RALEIGH, N.C. - Vanderbilt erased an early five-run deficit but the No. 16 North Carolina State Wolfpack scratched out a run in the eighth to win 6-5 and force a winner-take-all game tomorrow at Doak Field.
The Commodores (35-27) pushed two runs across in the seventh inning to tie the game 5-5. But the Pack responded in the bottom of the eighth to regain the lead. A one-out single from Brett Austin started the rally and Matt Bergquist's single through the right side plated the winning run. NC State (42-18) pitcher Ryan Wilkins then worked a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts to finish off the win.
The Pack raced out to an early lead scoring in four of the first five innings, including a pair of home runs. A solo shot in the bottom of the first inning from Ryan Mathews and a two-run homer in the third from Trae Turner made it 3-0 through three innings. NC State tacked on single runs in the fourth and fifth before the Dores jumped on the comeback trail again.
A sacrifice fly off the bat of Spencer Navin scored Conard Gregor, who reached on a one-out double, to put VU on the board for the first time. Tony Kemp led off the sixth with a walk and came around to score on Mike Yastrzemski's triple. A groundout to short scored Yastrzemski and cut the Wolfpack lead to 5-3. Connor Castellano singled to open the seventh and was followed by a walk to Kemp. With runners on second and third, Yastrzemski's bouncer to second scored Castellano to get Vandy within a run. Gomez came up with another clutch hit, ripping a double to score Kemp and tie the game.
The Dores looked to have a rally started in the eighth when Navin led off with a crisp single to left field. But a ground out to second and double play ended the inning. Navin was thrown out on the backside of the double play at third trying to advance on a ground ball to third base.
Drew VerHagen (6-3) took the loss despite four solid innings out of the bullpen. The big right-hander allowed two runs on five hits, retiring eight straight batters before allowing Austin's single in the eighth inning. Wilkins (4-2) picked up the win with two scoreless innings of work. Vanderbilt starter Kevin Ziomek lasted 3.1 innings giving up four runs on five hits. NC State starter Anthony Tzamtzis allowed five runs, four earned, on nine hits over 6.2 innings.
The Commodores and Wolfpack will play in a winner-take-all game tomorrow night at 6 p.m. CT. The winner of the Raleigh Regional will advance to play top overall seed Florida next weekend in Gainesville, Fla.
Vanderbilt Quotes Head coach Tim Corbin Opening statement I thought it was a good college baseball game. They came out firing tonight and swung the bat very well. I like how we got ourselves back into the game; I thought our kids just kept coming. We probably gave up a run a couple of times that we thought we would be able to make a play, but you can't fault the great effort of the kids. They hit the ball well tonight and did a nice job getting on base a few times. We'll be back, we'll give everyone their money's worth.
On the outcome of the game I felt like we were going to come back and win the ball game. It didn't work out that way in the end, but I think everyone felt that way. There were a couple of innings where Tzamtzis went through us a couple times, but I thought we would get rolling and make up some ground.
On possible elimination Elimination doesn't really mean much. It's really your perception, rather than a word. We were at a point where we lost 23 games in the middle of April, and we were four games away from being eliminated from NCAA eligibility. We just kept hacking away, and treated every game for what it was, rather than a dying moment, so to speak. I told the guys that we'll have a lot of fun tomorrow. We'll play well, I trust them. North Carolina State is a good team, and they're tough to slow down, but I like it, this is fun to play.
Conrad Gregor On tying the game I think we're a confident group, and we're never really out of the game. The difference in this game and maybe a few games back is maybe more timely hitting. A few balls bounced their way and led to them winning by one run.
On tomorrow's game Tomorrow is just another game. We've been at this for seven weeks now. Tomorrow is just another game, there's no panic in the bunker right now at all, and I think tomorrow we'll come out loose and confident and we'll play together as a team.
Mike Yastrzemski On staying in the game I think it's the fact that we realized that once we hit the ball, it's out of our hands. All we have to do is hit the ball and try to not do too much. Especially when you're down a few runs, you just have to chip away, you can't try to get a big hit and tie everything up in one swing. All we have to do is keep chipping, and that's what we've been able to do successfully.
On the pace of the game This is a real nice surface here, the ball plays fast. It'll get a little slick and mistakes happen, but the only thing you can do is push them aside and stick with your team, and if you stick with your team you know everything will stay straight.
Kevin Ziomek On the game plan Coming in, we had a game plan, and we were going to stick to it- just throw strikes and try to stay ahead in the count. They're a pretty good hitting team, and in a case like that it hurt us.
NC State Quotes NC State Head Coach Elliott Avent Opening Statement Wow, I've said it all year long about how consistent our team is. I've never been a part of a team that's this consistent day 1, game 1 up until now. But character goes along with consistency, not saying that we're perfect. We can get better. I wish there were some things that we had coached a little better probably.
On the consistency and character of this team The consistency and character of this team is outstanding. Somewhere along the line they got real tough. And getting tough goes with putting work in and wanting something real bad and not wanting to give it up.
On the performance of Tzamtzis I'm proud of his effort tonight. He came out really focused. A guy who's dealt with a blister that has caused a lot of discomfort. For him to go out and find his command on one of the biggest nights of the year shows what he's made out of.
Second Baseman Matt Bergquist On his day today All year they have been trying to get me to go the other way and I finally did and I was successful. I just had a really good day and it felt great.
Third Baseman Trea Turner On the 5-3-5 double play It was a huge play by Ciencin, he picked it and made a good throw so I put that all on him.
Pitcher Ryan Wilkins On the crowd and atmosphere of the stadium It's fun, you can't really put that in any other words. There's nothing better than that, it's something that every kid dreams about.