N.C. State’s game with Miami on Thursday night could not help them in the ACC tournament and it might wind up hurting its NCAA tournament position.
Third baseman Edgar Michelangeli hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning to give the top-seeded Hurricanes an 8-7 comeback win.
Florida State’s 6-1 win over Georgia Tech earlier on Thursday ended any chance the Wolfpack had of winning Pool A and reaching the championship game.
But N.C. State (34-20) needed to bolster its NCAA tournament resume. With a No. 10 ranking in the RPI before the Miami game, and 13 wins over teams in the RPI’s top 25, the Wolfpack could have helped its cause to be one of the 16 regional hosts in the NCAA tournament next week.
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“I think we’re hosting anyway but every game you win helps that,” N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said.
Senior Chance Shepard gave N.C. State every opportunity to win the game. Shepard drove in four runs, including two on a home run in the eighth inning, to give the Wolfpack a 7-5 lead.
But Miami (45-10) struck back in the top of the ninth with a walk and a single to set up Michelangeli’s game-deciding shot.
N.C. State has lost nine of its past 12 games heading into the last scheduled game of pool play on Friday against Georgia Tech.
“It has been a tough end-of-the-year schedule and being short a couple of players has made it even tougher,” Avent said.
N.C. State has been short pitching, notably starter Ryan Williamson, who won’t throw here in order to rest for the NCAA tournament.
The Wolfpack fell behind 2-0 in the third inning but charged ahead in the fourth with five runs. First baseman Preston Palmeiro led off the inning with a double and then it was small ball from there for the Wolfpack.
Two of N.C. State’s seven hits in the inning were clean bunts, there were two other singles sandwiched around a two-run double by Shepard.
In a statistical oddity, Miami had only given up 12 runs in 53 games in the fourth inning before Thursday’s game.
The Hurricanes, who lost in pool play last year to N.C. State in extra innings, got two runs back in the fifth inning with three singles, a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch.
Miami bunted in a run in the eighth to tie the game at 5. After a leadoff single by Andrew Knizner in the eighth, Shepard launched a 419-foot shot to the Tobacco Road Sports Cafe porch in left center.
Home plate umpire Barry Chambers reprimanded Shepard after he took a second or two to admire the shot but Shepard was just soaking in what turned out to be a brief glimmer of hope for the Wolfpack.
Since N.C. State lost to Florida State on Wednesday, it can’t win a tiebreaker over the Seminoles, who can finish no worse than 2-1 in pool play.
The Wolfpack will still play Georgia Tech at 7 p.m. Friday.
“Obviously tonight was a tough loss but I don’t think anything changes,” said Palmeiro, who was 2 for 5. “Our goal is still to go play in a regional, go win a regional, advance from there and do some damage.”