Posted: 11:55 p.m. Saturday, April 27, 2013
By Omega Wolf
Carlos Rodon continued his late-season resurgence and Travis Orwig notched his first career save as N. C. State held the nation's highest-scoring offense to just three runs. The 7-3 Wolfpack win knotted the series, setting up a Sunday night rubber match from Doak Field.
A night after leaving 12 men on base in losing the opener, the Pack (34-11, 15-8) got hits in the clutch, touching up Tarheel starter Benton Moss for six runs (five earned) in just four and one third innings. Moss was saddled with the loss for UNC (41-4, 19-3), his first of the season. Rodon collected his fifth win; he fanned 10 in six and two third innings before leaving with a high pitch count (129). His double-digit K total brought his NCAA-leading strikeout total to 105. Rodon had a shutout intact when he exited, but the normally stingy Grant Sasser struggled mightily after replacing Rodon, allowing both of the runners he inherited to score on a three-run homer off the bat of Cody Stubbs.
But Stubbs's poke was the only time the Tarheels cashed in on their scoring opportunities; they left 14 men on base. They had two on and one out when Orwig bailed out Sasser in the eighth against the teeth of the potent UNC batting order. Orwig got future first-round pick Colin Moran to fly harmlessly to centerfield and cleanup hitter Brian Holbertson to pop up to escape the frame unscathed. Orwig allowed just an infield single in the ninth as he shut the door.
Offense was not a problem for the Pack. They took a 1-0 lead after Trea Turner singled, stole second, and scored on Brett Austin's single in the third and then added three spots in the fourth and fifth. Grant Cylde started the fourth-inning rally when he was hit by a Moss pitch. One out later, Jake Armstrong walked to put two on. Bryan Adametz and Matt Bergquist followed with back-to-back infield singles to make it 2-0. After Armstrong scored on a passed ball, Turner's groundout plated Adametz to put the Pack up 4-0.
Clyde and Armstrong were in the middle of the rally again in the fifth. Clyde's double plated Jake Fincher all the way from first, and, after Brett Williams walked, the pair stole second and third before Armstrong's two-run single staked the Pack to a 7-0 advantage. The aggressive Pack swiped four bases on the evening including two by Turner, who had a pair of hits and a walk in the game. Armstrong reached base three times on a hit and two walks, and Adametz and Tarran Senay both had a pair of hits (though Senay's double was really a misplayed popup that fell between three Heels).
The Pack will try to win the series, and probably secure the right to host a super regional (providing they make it through the regional they are certain to host), behind freshman lefty Brad Stone. The Heels are also likely to see more of Sasser, who still has an ERA under one (0.86) on the season despite his rough outing, Orwig, and even freshman Will Gilbert, who threw an inning and a third of scoreless ball Friday, as Elliott Avent tries to neutralize Moran and the lefty-laden Heels' lineup with a steady stream of southpaws. Right-hander Chris Overman, who has not surrendered an earned run in 15 appearances this season, has yet to toe the rubber in the series, so he should be good for a multiple-inning relief outing if the need arises.
The rubber match will air at 7:00 p.m. on ESPNU.