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Palmeiro’s clutch hit, hustle play lifts NC State past second-seeded Miami
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Video: NC State's Palmeiro Scores Game-Winner on Crazy Play | NC State Hero Preston Palmeiro Talks About Unbelievable Game-Winning Play
DURHAM, N.C. (theACC.com) – Someone had to be the hero on Friday night, and NC State sophomore Preston Palmeiro seized the moment.
Palmeiro led off the bottom of the 12th inning with a double off the wall in left field, then hustled around to score on a throwing error to lift sixth-seeded NC State past second-seeded Miami, 5-4, in an Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship thriller at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The win clinched a spot in Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship game for the Wolfpack, which faces Virginia on Saturday night, but stands 2-0 in Pool B play and owns every tie-breaker even should it lose to the Cavaliers. NC State will face top-seeded Louisville or fourth-seeded Florida State, which will play for the Pool A title on Saturday at 11 a.m., for the ACC crown on Sunday.
The Wolfpack (33-20), which will appear in the title game for the first time since 2010, seeks its sixth ACC baseball championship and its first since 1992.
The Hurricanes (43-14), ranked sixth nationally and winners of 13 consecutive games prior to Friday night, meet Notre Dame in their third and final game of the 2015 ACC Championship on Saturday at 3 p.m. Miami will then await Monday’s announcements of the NCAA Tournament field and remains hopeful of a national seed.
With the Wolfpack already having excited its faithful among the 6,806 in attendance by tying the game in the bottom of the ninth, Palmeiro stepped in in the 12th inning to face Miami reliever Michael Mediavilla.
Palmeiro’s teed off on the second pitch for a high drive that glanced about halfway up the left field wall and was retrieved by the Hurricanes’ Carl Chester, who attempted to nail Palmeiro at second base. The throw was well off the mark, however, and Palmeiro received the green light as he never slowed up and rounded third.
Miami first baseman Christopher Barr ran the ball down and made a strong throw to the plate, but catcher Zack Collins could not come up with the ball cleanly as he attempted to make a sweeping tag on the sliding Palmeiro.
Tommy DeJoneas (3-3), the fifth NC State pitcher of the night, earned the win after a brilliant three innings of which he struck out six Hurricane batters and allowed just one hit. The Wolfpack got a similar effort in the middle innings by reliever Joe Olczak, who did not allow a hit while walking one and striking out a career-high tying six batters in 3.1 innings.
With leadoff hitter Ricky Eusebio serving as the catalyst, the Hurricanes built a 4-2 lead through the first 3½ innings. Eusebio drew three walks, scored three of Miami’s four runs and drove in the other with a fourth-inning single.
But Ryne Willard’s fourth home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth brought the Wolfpack within a run. The score remained 4-3 until the bottom of the ninth, when a one-out walk by pinch-hitter Shane Shepard, a single by Logan Ratledge and Andrew Knizner’s RBI groundout tied the score at 4-4 and set up the big finish.
Ratledge’s ninth inning single was his second big hit of the night. His two-run single in the third inning tied the score at 2-2.
George Iskenderian drove in two runs for Miami, and Ratledge and Knizner each had two hits for the Wolfpack.
NC State’s five pitchers combined to allow five hits while walking 11 batters and striking out 17. Miami used four pitchers in the game, and they combined to allow eight hits with five walks and 14 Ks.