Noles Rally Past Pack in ACC Finals, 8-3

NC State led for much of the game but Florida State score two runs in the seventh to take a one-run lead and pulled away in the eighth inning to defeat the Wolfpack 8-3 in the finals of the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship.

NC State entered the bottom of the seventh inning just nine outs away from an ACC title but couldn't hold onto a one-run lead as Florida State overcame the deficit to claim their sixth ACC title.

NC State, playing the championship game virtually hours after advancing, jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a solo homer by Andrew Ciencin in the top of the second. However the lead wouldn't last long as Florida State took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning thanks to a sacrifice fly and a double by Devon Travis.

State reclaimed the lead with runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Ciencin scored on a sacrifice fly from Tarran Senay and drove in Dallas Poulk in the fifth with a two-out RBI single. Ciencin finished the day 3-of-4 with two RBIs and over the weekend he set the Wolfpack's single-season record for RBIs.

Pack starter Alex Sogard settled down and allowed just two runs before exiting in the fifth when Rob Chamra pitched out of a bases-loaded jam. Chamra struck out Stuart Tapley and forced a fly out from Jayce Boyd to end the inning after hitting the first batter he faced to load the bases.

The Noles had runners in scoring position again in the sixth inning, and this time Grant Sasser was on the mound to pitch out of the jam for the Wolfpack. With two outs and runners on first and second, Sasser appeared to have struck out Mike McGee, but a balk was called on the Pack reliever to move the runners into scoring position at second and third. On the next pitch he struck out McGee swinging to end the rally.

While State's pitchers were holding the Seminoles off the Pack's offensive attack went cold. FSU's Sean Gilmartin entered in the fifth and pitched three innings. He allowed just two hits and zero runs.

Florida State finally broke through again in the bottom of the seventh. A sacrifice fly scored the tying run, and the Noles took the lead on a two-out single from catcher Rafael Lopez.

State had a chance to tie the game in the top of the eighth after Harold Riggins started the inning with a double. The Pack chose to not bunt him over and Gilmartin came through for Florida State. He forced a fly out by catcher Chris Schaeffer and Pratt Maynard popped up to second, neither could advance Riggins. Russell Wilson struck out swinging, and Riggins was stranded at second base.

FSU busted the game open in the bottom of the eighth by putting four more runs on the board, but the biggest hit came on Pack catcher Chris Schaeffer. With FSU leading 5-3, James Ramsey plowed into Schaeffer at the plate as he tried to score on a sacrifice fly. Schaeffer was knocked out on his feet and had to be taken away in an ambulance to a local hospital.

Florida State scored two more runs following the collision on a RBI single, and retired the Pack in the top of the ninth to secure the ACC Title.

Despite the loss NC State had a strong weekend, particularly at the plate. First baseman Harold Riggins was named ACC Tournament MVP Riggins as he went 9-16 in the tournament with two homers including a monster shot over the scoreboard in Saturday night's win over Virginia Tech.

Now NC State (38-22) must wait until tomorrow to see if they will continue playing this season. The NCAA is expected to announce the at-large bids and tournament field Monday around noon.

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