RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina State rallied to score six runs over the final two innings to eliminate Vanderbilt with a 9-7 victory at Doak Field.
The Commodores (35-28) took a 7-3 lead into the eighth inning before the Wolfpack (43-18) started their comeback. NC State reliever Ryan Wilkins worked the team's first 1-2-3 inning of the night in the bottom of the seventh to get the crowd back into the game. With the crowd still on its feet to start the eighth, Brett Austin led off the inning with a walk. A double down the left field line from Logan Ratledge chased Vandy reliever Tyler Beede and put runners on second and third. Freshman lefty Philip Pfeifer was summoned from the bullpen to face left-handed hitting Tarran Senay, who entered the game an inning earlier as a defensive replacement. Senay lifted a 3-2 pitch high into the air and over the right field fence for a three-run homer to cut the Commodores' lead to a single run.
Will Clinard entered in the eighth to get the final out of the inning and preserve the Dores' one-run lead. In the ninth, Andrew Ciencin ripped a single to center field to start the inning. Jake Fincher then laid down a sacrifice bunt that was fielded by third baseman Riley Reynolds, who gloved the bunt and threw to first base. But the throw hit Fincher, who was running in fair territory, and bounced away allowing pinch runner Bryan Adametz to reach third with Fincher safe at first. After a groundout to first base, Clinard issued an intentional walk to Ratledge to load the bases with one out and set up a potential game-ending double play. Senay, however, had other ideas, flipping a single over second baseman Tony Kemp's head to score two runs and give Senay five RBI in two at-bats. Trea Turner followed with a RBI-single to give the Wolfpack an insurance run.
Wilkins finished off the game striking out the side in the ninth after a leadoff walk to send NC State to the Super Regional in Gainesville, Fla. next weekend against the top-seeded Florida Gators.
The Commodores took the lead in the third inning, scoring five runs on five hits after the Wolfpack had scored two to reclaim the lead in the top of the inning. Kemp led off the frame with a double and came around to score on Mike Yastrzemski's single. After Yastrzemski stole second, Gregor singled to drive in a run and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Freshman Connor Castellano capped the rally with a two-run single. The Dores tacked on another run in the fifth with Castellano's second RBI-double.
Yastrzemski led Vandy with the first first four-hit game of his career, including a first inning home run. Castellano added two doubles and three RBI while senior Riley Reynolds added two hits in his final game as a Commodore. Senay came up big for the Wolfpack with five RBI while freshman Trea Turner chipped in three of NC State's 13 hits.
Wilkins (5-2) earned the win with 4.2 scoreless innings of relief for NC State. The right-hander scattered three hits and punched out six while holding down the Vandy offense to allow the comeback. Clinard (7-3) took the loss giving up three runs, two earned, on three hits in one-plus inning. Beede was stellar for the Dores out of the pen working 5.1 innings and leaving with a 7-3 lead. The freshman matched a career-best with eight strikeouts. Wolfpack starter Logan Jernigan was roughed up for seven runs on eight hits over four-plus innings.
Following the game, six Commodores were selected to the All-Tournament team with Spencer Navin, Conrad Gregor, Anthony Gomez, Mike Yastrzemski, T.J. Pecoraro and Tyler Beede earning recognition.
Vanderbilt finishes the season 35-28 after starting the season 7-15.
Head coach Tim Corbin
First off, I want to congratulate North Carolina State. They're a very good team, you could see that tonight. I want to thank the people of North Carolina State as a whole for putting on a very good regional, and our fans, for spending the money to come watch us and spend an extra night supporting our team. As far as the game is concerned, this can be a tough game sometimes. It was a tough setting for them the other night when we came all the way back, and they just reversed the roles in this particular game. We had a sizable lead of four runs- I guess you can't say sizable because four runs in this particular ballpark, and with their offensive team, isn't very much. They did a nice job of getting runners on base in the eighth, and in the ninth, to build rallies. I think when it comes right down to it, the most valuable player of that game was Ryan Wilkins. He changed the momentum of the game, and because he changed the momentum of the game their offense had a chance to catch up. The three toughest outs in baseball are when you have a lead and are trying to squelch the other team, so hats off to him, and hats off to my team. I can't say in words how I feel about them, I'll save that for another day. The cruelty of this is that it comes to an end, and that sucks. That's the worst thing about coaching. I've said it before, it's like a car that's going 100 miles and hour and slams into a wall, and then it's over.
We just thought tonight was a better match for Jared Miller to start the game. We thought he did okay, Turner came out of the gates quick and hit that line drive right back at him, and I knew that hurt him a little bit. He was limping back and forth. I thought Tyler Beede was very good, I thought for five innings he pitched very, very well. I think he got tired in the eighth, they went to a situation where they tried to fake the bunt to add some distraction and get him out of rhythm, and it actually worked because at that point he walked a hitter, but I can't fault him. We put that game in the hands of four freshmen. That's a large, tall task for kids in this environment. The State crowd got into it, about the seventh or eighth inning I think their team could feel them a little bit, and it was noticeable. I think that has an effect on kids. I thought Tyler [Beede] was very good, he did a nice job holding them down, and they're a very tough team to hold down.
We were knowing of Senay, you have to give him some credit. He had no part in the first few games, at least against us. The fast ball, left on left, he just did a nice job of clearing it out of the park. Then the other ball that he drove in, he had five RBIs. They leaned on him, and he came off the bench and gave them something that they really, really needed. That's the way this game is, people step up big in big situations.
On the NC State vs. Florida match-up:
I think North Carolina State stacks up well. They have a very good hitting team; they have a couple of guys that can leave the ballpark. Mathews is a quality power hitter. They have a very similar ballpark to what you guys play here at NC State, the lines are very shallow. In saying that, I'd say Florida was the best team in the country that we faced this season. That's no knock on North Carolina State, I'm just telling you what we saw. Their pitching is very good, they can hit, they don't make mistakes, and they'll be playing at home. Does that factor into it, yes. Does North Carolina State have an opportunity to win? Absolutely. They're going to have to pitch well, they're going to have to hold them down, but Rodon is as good as what you're going to see. He can beat anyone at any given time, he doesn't seem like he's affected by much, at least in the games I saw him pitch on television and at Florida State. And Wilkins is tough, he did a nice job against us; he came out of the bullpen two times. So yes, it will be a good series.
On the late momentum shift:
I think for either team, it's just one of those things we couldn't close down tonight. We needed to score some more runs after the five spot, and even after the one run. We really couldn't push it because we weren't getting runners on base, and that's a credit to Wilkins. In this series, it was one of those situations where the team that had the win late wasn't necessarily going to be the winner. That's just the way the series went, but it was three quality ballgames.
On building the lead and the emotions of the last two innings:
I think coming into the game, we had a lot of confidence. We were ready to take on the task at hand. Getting into a big lead is always fun. Like our coach said, when things come crashing down all at once it hurts, but I can't give enough credit to our bench and to my teammates. There wasn't a second that we didn't think we were going to come back again, and being around that brings your emotions back. This group has the most heart of any team I've ever been around, and it's something I'll never forget.
On his two big hits:
It's just whatever we can do for our team. We have guys on our bench who can contribute all the time, and this whole year we've had bench players be able to come off the bench and help the team. The bunker did a great job with energy tonight, and it's just a tough way to end the year.
NC State Quotes
Head Coach Elliott Avent
There's a reason that happened. If you don't believe in yourself all the way through no matter how it looks, then it's never going to happen and that's what this team is all about. They haven't lost more than two games in a row all year. They've been consistent since our first weekend of the year. That character was high when it started and it get higher as the season went on.
On the emotional win:
Every time you when a game like this, it makes you a little bit tougher and it makes you feel like you can do anything.
On Tarran Senay:
Played all year, played for three years, then didn't play much this weekend because of a lot of left-handed pitching. He went out about his business and took bp (batting practice) and was professional about and he gets the two biggest hits of the night at the right time.
On being down 7-3:
Obviously, when you're down 7-3 in the same dugout where you blew and 8-3 lead against a team like that who's one of the hottest teams in the country. The crowd played a huge part in that comeback, so I really want to thank the fans.
Outfielder Tarran Senay
On his performance:
It was a great game, we fought and fought, this team never gives up and its so fun to play for. I'm at a lost for words, my teammates gave me an opportunity to come up with some big hits and luckily I was able to come through.
On the second at-bat being down two strikes:
I was definitely not trying to strike out and somehow I made contact and got it over the second baseman's head.
Outfielder Ryan Mathews
On the mood of the dugout when they were down 7-3:
We've been down a lot and had a lot of comebacks this year. There's one thing about this team and its that we don't look too far ahead. We're still just trying to win each inning and win each pitch.
Pitcher Ryan Wilkins
On his outing:
The crowd was electric. The fans were unbelievable. I was pretty much trying to spot my fastball and work in my slider and my change-up was working well also.