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May 27, 2011
DURHAM, N.C. - The 2011 ACC Baseball Championship got its first taste of free baseball Thursday night, lots of free baseball, the longest game in the event's history. After five hours and 488 pitches, Georgia Tech (40-18) outlasted North Carolina State (34-24) 6-5 in 15 tension-packed innings, a classic decided by a most improbable steal of home.
The clubs traded runs in the first. Kyle Wren led off with a walk for the Yellow Jackets, advanced to second on a passed ball and to third on a ground out. Matt Skole scored Wren with another ground out.
NC State answered with an unearned run. Pratt Maynard doubled and scored when Tech second baseman Mott Hyde couldn't handle Cameron Conner's hard grounder.
Wolfpack starter Rob Chamra kept his fastball down in the strike zone, forcing Tech to ground into double plays in the third and fourth innings.
His counterpart Jed Bradley labored early without his best stuff, throwing 64 pitches through three innings. But he battled, striking out Conner and Harold Riggins with runners on second and third in the third inning.
Skole broke the pitcher's duel, leading off the sixth with his ninth home run of the season, a blast that cleared the 400-foot sign in dead center field. Chamra walked Jake Davies, the next batter, and was replaced by Grant Sasser. Tech loaded the bases on a bunt single by Sam Dove and a walk and scored two runs on a single by Zane Evans, going ahead 4-1.
Bradley started getting ahead in the count and breezed through the middle innings, retiring ten in a row, before a one-out single by Conner in the sixth. But that hit was followed by a single from Riggins and a double by Matt Bergquist, making the score 4-2 and sending Tech to the bullpen.
Dusty Isaacs struck out pinch hitter Danny Canela on a full count and was replaced by left-hander Devin Stanton, brought in to face left-handed John Gianis. Gianis grounded out to end the threat.
Clay Dalton came on to start the seventh for Georgia Tech. He struggled with control, walking the bases loaded before registering a strike out. Conner hit a potential inning-ending double-play ball to shortstop but Jacob Esch couldn't come up with it and the tying runs scored on the error.
That ended Dalton's day. Luke Bard became Tech's fifth pitcher, taking over with the game tied and runners on the corner. Harold Riggins grounded out to shortstop, scoring Maynard with the go-ahead run.
Josh Easley took over for Sasser in the eighth and fanned the first two batters he faced. But a walk and a single by Brandon Thomas gave Tech runners at first and third. Zane Evans flared a single just out of reach of diving center fielder Brett Williams, tying the game at 5.
The Wolfpack squandered two golden opportunities to win in regulation. Danny Canela led off the eighth with a double and pinch runner Peter Bako advanced to third on a ground out. But Bard fanned Chris Diaz and Williams grounded out to second.
Maynard led off the State ninth with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Andrew Ciencin. Bard again slammed the door, retiring two batters on popups and sending the game to extra innings.
Bard credited the clutch pitching to concentration. "You've got to keep telling yourself to make good pitches."
Georgia Tech returned the favor in the tenth. Evan Martin led off with a single. Hyde struck out but Martin stole his first base of the season to reach second. Easley bore down and fanned Sam Dove and Brandon Thomas to escape the jam.
The Wolfpack got the potential winning run in scoring position in the tenth and eleven innings but again came up empty as Bard refused to allow the clutch hit. Bard pitched 4.2 scoreless innings with the game on the line.
The Yellow Jackets started the twelfth with singles by Matt Skole and Jake Davies but Chris Overman worked out of the jam.
The end came in stunning fashion. Mott Hyde doubled with one out and went to third on a ground out. On a 2-1 count, Hyde broke for home and Ogburn's pitch sailed wide. The steal of home was Tech's first since 2006.
Tech coach Danny Hall said he and Hyde both noticed that Ogburn was pitching from the windup. "We both kind of looked at each other and decided to go."
The Wolfpack had one final chance against Grimes (7-3) but mustered only a single walk.
Ogburn (6-4) took the loss for State.
Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent cited the game's "unbelievable plays, unbelievable focus. I've never been more proud of a team of mine."
The outcome leaves Georgia Tech, NC State, Clemson and Florida State all 1-1 in Pool B.
Clemson defeated Wake Forest 6-5 in 1986 in the 14th inning, the previous record-length game in the ACC Tournament.
The attendance at Durham Bulls Athletic Park was 3,098
Georgia Tech's Mott Hyde steals home in the 15th inning lifting Georgia Tech past NC State 6-5 in the longest game in ACC Baseball Championship history ... the game marked Georgia Tech's longest game since May 1, 1933, when the Yellow Jackets lost to Oglethorpe 4-3 on a single by the Stormy Petrels' 2B Monford Whitley ... it was the 41st extra inning game in ACC Tournament history ... eight Georgia Tech pitchers tied the ACC Tournament record with 18 strikeouts.
Armed & Numerous
A total of 33 pitchers were used in the three ACC Tournament games Thursday ... Georgia Tech used eight, North Carolina and Clemson six, Miami and NC State five and Florida State three.
After hitting just five home runs in his first 49 games, Georgia Tech 3B Matt Skole now has four round-trippers in his last eight contests ... Skole is second among active ACC players in career home runs (46).
Starting pitcher Jed Bradley struck out eight batters in 5.1 innings - the most for the junior southpaw over his last eight starts - and improves his career strikeout total to 250, good for fourth among active ACC pitchers.
With his sixth-inning run scoring single, Wolfpack 2B Matt Bergquist extends his hitting streak to 11 straight games and over that span he is hitting .357 (15-for-42) with 11 RBIs.