NC State pulls out dramatic win in ACC tournament
It’s possible N.C. State outfielder Brock Deatherage has the coolest name in college baseball.
Even Deatherage has fun with it, saying, “People always tell me I should be in some heavy metal band or I should be a WWE fighter.”
Deatherage, a sophomore from Burlington, said opposing fans often call him “Death-rage,” dropping the “e” in the middle of the name. Even Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent, Deatherage said, often misspells the name when filling out the Pack’s lineup card for games.
Misspelled or not, Avent has him in the lineup. Deatherage (pronounced DEATH-er-rige) has started all 55 games this season and is hitting .320, and it was his two-run homer in the 12th inning Friday that was the difference as the Pack rallied for a 7-5 victory over Georgia Tech in ACC Championship pool play in Durham.
Had Yellow Jackets center fielder Ryan Peurifoy not dropped a short fly ball in the ninth, Deatherage would not have gotten his chance and the Pack would not have won. But Peurifoy did drop it — a startling turn of events.
People always tell me I should be in some heavy metal band or I should be a WWE fighter.
“It never crosses your mind that he’s going to drop the ball,” Deatherage said. “It’s a routine play. When the ball drops you’re like ‘wow.’ It’s like a new life kicked back into us. We woke back up. … We knew we had a shot. We had something fall our way and we took advantage of it.”
Told it was a good time of the year to have good fortune, Deatherage smiled, saying, “Most definitely. We didn’t have the ball fall our way these last couple of weeks and it was good to see something fall our way.”
The Pack (35-20) may have been chosen to host an NCAA regional had it not beaten Georgia Tech. Avent thought so. But finishing 1-2 in ACC Championship pool play was a lot more palatable for the Pack than going 0-3.
The Wolfpack opens play Friday at 7 p.m. in the NCAA Raleigh Regional against fourth-seeded Navy (42-14-1), the Patriot League champion. While there have been concerns about the Pack’s starting pitching, about injuries, N.C. State does not lack for hitters.
The Pack is batting .300 as a team, with third baseman Evan Mendoza leading the way at .351. First baseman Preston Palmeiro is hitting .327, and leads the team in runs (51), hits (72), RBIs (48) and total bases (116).
Chance Shepard has a team-best 13 homers and the senior’s bat came to life in Durham. He homered against Miami and Georgia Tech, and nearly had another against Florida State.
“They say we played the No. 2 toughest schedule in the country,” Shepard said. “We played a lot of tough teams down the stretch. I think we’re ready to go and as prepared as we can possibly be.”
Deatherage’s homer against Georgia Tech was his fifth of the season. The left-handed hitter showed opposite-field power, taking an outside fastball over the 32-foot-high left-field fence at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Deatherage was a two-sport star at Western Alamance High. A safety on the football team with 4.26-second speed over 40 yards, he said he was recruited by number of schools — including East Carolina — to play football and baseball.
Deatherage had an early favorite: North Carolina. He attended the Tar Heels baseball camps and made a commitment to UNC in July 2012.
Deatherage said he later changed his mind, and de-commited from UNC, when he began to consider an academic major. He signed with N.C. State and said he’s in the agricultural business management program.
“It has worked out perfectly,” he said.
Deatherage, who wears No. 13, doesn’t know any of the ancestry about his name, saying, “I think there’s a little German in there.”
But he agreed “Deatherage” would make for, say, a good action figure.
“A video-game villain, dressed in black,” Deatherage said, smiling again.