LOUISVILLE, KY -- After a hot streak to end the regular season and a win over Boston College to start the ACC Championship Tournament, NC State (34-23) fell too far behind too early as second-seeded UNC (46-11) advanced to the semifinal with a 12-4 win over the Wolfpack Friday at Louisville Slugger Field.
"It's not everyday you can start off against your archrival in a game in the semifinals of the ACC Championship down 10-0," NC State head coach Elliott Avent said. "That's tough for anybody to take. How our guys played from then on is something I'll always remember because I thought we played extremely well."
Junior left-hander Brian Brown was chased off the mound in the first inning as the Tar Heels pounded 10 runs in the frame, with eight being unearned.
Brown, freshman right-hander Michael Bienlien, and redshirt-sophomore righty Austin Staley each saw action in the decisive first inning that included UNC loading the bases twice, two Wolfpack errors, and 15 Tar Heel batters at the plate.
It took the Wolfpack until the top of the third to muster its first runs. Junior catcher Andy Cosgrove and junior right fielder Brock Deatherage led off with back-to-back doubles, the latter of which resulted in Cosgrove scoring. Deatherage reached third on a fly-out before scoring on a sacrifice fly by junior center fielder Josh McLain.
“We just tried to continue to stick with our approach and see some pitches and get your timing down,” Deatherage said. “We both saw a good pitch to hit, and we both drove it in. “We're playing our best ball right now, and something like that is what shows for it.”
Seeking to end the game with the 10-run mercy rule as they had in their game against Boston College, the Heels followed the Pack’s two-run third with one run each in the third and fourth. However, McLain showed that NC State wouldn’t go down quietly as the Hiddenite, N.C. native drilled a solo home run to lead off the fifth.
The Wolfpack’s final run came in the eighth when junior shortstop Joe Dunand tripled to start the inning and scored on sophomore left fielder Brett Kinneman’s sacrifice fly.
NC State’s fate rests in the hands of the NCAA Tournament selection committee. The tournament field will be announced starting Monday at noon on ESPN2.
"We're in a great spot right now," Sean Adler said on NC State's tournament hopes. "We're getting ready for the postseason, and I'm looking forward to what we have to do."