OMAHA, Neb. — During N.C. States 18-inning loss against North Carolina in the ACC tournament last month, the Wolfpack repeatedly had runners in scoring position with a chance to take the lead in extra innings. Time after time, they failed to drive those runners in.
N.C. States ability to capitalize on its scoring chances on Sunday might have been the most glaring difference between the Wolfpacks 8-1 victory against the Tar Heels in the College World Series, and that loss against UNC in Durham last month.
The Wolfpack scored six of its eight runs on Sunday with two outs. All five of the runs it scored against Kent Emanuel, UNCs right-handed starter who lasted 2 2/3 innings, came with two outs.
N.C. State coach Elliott Avent smiled when reminded of his teams two-out prowess.
That is a pounding in the head of these guys to have successful at-bats one pitch at a time, winning an at-bat, Avent said. Not trying to do too much.
The Wolfpack players might have tried to do too much in that 18-inning defeat last month. The moment might have overwhelmed them.
But N.C. State hitters thrived on Sunday in the most pressure-packed of situations. The complexion of the game might have been different had Tarran Senay not driven in Trea Turner with two outs in the first inning.
It might have remained closer for longer if Grant Clyde hadnt come through with a two-out single to left in the third inning. Clydes hit was the first of three consecutive that drove in runs. Moments later, Emanuel, the ACC Pitcher of the Year, was out of the game.
We try to stay energized until the third out, said Brett Williams, the N.C. State center fielder who was 2-for-4 with an RBI on Sunday. A lot of teams, when you get two outs and nobody on, theyll be ready to go out and the batter might not have his best approach at the plate.
And weve made that a huge point for us this year. Its always, youve got three outs for a reason.
During that 18-inning defeat in the ACC tournament last month, N.C. State was 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position, and 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position with two outs.
The Wolfpack essentially reversed those numbers on Sunday, when it was 6-for-15 with runners in scoring position and 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position and two outs. Given the dominance of Carlos Rodon, N.C. States sophomore left-hander, the runs provided a cushion that N.C. State didnt necessarily need.
Even so, Avents message about producing with two outs took hold in the Wolfpacks most important game of the season to this point.
We talked about it all year, we practiced it all year, Avent said. Sometimes it just takes things (time) to sink in a little bit more They didnt do some things in that 18-inning game, and we were able to get it done against Rice (in the Super Regional), and able to get it done today.
Carter: 919-829-8944 Twitter: @_andrewcarter