N.C. State sets the stage for pivotal clash with UNC in ACC tourney

BY foxsports • May 24, 2013

DURHAM, N.C. – North Carolina State (44-13) beat Miami (35-23)
7-1 on Friday, ensuring that the Wolfpack and North Carolina’s game on
Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. will decide who advances to the ACC
championship game.

It’s crazy to think that this same N.C. State
team started out the season 19-10, with losses to UNC-Greensboro and
Elon. That was their record as of March 31. But since the start of
April, N.C. State is 25-3.

When a team is playing that well,
there’s always at least a little luck involved, and there was on Friday
too. N.C. State scored its first five runs with two outs, including four
in the second inning, and none of their hits in the second got out of
the infield. Miami made some mistakes, including an error, in that
frame.

"Even though we didn’t get a ball out of the infield and
got four runs, it wasn’t like luck," N.C. State head coach Elliott Avent
said. “If you look at the scouting report for N.C. State, at the top of
the scouting report, it’s going to say 'speed.' And speed is there
every day.... that’s what we do. It’s tough for other teams to try to
contain."

But N.C. State was able to advance on the base paths
and take advantage of those mistakes because of its speed, and they’re
certainly not going to apologize for that.

Miami head coach Jim
Morris said that this is probably the best N.C. State team he’s seen
since he’s been at Miami (20-plus years). They have talent, yes. But
seemingly anyone on the roster can make plays in difficult situations.
The first two runs of the decisive second inning were driven in by No.s 7
and 8 in the N.C. State batting order.

“The first five runs
were with two outs, and you’ve got to do things like that to have the
number of wins that they’ve had over the year,” Morris said. “You’ve got
to have a little bit of luck ... We’ve got to some way figure out how
to make that play and get some two-out hits.”

Or any hits,
really, would be fine with Morris. Miami is not a program used to losing
a lot of games. The Hurricanes aren’t bad by any stretch of the
imagination, but they are the No. 8 seed in the tournament and have
struggled to get hits.

It’s got their head coach concerned that making the NCAA tournament isn’t necessarily a sure thing.

"All
kinds of rumors, every one of them has us going somewhere as a No. 2
seed,” Morris said. "That shows the strength of this league. So
hopefully all those people that are saying that are right."

The
Wolfpack, meanwhile, know they're in the tournament. The only question
now is if they can somehow sneak their way into a national seed. It’s
not likely, but it’s possible. At the very least, a good end to the ACC
tournament would mean positive momentum for the NCAA tournament.

"(An
ACC title) would mean a lot of confidence going into the regional. It
would mean a lot of different things, maybe even a national seed," N.C.
State third baseman Trea Turner said. 'We don’t want to get too far
ahead, but it’s there and we know about it. You can’t deny that. Like
(Elliott Avent) said, we’re trying to get better every game but it would
also help a lot of things."

Now, it has a chance to win its
third and somewhat decisive game against North Carolina after Game 3 of
the series earlier this year was rained out. But that’s not the game
against North Carolina that this team remembers the most.

Last
year, N.C. State faced the Tar Heels in the ACC tournament (also on a
Saturday night in a packed stadium) for a berth in the ACC championship
game. Except then, North Carolina had already been eliminated -- it
could only play spoiler to its archrival. And the Tar Heels did, beating
N.C. State 4-0 in 12 innings.

"We played (North Carolina) last
year to go to the championship and we fell a little short," Turner said.
"We still have that in our minds this year. ... I didn’t play very
well, so I remember a lot of things from (last year’s) game. But yeah,
it was even sourer losing how we did. We definitely know that and we
hopefully can turn that around next year.

'We definitely wanted a
crack at them that third game (this year) because we think we can hang
with them. Obviously, they’re a very, very good team and they’ve proven
that all year. It’s going to be tough, even though (Rodon) is on the
bump it’s definitely going to be tough. It’s going be exciting to see
that matchup."


share story