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May 30, 2010
By BILL HASS
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Pratt Maynard knew his teammates had confidence in him and he felt it was time to deliver.
NC State’s designated hitter singled in the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning and the Wolfpack made it stand up for a 10-9 win over Virginia Tech Saturday at the ACC Baseball Championship.
The win propelled the Wolfpack into the title game Sunday against Florida State at 1 p.m. at NewBridge Bank Park.
The Seminoles will be well-rested, having completed their round-robin play Friday. The Pack, on the other hand, played twice Saturday. Their day began at 10 a.m. with the resumption of the game suspended by rain against Georgia Tech Friday night.
That one wound up in a 17-5 shellacking in favor of the Jackets. State’s players returned to their hotel, then came back at 9:30 p.m. and played until 1:23 a.m. to beat the Hokies. They play again less than 12 hours later.
“I think we’ve got something in our bags,” said center fielder Kyle Wilson. “It will be tough getting up in the morning but this group, we never quit, we never give up.
“If we’ve got anything left or we don’t, we’re going to come out and play. You’re going to see a good effort (Sunday), even though we might be a little tired.”
The heroes were plentiful for the Wolfpack. Maynard was one of them, taking a fastball from Virginia Tech’s Ben Rowen up the middle for a single to score Wilson with two outs. It was Maynard’s only hit of the game.
“Throughout the game I was struggling at the plate,” Maynard said. “Sometimes your teammates have more confidence than you do. I knew they had confidence in me, so I fed off them. It was a fastball away, I took it up the middle and it got through and we scored a run.
“We knew if we won we advanced to the championship. That’s what our goal was and now we’re going to win it.”
Another hero was Harold Riggins, who went 4-for-5, including a monster home run over the right field scoreboard in the fifth inning. John Gianis belted a homer in the fourth inning. Wilson had two hits and scored three runs.
But perhaps the star of the game was Wolfpack pitcher Jake Buchanan. After starter Cory Mazzoni was tagged for seven runs in the fourth inning to put Tech ahead 8-7, Buchanan got the call. He slammed the door on the Hokies, pitching six innings and allowing one run while striking out five.
Buchanan was the starter in Friday’s game and pitched the top of the first inning, giving up two runs to Georgia Tech, before the rain came. He did not pitch Saturday morning.
“I was playing catch before the (Virginia Tech) game and I felt pretty good,” he said. “I’m not sure they were planning to use me … but I told them I felt good and could throw out of the pen. I wasn’t really expecting to come in that
early, but it worked out.”
The key to his success, Buchanan said, was establishing his fastball in and out, getting ahead in the count, keeping the Hokies’ hitters off-balance.
Virginia Tech got down 7-1 early before rallying for seven runs in the bottom of the fourth. Andrew Rash hit a three-run homer and Steve Domecus a two-run shot in the inning.
State tied it in the fifth, Tech took the lead 9-8 in the seventh and the Pack eked out a run to tie in the ninth when pinch hitter Danny Camela was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
The Hokies hurt themselves with five errors that led to four unearned State runs.
“That’s an unbelievable baseball game,” said coach Pete Hughes. “It was fun to be a part of. Those are the great situations –we just didn’t win.
“You take your hat off to NC State for the two-out hit (by Maynard). We had a chance to do it and we didn’t. But (four) unearned runs, we don’t deserve to beat anybody, that was the story of the game.”
Avent, ejected in the eighth inning for arguing a play at the plate in which Wilson was thrown out, was asked who he might start in the championship game.
“We’ll give it to the guy who wants the ball,” he said.
He mentioned Alex Sogard and Anthony Tzamtzis as possibilities.
2010 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship
NewBridge Bank Park — Greensboro, N.C.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Game 12: #7 NC State vs. #6 Virginia Tech
NC State (38-21, 21-9 ACC)… …improves to 38-21 overall and 76-65 all-time in the ACC championship. ...advances to Sunday’s championship game against Florida State. …is appearing in the championship game for the 12th time in school history and first since 2006. …will be looking for its fifth ACC title in school history and first since 1992.
Virginia Tech (38-20, 16-14 ACC)… …falls to 38-20 overall and 2-2 in the ACC championship. …had four players with two or more hits.