Commentary

Tudor: Senay’s swings put Wolfpack in Super spot

ctudor@newsobserver.comJune 4, 2012 

— At the end of a long, tense NCAA Raleigh Regional, the bats that had doubled as N.C. State’s magic wands hit the jackpot again.

Thanks to unlikely hero Tarran Senay, the Wolfpack swept past Vanderbilt 9-7 in Monday’s title game at Doak Field and now will go to Florida this weekend for a Super Regional.

After having scored 48 runs on 59 hits in four previous games, the Wolfpack was checked briefly by Vanderbilt reliever Tyler Beede in the middle innings.

But in the eighth and ninth innings, the big Wolfpack bats took over again with three runs in each inning.

Senay, a left-handed batting junior reserve from South Park, Pa., smashed a three-run homer and then had a two-run single to do in the SEC’s Commodores (35-28).

Senay’s big finish allowed the Wolfpack to advance even though its hottest hitter, senior Ryan Mathews, was limited to a single in five at-bats, and Chris Diaz, who was batting .356, to one hit. Mathews was named the regional’s most outstanding player.

But as Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent said several times during the tournament, the team’s hitters were making their best swings of the season.

Senay took a modest .217 batting average into the game.

That hitting allowed N.C. State (43-18) to prevail even though pitching ace Carlos Rodon had a so-so regional by his standards.

Vandy got a big offensive game from Mike Yastrzemski.

With a home run, two singles, two RBIs and two stolen bases in first three at-bats, young Yaz helped Vanderbilt take a 7-3 lead into the eighth.

But N.C. State had too much spunk and way too much bat smack.

For the ACC, the Wolfpack’s win was a rare piece of good news this postseason.

North Carolina was ousted by St. John’s on Sunday in the Chapel Hill Regional.

ACC tournament winner Georgia Tech was blasted by Florida.

Virginia, playing at home, got stopped by Appalachian State and Oklahoma.

Clemson dropped two at rival South Carolina.

Miami was outscored 22-4 in successive games against Stony Brook and Missouri State.

Other than the Wolfpack, only Florida State advanced among ACC teams.

At Florida, the Wolfpack will be an underdog.

The Gators (45-18) are the No. 1 seed nationally, but did fall twice to Vandy (2-1 and 8-6) during the SEC tournament at Hoover, Ala., in late May. During the regular season, Florida swept Vandy in a three-game, mid-March series in Gainesville.

Then again, the odds might not matter a great deal if the Wolfpack can extend this hot hitting streak.

Tudor: 919-829-8946

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