Pack Stays Alive, 6-5

AUSTIN, Texas - Matt Camp's two-out bunt single drove in the winning run in the 10th inning, and 21st-ranked NC State escaped nearly impossible jams in the eighth and ninth innings Saturday to defeat UT-Arlington 6-5 in an elimination game in the NCAA Austin Regional at Disch-Falk Field.

NC State inproved to 39-22 with the win and lives to play another day. The Wolfpack will face the loser of Saturday afternoon's Texas-Stanford game. UT-Arlington fell to 29-36 and was eliminated from the tournament.

Joel Brookens (1-1), the sixth and final NC State pitcher used, got the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Brookens did not allow a hit, walked one and struck out two. Brandon Endsley (1-4), the third of five UTA hurlers, took the loss after allowing one run on one hit in 1 1/3 innings.

The Wolfpack got the scoring started in the top of the second inning. Jon Still led off with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. Brian Aragon, who went 4-for-4 and drove in two runs, stroked a double down the right-field line to drive in Still, but rounded too far past second base and was cut down for the first out of the inning. Matt Mangini and Ryan Pond singled up the middle, and after Caleb Mangum flied out for the second out, Jonathan Diaz walked to load the bases. Matt Camp hit a high chopper to second base that should have ended the inning, but second baseman Daniel Reider threw the ball away for a two-run error that gave NC State a 3-0 lead.

Robby Winn led off the bottom of the second by driving Wolfpack starter Eryk McConnell's 1-0 pitch over the left-field wall for a solo homer, trimming the lead to 3-1.

McConnell cruised through the first four innings, but hit the wall hard in the fifth. Ben Burum led off with a first-pitch single up the middle. Danny Slinkman walked, putting runners on first and second with none out. Brock Wilson tried to bunt the runners over, but McConnell jumped on the ball and nailed Burum, the lead runner, at third base for the first out of the inning. Kyle Rudy singled to center to load the bases with one down, and Collin Gardner, who came into the game hitting .239, cleared the bases with a three-run double down the left-field line to give UTA a 4-3 lead. Reider followed with an RBI single to right that made it 5-3 and drove McConnell out of the game. Kyle Rutter made his second appearance in as many days and pitched out of the inning, allowing just one walk.

UTA starter Chris Turner left the game after two innings, replaced by lefthander Ryan Riddle, the projected game one starter for the Mavericks. Riddle quickly restored order, stranding two runners in the third, one in the fourth and two more in the fifth. He did not allow a runner past second base and retired seven of eight NC State hitters until Aaron Bates hit a one-out double to right-center in the top of the seventh and scored on Still's bloop single into no-man's land between the right fielder, center fielder and second baseman. That was the first run Riddle had allowed in 16 2/3 innings.

Pond led off the top of the eighth with a single to center and Mangum beat out a sacrifice attempt for a bunt single. The Mavericks put the wheel play on for Diaz and turned his sacrifice attempt into a double play. Mangum wound up on second on the play and came around to score the tying run on Camp's two-out single to left.

By all rights, UT-Arlington should have won the game in either the eighth or ninth, but the Wolfpack managed to wriggle off the hook both times. Sam Walls came in to work the bottom of the eighth, and David McLeod started the inning off with a single to right-center, then went to third on Adam Moore's hit-and-run single to right. Winn grounded the ball right back to Walls, who tagged out McLeod between third and home after a rundown for the first out. Walls attempted to pick Moore off second and was called for a balk on the play, advancing the runners to second and third.

Kyle Thomason ran for Winn at second base, and Eric Surkamp came in to pitch for the Wolfpack. Burum hit a sharp grounder to second baseman Ramon Corona, who looked Moore back to third, then threw Burum out at first. Pinch-hitter James Smith flied out to end the inning.

Surkamp hit pinch-hitter David Newby with a pitch to start the bottom of the ninth, and Rudy's single through the right side of the infield put the potential game-winning run on third base with none out. Collin Garner hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Drew Martin, who nearly tagged Newby out in running him back to the bag, then threw Garner out at first. Reider received an intentional walk to load the bases, and Joel Brookens was summoned from the bullpen. McCleod ended the inning by hitting the ball where he shouldn't - right at Diaz, who started a 6-4-3 double play.

Marcus Jones got the Wolfpack's winning rally started with a leadoff single up the middle in the top of the 10th. Mangum bunted Jones to second, and Jones, on a gutsy play, went to third base on Diaz's fly ball to left field. With the third baseman playing behind the bag, Camp dropped the 0-1 pitch down the third-base line for a bunt single that drove in Jones with the go-ahead run.

UTA still had one last gasp remaining. Kyle Thomason drew a one-out walk and went to second on a wild pitch. Brookens struck out Burum for the second out, but James Smith hit a sharp grounder up the middle that should have driven in the tying run. Instead, he was robbed by Diaz, who made his third highlight-reel play of the game to end the inning and the game.

The Wolfpack will play the loser of the Texas-Stanford game at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday. WKNC-FM (88.1) will broadcast all of NC State's tournament games live, and all broadcasts will be available online at gopack.com through Yahoo's subscription service.


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