Logan Whitaker of the N.C. State Wolfpack celebrates his game-ending strikeout against the Duke Blue Devils in the 11th inning during the ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
DURHAM, N.C. – It took N.C. State’s Jacob Cozart a while to get his bat going against Duke Tuesday evening..
Cozart went 0-for-4 through the first nine innings, before his one-out single up the middle in the top of the 11th inning scored LuJames Groover III, put N.C. State back on top in the nightcap at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in the nightcap on the first day of the ACC Baseball Championship.
The ninth-seeded Wolfpack edged fifth-seeded Duke 8-7 in 11 innings after the Blue Devils’ relief pitching and persistent offense bedeviled N.C. State, propelling an improbable comeback in a game that saw Duke trail by six, only to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth.
In the top of the first, N.C. State got a lead off walk from Noah Soles, and then took a 2-0 lead over the Duke Blue Devils when the next batter, third baseman LuJames Groover III, blasted a two-run homer. A batter later, Cannon Peebles singled and chased Duke starter Aidan Weaver from the game.
In the second, Duke reliever Adam Boucher walked leadoff batter Parker Nolan. Kalae Harrison followed with a double, scoring Boucher, and Harrison would score three batters later on a single by Groover for a 4-0 N.C. State lead.
With Owen Proksch, Duke’s third pitcher of the night on the mound to start the third frame, Trevor Candelaria and Eli Serrano III led off the inning with consecutive walks. Candelaria was promptly driven home by Nolan, who singled to left, and then Harrison followed with a double off the right field wall, scoring Serrano and giving N.C. State a 7-1 lead, ending Proksch’s evening.
But once Jason White came in to relieve Proksch, Duke settled down, getting 6.2 innings of no-hit ball from White, Charlie Beilenson, and Fran Oschell III, who combined to allow just two baserunners – both on walks – in that span. The N.C. State bats, which had produced six hits and seven runs to that point, were silenced.
Duke battled back, getting a two-out, two-run single from Tyler Albright in the bottom of the fourth, and cut the Wolfpack lead to three in the sixth when Albright’s single to shallow left field scored Stone to make it 7-4.
In the top of the seventh, Alex Mooney reached on a one-out single and scored on Stone’s third hit of the game.
Duke’s Devin Obee came to the plate to pinch hit for Luke Storm and, with a two-strike count and a runner on first, he blasted a fastball from N.C. State’s down the left field line at Durham Bulls Athletic Park and deep into the night. Obee hopped down the line, channeling Carlton Fisk and waving the ball fair, only for it to be ruled foul.
The ruling held up after video review, and though Duke loaded the bases after Damon Lux was hit by a pitch and drew Alex Mooney an intentional walk, Andrew Fischer looked at a 3-2 fastball from N.C. State’s Dominic Fritton to end the Duke threat.
In the bottom of the ninth, MJ Metz turned on a fastball a bit early, and as the ball flew to right field, he sprinted to first and pointed to the sky with his right hand.
“Go! Go! Go!” he yelled, as his opposite field fly ball carried over the fence in right center field to draw Duke into a 7-7 tie with N.C. State in a game where they had trailed by six runs early.
After the homer by Metz, Tyler Albright reached on an error by N.C. State shortstop Kalae Harrison, and advanced to second on Cole Hebble’s infield hit. But that was all the offense Duke could muster.
Two innings later, leading once again after Cozart’s RBI single, N.C. State’s Logan Whitaker retired Duke in order, striking out Albright to end the game.
Duke will play Miami at 3 p.m. EDT Friday, while N.C. State will play Miami at 7 p.m. EDT Thursday, and another Wolfpack victory would earn them a berth in the semifinals.
North Carolina 11, Georgia Tech 5 – Tar Heels left fielder Patrick Alvarez went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs as North Carolina topped Georgia Tech in the afternoon game at the ACC Baseball Championship to snap a four-game losing skid.
North Carolina catcher Tomas Frick had an RBI single in the first inning and an RBI double in the eighth, the latter hit part of a four-run outburst that put the game completely out of reach for Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech starter Ben King surrendered two runs in the first, with Mac Horvath scoring on Frick’s single and then Frick scoring on Hunter Stokely’s double. Frick would scamper home again in the third on another double from Stokely.
The Yellow Jackets drew closer when Jack Rubenstein and Jadyn Jackson doubled to start the seventh, and both scored on a one-out double by Jake DeLeo.
Horvath launched a one-out eighth inning home run over the 32-foot high left field wall at Durham Bulls Athletic Park to give the Tar Heels a 9-4 lead. They’d add three more, as Frick would double to score Jackson Van Den Brake, Alvarez would drive in Stokely, and Johnny Castagnozzi’s single scored Alvarez.
Kristian Campbell stretched a two-out single in the top of the ninth into a double, and then scored when the next batter, DeLeo, singled, but it was too little, too late.
DeLeo was one of five Georgia Tech players with two hits and led the Yellow Jackets with three RBI.
Boston College 11, Virginia Tech 7 – Four Boston College hitters combined to lash five doubles and drive in 10 of the team’s 11 runs as the 10th-seeded Eagles soared over Virginia Tech in the ACC Baseball Championship’s opener Tuesday afternoon.
Second baseman Nick Wang went 2-for-3 with two doubles and five RBI to lead the Eagles, while Joe Vetrano had four RBI of his own on a single and a double.
Boston College center fielder Barry Walsh contributed a solo homer and robbed Virginia Tech’s Brody Donay of a two-run homer in the second inning, leaping to snag the ball out of the air, and made two more sensational running catches off fly balls hit by Donay.
BC’s Henry Leake went 2.1 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win, while Andrew Roman allowed one hit and one run over the final three innings, walking two and striking out one to close out the win.
Ranked 20th in the nation, sixth-seeded BC (35-17) will play third-seeded Clemson at 11 a.m. EDT Friday morning, with the winner advancing to Saturday’s semifinal. Virginia Tech, the 10th seed and 30-22 after the loss, finishes out tournament play against Clemson at 7 p.m. EDT.
Notebook – North Carolina was without 2022 ACC Baseball Championship MVP Vance Honeycutt, who missed his fifth consecutive game with a lower body injury. …A double in the first inning of the nightcap extended Duke catcher Alex Stone’s hitting streak to 29 games. … In the bottom of the fourth, Duke’s Luke Storm was struck on the right elbow by the 2-2 offering from Beilenson. He ran to first, but after a video review by the umpires, the pitch was ruled a strike when it was decided that Storm had leaned into the pitch to try to get to first the hard way. The rule was instituted by the NCAA in 2019.
Tomorrow at the ACC Baseball Championship
11 a.m. – (12) Pittsburgh vs. (8) Notre Dame (Pool A)
3 p.m. – (2) Virginia vs. (11) Georgia Tech (Pool B)
7 p.m. – (3) Clemson vs. (10) Virginia Tech (Pool C)
All games during pool play and both semifinals will be carried on the ACC Network. Each game will air live on Sirius XM ACC Radio channel 371. The ACC Championship Game will be carried live on ESPN2 Sunday at Noon EDT.