ICYMI Day 3:
- Freshman Brian Brown (Glenmore, Pa.) struck out a career-high 10 batters in NC State’s 3-0 win over third seeded Notre Dame.
- Clemson upset No. 5 Louisville 7-2. Clemson starter Zack Erwin (Duluth, Ga.) pitched eight innings and ties season-high with 11 strikeouts.
- Florida State bangs out 12 hits despite striking out a program record 17 times in 8-4 win over UNC. Tar Heels’ Trent Thornton (Charlotte, N.C.) struck out 10 in first start since March 15.
NC State walks-off on Little League home run by Palmeiro in 12th
DURHAM, N.C. — In front of a raucous crowd of 6,800 — mostly State fans at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, sophomore Preston Palmeiro (Colleyville, Texas) hit a walk-off “Little League Home Run” to lead off the bottom of the 12th inning to give NC State and their fans a thrilling 5-4 come from behind victory over No. 9 Miami. The win clinched a spot for NC State in Sunday’s ACC Championship game at 1:00 pm.
“When I hit it I knew I had a double and I was just trying to hustle,” Palmeiro said. “When he threw it in I knew it was offline and I knew they didn’t have a shot to catch it so I kept going and when I got to third, Coach Hart kept waving me so I just put my head down and kept going.”
The game-winning hit almost ended in disaster however as the throw to the plate had beat Palmeiro by about a good 20 feet. Fortunately for the Wolfpack, Miami catcher Zack Collins (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) was unable to catch the ball and apply the tag cleanly.
“I was excited until I saw the throw,” NC State head coach Elliot Avent said. “I think it beat him, but fortunately for us he [Collins] dropped the ball.”
“Honestly I was a little worried [when I saw the throw], because if he had caught it, I was going to be out by a good 20 feet, but thank god he missed it” Palmeiro added. “I just kept telling people that I was going to end it and I guess that does the job so I’ll take it.”
It was a back and forth game from the very beginning. George Iskendarian (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.) got the scoring started for Miami in the first inning scoring Ricky Eusebio (Homestead, Fla.) to give the Hurricanes the 1-0 lead. The ‘Canes added another run on the board in the third inning when Eusebio scored again, this time on a sacrifice fly by Collins.
The Wolfpack bounced right back however in the bottom of the third when Logan Ratledge (Charlotte, N.C.) tied the game at two with a two run single that scored Chance Shepard (Wilmington, N.C.) and Jake Fincher (Charlotte, N.C.).
It didn’t remained tied for long however as Miami retook the lead in the fourth on a RBI single by Eusebio and a ground out by Iskendarian to put the ‘Canes back up 4-2.
Ryne Willard (Smithsburg, Md.) started the NC State comeback in the sixth inning when he hit a one out solo home run that just got over the “blue monster” in left field just below the bull to make it 4-3. The Wolfpack were able to get two runners in scoring position with one out later in the inning but they were unable to drive either runner home and were left stranded.
Andrew Knizner (Glen Allen, Va.) tied the game in the ninth inning with an RBI groundout but Palmeiro was unable to win the game in the ninth as he popped out to end the inning stranding the potential winning run at third.
The NC State bullpen did a great job at keeping the Wolfpack in the game as they combined to pitch 10 innings of two run and five hit ball. The combination of Olczak, Travis Orwig (Parker, Colo.) and Tommy DeJuneas (Charlotte, N.C.) pitched 6.2 innings of one hit shutout baseball with 12 strikeouts.
“Our bullpen has been the strength of our pitching staff all year,” Avent said.
The best crowd of the tournament brought a lot of energy to the ballpark and provided a great atmosphere for the players.
“The atmosphere was awesome. State fans, they’re awesome and they create an environment that is fun to play in,” NC State reliever Jon Olczak said.
“The great thing is our crowd,” Avent said. “Sometimes they’re there, you notice a lot of people. Tonight they were there and they were loud. That keeps you going a little bit as a team. Got to give a big, big thank you to our crowd because they had a lot to do with us winning tonight.”
I can’t imagine what the crowd will be like Sunday.
Irish earn first ACC Tournament win in program history
DURHAM, N.C. — The Notre Dame Fighting Irish picked up their first ever ACC Baseball Tournament win in an 8-2 victory over Virginia at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
“I think this is just another step forward for us. And I hope to continue that momentum and play as well as we possibly can against Miami tomorrow, and see where the chips lay at the end of the day,” Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki said.
Irish starter Ryan Smoyer (Bowling Green, Ohio) pitched six solid innings giving up two runs on four hits and four walks.
“Ryan did a remarkable job on the mound considering I don’t know that he was as sharp as he’s been on prior outings,” Aoki said.
Smoyer’s quick pace made it difficult for Virginia hitters to get comfortable at the plate and into a rhythm according to Cavaliers head coach Brian O’Connor.
“I can see why he is 9-0 on the season,” O’Connor said. “He is difficult to get timing and rhythm off to hit. How does he do it? He does it by working very, very fast, filling the strike zone and changing speeds.”
” As a pitching staff we just try to constantly stay on hitters, don’t let them get time to regroup, and I think that works to our advantage,” Smoyer said.
Freshman right hander Brandon Bielak (Sayreville, N.J.) came in to pitch in relief the final three innings to pick up his first save of the season.
Virginia starter Brandon Waddell (Houston, Texas) was charged for six runs (four earned) with five walks and nine strikeouts in six innings pitched.
Two of those six runs came in on a crucial throwing error in the third inning by catcher Robbie Coman (Lake Worth, Fla.) on a dropped third strike, allowing Kyle Fiala (Atlanta, Ga.) and Ryan Bull (Eden Prairie, Minn.) to score and extend the Irish lead to 3-0.
Matt Thaiss (Jackson, N.J.) pulled the Cavaliers within one when he hit a two run double in the third inning to make it a 3-2 game.
The Irish however would blow the game wide open in the sixth inning when Cavan Biggio (Houston, Texas) hit a big two run triple to make it a 6-2 ballgame.
“Yeah, yesterday not just for me, but the whole team was having a tough game, overall and our lineup could just never get anything going yesterday,” Biggio said. “Today was just more of an approach where we just put the ball in play, not really try to do too much with the ball. And it kind of flowed with the whole lineup there. We got some hits going.”
The Irish added a couple more runs, adding a single run in both the eighth and the ninth innings to make it 8-2.
With the win, Notre Dame improves to 36-20 on the year and Virginia falls to 34-21 on the season and is no longer in contention to play in the ACC Championship game on Sunday. The Irish will play Miami Saturday afternoon. Virginia will finish up pool play Saturday night against N.C. State.
Bolt sparks Tar Heels in 6-3 win over Clemson
Skye Bolt’s (Woodstock, Ga.) three run home run in the third inning broke the scoreless tie and jump started the UNC offense giving them a 3-0 lead. The Tar Heels would add two more in the fourth and one more in the sixth as they held off Clemson’s comeback bid to win 6-3 over the Tigers.
Carolina finishes the ACC Tournament 1-2 in pool play and finish the season 34-24 while Clemson finishes 32-27 on the season. Both teams are on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.