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May 26, 2012
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) - A packed house got its money's worth Saturday night as North Carolina defeated NC State, 4-0, to end the 2012 ACC Championship pool play at NewBridge Bank Park.
An ACC Championship record crowd of 10,229 saw the Tar Heels break open a scoreless game with four runs in the 12th inning and end an evening pitching dominance.
The North Carolina (44-14) win eliminated NC State (39-17) from title consideration. Miami wins Division B on the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Tar Heels and will face Georgia Tech Sunday at noon for the conference title on ESPN2.
Colin Moran started the decisive 12th with a sharp single to right off reliever D.J. Thomas (2-2), the third of six Wolfpack pitchers. Jacob Stallings twice failed to bunt Moran over, but then singled. Cody Stubbs walked on four pitches. Vance Williams replaced Thomas with the bases full and no outs.
Williams got two quick strikes on Adam Griffin, but Griffin battled back to a 2-2 count and slapped a single to right through a drawn-in infield, scoring the first run. Travis Orwig relieved Williams and gave up an RBI single to Mike Zolk, making it 2-0.
Following a strikeout, Parks Jordan singled in the third run and Chaz Frank drove in the fourth with a sacrifice fly.
Although neither figured in the decision, freshmen starters Carlos Rodon and Benton Moss threw masterful games.
State's Rodon, the ACC Freshman and Pitcher of the Year, struck out 12, walked two and allowed only four hits in his 128 pitches.
Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent said his ace "could throw any pitch he wanted, where he wanted. He was so focused, yet so relaxed."
State's offense couldn't give him support against North Carolina's talented arms.
The teams generated few offensive opportunities. State's Trea Turner led off the bottom of the first inning with a bunt single. The NCAA stolen bases leader (55) swiped second as Chris Diaz struck out. Moss retired Ryan Mathews and Danny Canela on fly balls to escape unscathed.
Stubbs was the first Tar Heel to reach scoring position when he led off the fifth with a single and advanced to second base on a two-out grounder. Rodon struck out Tommy Coyle to end the inning.
North Carolina shortstop Michael Russell hit his first triple of the year with two outs in the sixth, becoming the first runner for either team to reach third. Colin Moran hit a soft liner into center field, which had hit written all over it. But State shortstop Diaz made a spectacular over-the-shoulder leaping catch to preserve the shutout.
Moss retired the first batter in the sixth before giving way to Hobbs Johnson. Moss allowed two hits with five strikeouts and a walk. North Carolina coach Scott Forbes - who was filling in for suspended head coach Mike Fox -- said Moss had a pitch limit of 80 pitches and he stuck to that strict total.
That turned the game over to a Tar Heel bullpen that Avent calls "probably the best in college baseball."
Ryan Mathews greeted Johnson with a single and stole second. Danny Canela then walked. This marked the first time either team had two base runners but the opportunity came to naught as Andrew Ciencin bounced into a double play.
Johnson again worked into a jam in the seventh. Brett Austin walked with one out and Fincher singled with two outs. Luis Paula was brought in to face Turner, and the NC State star struck out on four pitches.
Tar Heels closer Michael Morin (6-3) entered the game in the eighth. Diaz greeted him with a single, but Morin struck out Mathews and forced Canela to ground into a double play, leaving the game scoreless after eight.
The Diaz hit would be the only base runner allowed by Morin, who retired the last 14 batters he faced. Morin said he had been battling a stomach problem all week but told Forbes he could "throw about a million pitches" if he had to.
Carolina finally got to a tiring Rodon with two outs in the ninth. Stallings worked a nine-pitch walk and Cody Stubbs lashed a single into center field. Wolfpack center fielder Jake Fincher gunned down Stallings at third, ending the rally and Rodon's spectacular night.
The two bullpens held the fort in the 10th and 11th before the decisive 12th inning.
Avent said he was "very disappointed that we couldn't find a way for a team that wanted to win so bad."
Meanwhile, Forbes was celebrating a "great ending to the regular season, a great game between two great teams."
The announced crowd of 10,229 is the largest crowd to ever see a college baseball game in the state of North Carolina and set a new NewBridge Bank Park record.