Emanuel, Heels Too Much for Pack

RALEIGH, N.C. – The N.C. State fan base was hyped for its home series against top-ranked North Carolina, as evidenced by a sold out set of games earlier in the week. The Wolfpack, however, had no match for Kent Emanuel and Co.

"It is a lot of fun," Emanuel said. "I remember walking down from the bullpen and all the students were riding us. It is a lot of fun. I enjoy it."

The Pack had their second biggest attendance total in school history, yet the Tar Heels quickly took the air out of the sails of the red and white faithful by knocking starting pitcher Ryan Wilkins out of the game with a mammoth home run from Colin Moran after a pair of base hits.

Junior outfielder Brian Holberton also hit a home run in the third inning to give the Heels a comfortable 5-0 lead.

Emanuel tied his career-high with nine strikeouts while allowing seven hits over 8.0 innings pitched.

"I think the big part today was how long it took me to figure out the zone," Emanuel said. "I think the product of all the base runners kind of showed you I was struggling to get a good grasp of what it was. I think as the game went on I was able to do that.

"When I am able to know where I am throwing it I can just focus on making it as sharp as I can, or as hard as I can, or make it move as much as I can. I think that is part of it and any time you go through the game I kind of get a feel for the hitters and I get a feel of what to throw them as the game goes on." Emanuel took control of the game showcasing his entire pitching repertoire as he grew more comfortable with the strike zone.

"He can throw any pitch at any count so it does not really matter what a hitter saw the first at-bat," UNC head coach Mike Fox. "He can't really get into a pattern with him. You can't go up there thinking, ‘He started me with this pitch,' because he is different with every guy. He can throw two change ups in a row which a lot of guys can.

"He threw a lot of first pitch get-me-over curveballs, especially in the middle of the game and he was getting ahead. Early on he was not throwing a lot of first pitch strikes. He had to work. He has to work every night but he only had one clean inning – 1-2-3. He was throwing out of the stretch and they have a guy on either with a base hit or a walk. You have to make pitches."

Emanuel's biggest challenge came in the seventh inning when the Wolfpack batters put three men on with no outs.

"We weathered the bases loaded storm," Fox said. "That is where Kent is at his best. He gets better when the situation gets dire."

Emanuel struck out five consecutive batters spanning the seventh and eighth innings.

"It is almost like you expect it now," Moran said. "I love playing behind him. He pitches quick and knows the zone. He's a really good pitcher. It is a sign of a good pitcher and he makes adjustments just as the other hitters are making adjustments. He's a stud."

Emanuel ended the nation's longest winning streak at 15 while earning his 26th career victory.

"I thought our approach against Emanuel was pretty good," NC State head coach Elliot Avent said. "We got on base a lot. We had a chance to get that big base hit. You have to give him credit for that too. Competitors like Emanuel - just because you didn't get the hit doesn't mean it was all on you. I thought his change-up was outstanding. He got in a rhythm with it and I thought that was big."

N.C. State has been propelled at the plate by sensational sophomore shortstop Trea Turner, who earned two of the three walks issued by Emanuel.

"I have not seen that many off-speed pitches all year," Turner said. "I had to adjust to that throughout the game. I think I saw four or five fastballs in my first four at-bats."

Turner and Emanuel also had an interesting cat-and-mouse game on the bases as Turner stole a pair of bags in the series opener.

Wolfpack ace southpaw Carlos Rodon will face off tomorrow evening against fellow sophomore Benton Moss. The N.C. State attendance record of 3,109 set in 2007 against UNC will be on the line along with a possible Tar Heel series win on Saturday night.

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