Miami 12, N.C. State 5

Wolfpack loses 12-5 to Miami in ninth straight ACC loss

jgiglio@newsobserver.comMarch 30, 2014 

— N.C. State started the season talking about a return trip to Omaha, Neb. After a third straight ACC sweep, the Wolfpack might not even make it to Greensboro.

Zack Collins hit two home runs and drove in six runs to lead Miami to a 12-5 win against the Wolfpack on Sunday and complete a three-game sweep.

N.C. State (15-11, 3-9) has lost nine straight ACC games for the first time since 2002 and has put itself in danger of missing the conference tournament, which will be at the end of May in Greensboro.

N.C. State made the College World Series last June in Omaha. With the main stars back from that team, the Wolfack openly talked about a return trip to the CWS and started the season ranked among the top 10.

The Wolfpack ended Sunday in 12th place in the ACC, out of 14 teams. The top-10 teams will make the conference tournament.

“You never even think about not making the ACC tournament, which is kind of crazy now that we have to battle back here and pick it up just to get in there,” junior center fielder Jake Fincher said.

Collins was hitless in first eight at-bats of the series, and entered the game hitting .203, but he finished Sunday with three hits, two home runs and six RBIs. The designated hitter’s three-run homer in the eighth broke the game open for the Hurricanes (17-12, 8-4).

Miami led 4-0 through 4 1/2 innings with three RBIs from Collins. Collins had an RBI single in the third and a solo home run in the fifth. The way N.C. State has scored runs, or more accurately, hasn’t scored runs, the four-run lead seemed pretty safe.

But the Wolfpack, which has scored two runs or fewer in seven ACC games, put together three runs in the bottom of the fifth and then took the lead in the sixth.

N.C. State first baseman Jake Armstrong had an RBI double in the fifth and then scored on a throwing error by Miami starter Bryan Radziewski on a sacrifice bunt by Fincher. Shortstop Trea Turner also drove in a run on a fielder’s choice.

The Wolfpack took a 5-4 lead in the sixth with home runs from Armstrong and freshman third baseman Andrew Knizner. Both shots went over the left-field fence and both were off Radziewski.

But Miami tied the score in the top seventh and then scored seven runs in the final two innings.

In 2010, North Carolina missed the ACC tournament and still made the NCAA tournament, so there’s a precedent there for the Wolfpack. Miami, at 14-16, was the last team to get into the ACC tournament last year, but there are two more spots in the conference tournament this year.

Coach Elliott Avent said the Wolfpack doesn’t have the luxury to worry about the ACC tournament, or its big-picture goals of the CWS.

“It’s not about the big picture. It’s about the small picture,” Avent said. “Don’t try to do too much. I think we are trying to do too much.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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