NC State tops Rice 5-4 in 17 innings, advances to College World Series
Posted June 9, 2013
Updated June 10, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina State did not get their first lead of the game until the 17th inning, but it stood as the Wolfpack defeated Rice 5-4 and advanced to the College World series.
Wolfpack clean-up hitter Tarran Senay led off the 17th inning with a single – the first for NC State since the 10th inning – and came around to score two batters later on a Brett Williams double to right center putting NC State up 5-4. Rice put their leadoff man on in the bottom half, but Wolfpack pitcher Ethan Ogburn stranded him at third to earn the win.
"It doesn't matter how we win as long as we get the win," Senay said. "This team is special but we're not done yet."
With the win, NC State earned their first College World Series berth since 1968. Many of the members on that team were in attendance Sunday to witness the longest game in super regional history that ended in a Wolfpack dog-pile at the mound.
"It's a heartbreaking loss, of course, but I'm sure NC State will do very well in the College World Series," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham.
Playing as the visitors, NC State went to the ninth inning trailing 4-1 before posting a game-tying rally that began with a hit batter. Two batters later, the Wolfpack had two on base with one out for Jake Fincher who promptly delivered a two-run double on a full count to bring the game to 4-3. Senay followed with an RBI double into the right field corner to tie the game at 4.
The game was delayed 77 minutes in the bottom of the 12th as rain moved through the area. A total 7 hours, 32 minutes elapsed from first pitch to last.
Three of the Owls five runs came on solo home runs. Christian Stringer gave Rice a 1-0 lead in the first, then a 2-0 lead in the sixth. Rice designated hitter, Michael Aquino belted the third one on the day as he hit a line drive over the wall in left to lead off the seventh.
For Stringer, who entered the weekend with just one home run in 294 plate appearances on the year, he hit three in two games in Raleigh. He went 2-for-4 Sunday with three of walks in addition to the home runs.
"I'm just trying to hit line drives and hit something to right field," Stringer said. "I'm not a power hitter so it surprised me, too.
NC State (49-14) starter Logan Jernigan went five innings allowing just two hits. Reliever DJ Thomas allowed one hit – a home run – in two-thirds of an inning. Andrew Woeck, who entered the game with a 10-inning scoreless streak, gave up the long ball to Aquino. In all, the Wolfpack used nine pitchers.
NC State scored one run in the seventh inning after loading the bases with nobody out. An RBI ground out by Saturday’s hero Fincher scored Jake Armstrong. Rice got out of the inning a batter later when Logan Ratledge was thrown out at home trying to tag up on a shallow Brett Austin fly out.
Rice (44-20) got a run in the eighth on a squeeze bunt by Leon Byrd that scored Keenan Cook. The run was also charged to Woeck.
Owls’ starter Jordan Stephens (8-4) did not factor in the decision despite 6.1 innings of work. He struck out five while walking two and was charged with one run. Zech Lemond threw three innings giving up the big NC State rally in the ninth. John Simms got credit for the loss throwing 7.2 innings of relief.
NC State will play the winner of Monday's North Carolina-South Carolina game in Game 1 at the College World Series.
"That's the goal, you want to go to Omaha," said NC State centerfielder Brett Williams. "You want to achieve all you can achieve."