DURHAM — On a night where N.C. State and Duke combined for four errors, three unearned runs and three runs scored on wild pitches, it seemed fitting that the final run of the night would come on a wild pitch that scored Bryan Adametz in the top of the 10th inning to win it Friday night for the Wolfpack, 7-6, at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The Wolfpack (41-13 overall, 18-10 ACC) needed the win to stay in contention for the Atlantic Division, but still needs a split in the final two games of the series between Florida State and Clemson. The Seminoles beat the Tigers 2-1 in the first game on Friday night.
For N.C. State to win the division, the Wolfpack must beat Duke again on Saturday combined with a Clemson win over Florida State.
Ive been so proud of this team all year, N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said. Ive been proud of so many teams, but I dont know if Ive ever been more proud of a team than this team. All of the stuff that they have overcome and they just keep battling.
Carlos Rodon was anything but perfect, but N.C. States offense picked up last years ACC Pitcher of the Year to earn the sophomore his eighth win of the season.
While the offense is normally carried by the top three hitters, it was the bottom of the lineup that produced most of the runs.
Along with scoring the game-winning run, Adametz finished the night 3-for-5, while Jake Armstrong went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs.
Its always exciting to be the winning run because I know what it means for the team, Adametz said. Were playing the best ball we can right now and trying to come out with a W and trying not to worry about the pressure.
After getting roughed up in the third inning for four runs two of which came on wild pitches Rodon settled in, giving up just two runs in the next six innings and setting the stage for a dramatic comeback.
The left-hander finished with four earned runs, six hits and 15 strikeouts just one off his career high of 16 over nine innings. After Adametzs run in the 10th inning, Rodon was pulled in favor of the tandem of shut down relievers Chris Overman and Grant Sasser, with Sasser picking up his seventh save of the season.
That was just a weird outing, Rodon said with a smile. Late in the game I picked it up and luckily the offense stepped up for me. My fastball just wasnt there early and I found it late and they started chasing the slider.
When asked whether he wanted to come back in the 10th to close it out after throwing 128 pitches, Rodon replied, I trust the guys behind me to get it done. I dont really think it would have worked out if I tried.
While the Wolfpack needs another win along with one for Clemson over Florid a State, its situation can best be summed up by Grant Clyde, whose diving catch in the stands down the third base line was the final out of the game.
That was stressful, Clyde said. Weve talked about it off and on knowing that we need help to win our side of the division. But we knew tonight that if we lost no one could help us.
As for Avent, tomorrow is yet another big game for N.C. State with a noon start time against the Blue Devils for the final game of the regular season.
Every game is big from here on out, Avent said.
Smith: 919-829-4841; @RCorySmith