Overcoming a hometown crowd and a blistering June heat, the Wolfpack (42-21) bounced back from an 11-4 loss to dish out a beating of their own Saturday, downing Georgia (40-23-1) 10-6 to force a third and final game Sunday in the Athens Super Regional.
"You've got to tip your hat to them. They answered everything we had and kept us at bay all day," Georgia head coach Dave Perno said.
Clutch hitting, which defined Georgia's offensive performance on Friday, was nowhere to be found in Saturday's rematch. The Dogs left nine men on base, squandering numerous opportunities to even the score before N.C. State put the game out of reach late with six additional runs in their last two at-bats.
The Bulldogs pitching staff also was unable to match Friday's performance, walking a costly nine batters in addition to surrendering 12 hits.
"We just walked too many guys – can't happen in a game like this," Perno said.
Georgia starter Nathan Moreau only lasted 2.2 innings, giving up 5 hits and 4 earned runs in that time. He gave way to a bullpen, that save for Stephen Dodson, was unable to keep the game within reach for the Dogs..
In Friday's postgame press conference Perno warned about the necessity of winning today, as a loss would surely shift momentum to the visitors from Raleigh.
Now that reality is upon him. He hopes, however, that Georgia's brief rally in the 9th will carry over into a solid performance Saturday, as he believes State's two runs late yesterday did for them today.
"I think it gave them a boost today. They scored a couple runs late (yesterday). So hopefully what we did late in that last inning will give us a little boost tomorrow," Perno said.
To win the series and secure a ticket to Omaha, the Bulldogs turn to senior Nick Montgomery, whose most recent outing was a complete game against Georgia Tech in similar circumstances – with the Dogs facing elimination.
Knowing his track record, and their own in elimination games at Foley Field (currently 15-0), Georgia is confident about its chances tomorrow.
"No other guy you'd want taking it right now. His last three starts have all been very good. So we feel great. I know the players feel great about him taking the mound. I think we'll get his best effort," Perno said. Junior shortstop Gordon Beckham agreed.
"I couldn't ask for a better guy going tomorrow. Monty's the old man of the group and we've got a lot of faith in him. Whatever happens tomorrow, I know he's going to be giving it everything he's got. That's always nice to play behind," he said.
Georgia and N.C. State meet tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN. The winner will advance to the College World Series.