The Bulldogs responded in their half of the inning with two runs. After redshirt freshman catcher Craig Tatum was hit by a pitch, true freshman outfielder Jeff Butts hit a solid single to right field that Jeremy Cleveland let get by him, allowing the ball to roll to the wall. Both Tatum and Butts rounded the bases, giving MSU a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the 5th, the Tar Heels tied the game on a pass ball. Coach Polk replaced Blakeney with sophomore right-hander Saunders Ramsey. Ramsey ended the inning by getting the first batter he faced to fly out to center field.
The Bulldog added three runs in the bottom of the 5th to go up by three, 5-2. During the inning, true freshman outfielder Brad Corley knocked in one run while Tatum knocked in two.
The Tar Heels looked like they might rally in the top of the 6th after putting two men on with base hits after the first batter lined out to right field. After Ramsey recorded a fly out for the second out of the inning, Polk brought in closer Jonathan Papelbon to face Mike Daniel. Paps struck him out for the third out of the inning.
The MSU offense added another run in the bottom of the 7th with Tatum's third RBI of the game.
In the top of the 8th, the inning started off innocent enough with the first two North Carolina batters flying out. Then, Paps allowed three straight singles, the third one knocking in the Tar Heels' third run of the game. Paps ended the inning by striking out Ryan Blake on a 2-2 count with men on first and second. The score was now 6-3.
The wheels fell off for Mississippi State in the top of the 9th. The first two batters hit doubles down the right field and left field lines. The second double knocked in North Carolina's 4th run of the game. After Paps struck out Chad Prosser and Cleveland to record the first two outs of the inning, Farrell came to the plate. After swinging and missing the first pitch, he hit the second pitch over the left field wall near the 330' sign for a game-tying, two-run home run.
After a scoreless 10th inning for both teams, North Carolina scored two runs to go ahead 8-6 in the top of the 11th. Prosser doubled after the first batter fouled out to the catcher. Cleveland then walked. Farrell knocked in his 4th run of the game with a single up the middle. Sammy Hewitt singled to left field, loading the bases. Polk replaced reliever Robby Goodson, who had replaced Paps in the top of the 10th, with Alan Johnson. Johnson, on a 3-2 count, walked in the Tar Heels 8th run of the game. Wes Moyer ended the inning by grounding into a double play.
Needing two to tie and three to win, the Bulldogs didn't go quietly in the bottom of the inning. Redshirt freshman second baseman Thomas Berkery started the inning off with a single that was just out of the reach of the second baseman. Next up was true freshman center fielder Joseph Hunter. North Carolina replaced pitchers, bringing in Kevin Brower, their fifth pitcher of the game. Brower immediately hit Hunter, putting men on first and second with no outs. Senior shortstop Matthew Maniscalco laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, moving the runners over to second and third. Brower ended the scoring threat by recording a pop up and a ground out, sending North Carolina on to the Super Regional against South Carolina, the winner of the Georgia Tech Regional.
The Bulldogs, who had 11 hits in the game, were led at the plate by Tatum, who was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI. No other Bulldog had more than one hit.
North Carolina has five hitters with 2 or more hits, Farrell (4-for-6), Greg Mangum (3-for-5), Hewitt (3-for-6), Moyer (2-for-3) and Ryan Blake (2-for-5).
Scott Senatore, who pitched the 9th and 10th innings, won the game for the Tar Heels, while Robby Goodson took the loss for the Bulldogs after allowing 2 runs in 1.1 innings.
The attendance for the game was 7,374.
"North Carolina is a very nice ball club. They did what you had to do which is get the three-run home runs and the extra base hits, something that we weren't able to get done this weekend. Farrell is a hero for them today.
"The key to a four-team tournament is that second game. (A win) gives your kids rest and doesn't beat down your pitching.
"We had a chance at the end of the ball game when Manny gets a great bunt down and puts runners on second and third (with one out).
"Blakeney carried us into the middle part of the game. I would have liked to have gone longer with Ramsey and let Papelbon pitch an inning or two, but we felt like we didn't want to let the game get away from us.
"The kids tried as hard as they could. They played their hearts out. They wanted to win. They wanted to win for their fans. It just didn't happen. Life goes on. As I told them in the pregame meal this morning, I would be very proud of them win or lose and I really am. It was some veterans and a lot of youngsters. (The youngsters) probably saw a lot of things this weekend that will enable them to get better. I thanked the veterans, Manny, especially being a senior. I wished them well in their careers. Most of these guys will have the opportunity to go to that next level."
Matthew Brinson was a big run producer for you for most of the year, but seemed to go into a slump during the tournaments.
"I don't know what his numbers were, but he tried, probably tried too hard. That's a problem sometimes, kids try too hard. You overswing trying to hit a home run. That may have been the case."
Today was a tough loss but you had four great years here.
"It's tough, but you can't take away any of the memories that I have had from past teams and teammates and coaches. I have loved every minute of it.
"We believed we were going to make it to Omaha. We came out believing that we were going to win both games today. It didn't happen. North Carolina got it done. Hats off to them."
Talk about the home run in the 9th inning that tied the game.
"We were up by three and felt good, especially with Papelbon in. He's done it for us all year. He's handled the situations. When that guy hit the home run, you kind of questioned it a little bit, especially with two outs. I remember seeing it go over and for a split second, I thought that was meant to be. But as soon as that ball hit the ground, I was sitting there thinking that we are still going to win this game. There was no doubt in the mind of anybody in our dugout. That's why we've had the season that we have had."
Talk about the freshmen that will be back next year.
"They are studs. That's all you can say about them. They are a talented bunch. That's something that we questioned earlier in the year because we were banking on so many freshmen starting for us. I can remember at the beginning of the year hoping that they could handle it. It's not physical, but mental. It's tough out there. For them to show how strong they were mentally and physically, that was awesome. They were fun to play with because they have a lot of enthusiasm. I enjoyed every moment with those guys."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.