Just when you think you’ve seen it all, N.C. State finds another way to put on a classic baseball game.
The Wolfpack tied the game with an inconceivable two-out rally in the ninth inning and then won it in the 12th.
Brock Deatherage’s two-run home run gave N.C. State a 7-5 win Friday night in the ACC tournament.
“It’s nice to get a win because I think it does let you know who you are,” Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
N.C. State (35-20) has been a program recently with a flair for redefining the dramatic in the postseason.
Last season ended after it squandered a 7-run lead and lost in 10 innings at Texas Christian in the NCAA tournament.
The Wolfpack won an ACC tournament game here in Durham last year with a “Little League walk-off home run” against Miami in the 12th inning.
Both classics were at warp speed compared to the 18-inning ACC tournament loss to North Carolina in 2013 and a 17-inning win over Rice to clinch a spot in the College World Series the same year.
N.C. State added another classic chapter on Friday after an incredible sequence in the ninth inning.
With a 5-3 lead, and N.C. State down to its last out, Georgia Tech reliever Matthew Gorst walked Chance Shepard.
Georgia Tech (36-23), which had won 94 straight games when leading after eight innings, then seemingly put the game away when Shane Shepard popped up to center field.
Georgia Tech’s Ryan Peurifoy got under then ball, and had both hands ready to secure a routine pop fly, when the ball bounced off the heel of his glove.
“I bet he could have that same play a thousand times and he’ll catch the ball a thousand times,” Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said.
Storm Edwards, who pinch ran for Chance Shepard, advanced to third base on the error and Shane Shepard reached second base.
“It was kind of a lucky play but it’s a part of the game and a part of postseason baseball,” N.C. State catcher Andrew Knizner said. “You need a little luck on your side. It was nice to get the ball to bounce our way, it hasn’t bounced our way in a while.”
The error was luck but second baseman Stephen Pitarra followed it up with a clutch two-run single off of Gorst, who worked five innings in extended relief, to tie the game at 5.
Friday’s drama made Thursday’s riveting finish with Miami seem pedestrian by comparison. N.C. State got a two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning in Thursday’s loss, only to have Miami come back with a three-run shot in the bottom of the inning to win it.
N.C. State appeared to be in good shape to take a lead in the top of the 10th with bases loaded and one out when left fielder Brett Kinneman dribbled a grounder to first base. Georgia Tech’s Tristin English came up firing, wide and to the right of home plate, but catcher Joey Bart made an incredible scoop, while keeping one foot on home plate, to get the force out.
It was Georgia Tech’s turn to load the bases in the 11th but Will Gilbert struck out Peurifoy and then got shortstop Connor Justus to bounce out to second base.
The Wolfpack needed a pick-me-up after difficult losses to Florida State and Miami in pool play. Deatherage gave them one when he turned on a pitch from Burton Dulaney.
Dulaney threw Deatherage four straight changeups, Deatherage said.
“He threw me a fastball and it was perfect timing,” Deatherage said.
It was for the Wolfpack who avoided an 0-3 record and now gets a chance to enter the NCAA tournament next week on a positive note.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio