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NC State gains new life in ninth, sinks Georgia Tech in 12th
DURHAM, N.C. (theACC.com) – NC State will leave the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship on a winning note.
Brock Deatherage’s two-run opposite-field homer to left in the top of the 12th inning lifted the fifth-seeded Wolfpack to a 7-5 win over ninth-seeded Georgia Tech before a crowd of 5,848 late Friday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The game was the final one for each team in this year’s ACC Championship, but both remain hopeful of at-large postseason berths when NCAA selections are announced on Monday. NC State (35-20) entered Friday night’s game with an RPI of 11 and the second-highest strength of schedule ranking nationally. Georgia Tech (36-23) owned a No. 20 RPI and ranked ninth in strength of schedule.
The game appeared to be over in top of the ninth inning, when NC State pinch-hitter Shane Shepard lofted a high fly to center field with two outs and Georgia Tech leading 5-3. But the Yellow Jackets’ Ryan Peurifoy dropped the ball to leave runners on second and third, and Stephen Pitarra followed with a base hit up the middle – only the Wolfpack’s second since the second inning – to bring them both home and tie the score at 5-5.
NC State reliever Austin Staley then came on to retire the side in order in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game into extra innings.
The Yellow Jackets had wiped out a 3-0 deficit in the bottom of the fourth, when they sent nine men to the plate, collected five hits off Wolfpack starter Brian Brown and scored five runs. Two runners scored on wild pitches, while Trevor Craport tripled home another run, and Tristin English and Joey Bart had run-scoring singles.
Georgia Tech’s flurry offset a big NC State second inning, which saw Brent Kinneman tag Yellow Jackets’ starter Cole Pitts for a two-run homer and Chance Shepard follow with a solo shot to give the Wolfpack a 3-0 lead.
The hard-luck ninth inning resulted in a no-decision for Georgia Tech reliever Matthew Gorst, who turned in his second-longest outing of the season while working five innings. Gorst allowed just two hits while striking out a career-high eight batters. With the dropped fly ball making both of NC State’s ninth-inning runs unearned, he lowered his ERA for the season to a miniscule 0.36.
Both teams missed chances in extra innings, with NC State leaving the bases loaded in the 10th inning and the Yellow Jackets doing the same in the 11th before Deatherage delivered what proved to be the game-winning blow in the top of the 12th off Tech reliever Burton Dulaney (2-5).
Will Gilbert (4-1) pitched the 10th and 11th innings for the Wolfpack to earn the win, and Johnny Piedmonte struck out the side in the bottom of the 12th to pick up his first save of the season.