with those leads lost. The Wolfpack had the biggest lead of the night (2 runs at 3-1) but that lasted only a half inning, and it was a 1 run ball game the rest of the way.
With the Pack9 down to their last out and trailing by a run at 4-3, to regional host and #7 national seed TCU, it looked as if the Pack would be playing an early elimination game on Sunday just to stay alive for a chance to have to beat TCU two straight in order to advance.
But JR DH Chance Shepard didn’t like that path. He preferred a straight line approach…to dead centerfield. He took a 1-1 offering downtown for a 2 out 2 RBI blast to nearly straightaway center, scoring pinch runner Tommy DeJuneas ahead of himself and giving the Pack a sudden one run advantage at 5-4.
Travis Orwig, who worked 2.2 scoreless innings in relief, would take the victory for the Pack. But not before opening up the bottom of the 9th by yielding a leadoff double to the Horned Frogs to make things interesting. But a heady play from the JR lefty would essentially erase the leadoff double, as he cleanly fielded a sac bunt attempt and nailed the runner trying to advance to third. Two ground ball outs later, and State was safely still in the winner’s bracket, and with a much easier road to the super regionals.
Starter Brian Brown went 6.1 effective innings, but would take a no decision while giving up 4 runs on 5 hits, while k’ing 8 and walking none.
The Pack will now await the winner of tomorrow’s elimination game, rather than having to play in it.
TCU and Stony Brook will get things going in Fort Worth tomorrow in an elimination game beginning at 3:30pm eastern. And while the loser of that one goes home, the winner will have to make a quick turnaround and face the Pack at 8pm tomorrow night. If the Pack wins, they advance. If not, the same two teams will tee it up again in primetime on Monday night.
A very good night for Wolfpack Baseball indeed.
Now, go home and get some sleep.
Links and whatever other fun crap we find
Shepard’s HR carries NC State to win over TCU, 5-4 (WRALSportsFan.com)
NC State rallies for 5-4 win over TCU in NCAA baseball (NewsObserver.com)
Photo Gallery: NC State 5, TCU 4 | 05.30.15 (NewsObserver.com)
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) May 31, 2015
— NC State Baseball (@NCStateBaseball) May 31, 2015