In the bottom of the 12th inning, Preston Palmeiro doubled to leftfield and then dashed all the way home on a two-base throwing error--slidly safely only when the catcher bobbled the ball--to give NC State an astonishing, 5-4, win over No. 8 Miami at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Friday.
The win moves the Wolfpack to 32-20 overall and, more importantly, 2-0 in pool play to clinch a berth in the ACC Baseball Championship Game on Sunday at 1 p.m. NC State will take on the winner of Saturday’s matchup between Florida State and Louisville.
NC State has only won a single ACC title (1992) since 1976. It will be the first time the Pack has reached the Final since falling to the Seminoles in 2010.
To reach the Championship Game, the Wolfpack had to twice rally from two runs down. NC State trailed, 4-3, heading into the bottom of the ninth.
“Great game obviously,” NC State head coach Elliott Avent said. “Seems like we have a knack for playing these type of games over here. [I am] just really proud of our team.”
Tommy DeJuneas (3-3) hurled three innings of relief to pick up the win, allowing only one hit and one walk while fanning six. Michael Mediavilla (3-2) took the loss after the bizarre ending.
Miami only mustered six hits over the course of the game and struck out 17 times against five NC State pitchers. The Hurricanes were patient at the plate however and used 11 walks to lead twice in the contest.
The Wolfpack initially battled back to tie the game at two in the third inning when Logan Ratledge smacked a 2-0 pitch to left-centerfield. Miami responded immediately with two runs in its half of the fourth to regain the advantage.
Ryne Willard drilled his fourth homer of the season in the bottom of the sixth to cut Miami’s lead in half at 4-3. That is where the score stood in the bottom of the ninth when Andrew Knizner’s ground out brought home pinch runner Jake Armstrong to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
That set up Palmeiro’s heroics--and a lot of luck.
“I knew I had a double,” Palmeiro said. “I was just trying to hustle. And when he threw it in, I could tell it was offline and I knew that they didn’t have a shot to catch it so I kept going.”
“Honestly, I was a little worried because if [Miami’s catcher Zack Collins] caught it, I was out by a good 20 feet….I guess that does the job so I’ll take it.”
NC State will take it also. The Wolfpack will play for the ACC title on Sunday.