"We're just trying to use every game to get better," Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent said. "Sure, we want to win the ACC championship. It will be a great game [Saturday night] with a great crowd and two great ballclubs. But there is also a bigger prize out there. That's why we want to keep getting better."
Miami coach Jim Morris is also focused on next week's NCAA Tournament after his team dropped to 0-2 in this tournament and was eliminated from championship contention. But the Hurricanes (35-23) will meet Clemson Saturday at 3 p.m. with their eyes on Monday's NCAA selection.
NC State used some aggressive base-running and a critical Miami defensive mistake to score those four second-inning runs - three of them unearned -- off Miami starter Chris Diaz (L, 6-5).
First baseman Tarran Senay opened the rally by drawing a leadoff walk. Third baseman Grant Clyde then beat out a bunt and both runners moved up on a sacrifice. It looked like Miami would escape trouble when Diaz fielded a sharp grounder from left fielder Bryan Adametz and trapped Senay in a rundown between third and home.
But with two outs and runners at the corners, Diaz was victimized by an infield hit by designated hitter Jake Armstrong to drive in the first Wolfpack run. Diaz got second baseman Logan Ratledge to bounce to short for what should have been an inning-ending play, but Miami's Brandon Lopez threw the ball away, allowing Adametz to score. When NC State shortstop Trea Turner beat out another infield hit, Armstrong and Rutledge were both able to score, giving the Pack a 4-0 lead.
"That was a huge inning - it took us right out of the ballgame," Morris said.
Miami had a chance to cut into the Pack's lead when the `Canes put together three hits and two walks in the bottom of the third, but a caught stealing and some clutch pitching with the bases loaded by Wolfpack starter Logan Jernigan limited the damage to one run.
Jernigan was not able to stick around long enough to get the win. Handed a 5-1 lead in the fifth, he walked the first two Miami hitters. Reliever Andrew Woeck (W, 6-1) induced third baseman David Thompson to ground to third - a play that the Pack's infield almost turned into a triple play. Thompson barely beat the relay to first, but Woeck got the next hitter on a pop-up to end the last significant Miami threat.
Avent used three relievers to finish the game as his offense added single runs in the fifth, sixth and ninth innings. The Hurricanes, beaten 10-0 by UNC Thursday, managed just five singles in nine innings. The `Canes have scored just one run in 17 innings so far in the tournament.