N.C. State’s baseball team talked a lot this season about putting last year’s painful NCAA tournament loss to TCU behind them.
Coastal Carolina twisted the knife and added to the Wolfpack’s NCAA frustrations on Tuesday with a ninth-inning to win 7-5 and take the Raleigh regional.
The Chanticleers (47-16) rallied for four runs in the ninth – in a game delayed three different times by rain, including for 14 hours with one out in the ninth – to advance to the Super Regional.
N.C. State (38-22) rallied to force a winner-take-all game – even with coach Elliott Avent sidelined after arguing balls and strikes – but couldn’t close out the Chanticleers.
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Forgetting last year’s epic collapse at TCU, ahead 8-1 with four outs to go in the regional final, was always the primary goal for this Wolfpack team. The Wolfpack came tantalizingly close but painfully short.
Seth Lancaster delivered a two-out, two-run single in the ninth off of N.C. State reliever Evan Brabrand — after Brabrand hit pinch-hitter Tyler Chadwick on an 0-2 count – to give the Chanticleers a 6-5 advantage. Billy Cooke followed with an RBI single to right to pad the lead.
The Wolfpack could not summon a rally in its half of the ninth, going down in order, to end its season in anguish again.
N.C. State was in control before the rain came late Monday and soaked the field for the ninth inning. The game was called at 12:04 a.m. with the bases loaded and one out.
Earlier in the game on Monday night, N.C. State tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the sixth when third baseman Evan Mendoza bounced to short.
Lancaster got the force out at second and threw the ball to first in time but Kevin Woodall couldn’t keep his foot on the bag to complete the inning-ending double play.
Junior first baseman Preston Palmeiro followed up the gift with a clean, two-out single to left to give the Wolfpack its first lead of the game. Mendoza added an RBI single in the eighth.
N.C. State played the game, and the last six innings of its 8-1 win earlier on Monday, without Avent. The veteran coach was thrown out by home plate umpire Scott Higgins and when he came out to protest the call, which led to a meaningless walk, in the third inning of the first game on Monday.
Avent, who came out and spun around one umpire to get to Higgins, wound up with a two-game suspension for his antics.
N.C. State got an incredible relief effort from senior Will Gilbert, who worked a career-long eight innings, to force the regional title game.
The glove work of shortstop Joe Dunand and Mendoza at third saved the Wolfpack in the second game after Coastal Carolina built a 3-2 lead.
Coastal Carolina jumped on starter Brian Brown, who was pitching on two days rest, for a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a two-run home run from Paez.
N.C. State got one run back in the bottom of the second with an RBI single by catcher Andrew Knizner.
A swinging bunt single by catcher Matt Beaird plated Lancaster in the top of the fourth to stretch Coastal Carolina’s lead back to 3-1.
The Wolfpack answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth after back-to-back doubles by Chance Shepard and Josh McLain.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio