NC State rallies past Vanderbilt to win regional
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- After blowing two leads in regional games against Vanderbilt, North Carolina State put on its own comeback to clinch a trip to the super regionals.
Tarran Senay hit a three-run homer in the eighth and a two-run single in the ninth that helped the Wolfpack rally to beat Vanderbilt 9-7 for the Raleigh Regional championship Monday night.
Top-seeded N.C. State (43-18) trailed 7-3 after five innings, but rallied behind a player who hadn't tallied a hit in the regionals before Monday night. Now Elliott Avent's program will head to the super regionals for the first time since 2008 and will face No. 1 national seed Florida.
"If you don't believe in yourselves all the way through, no matter how it looks, then it's never going to happen," Avent said. "That's what this team's been all about."
Senay, a junior, was 0 for 3 in the regionals and came in batting .213. But after entering the game in the seventh inning, Senay came up to bat in the eighth with one out and smacked a 3-2 pitch from Philip Pfeifer over the right field wall to bring the Wolfpack within a run.
An inning later, he came through again, knocking a two-run single off Will Clinard (7-3) to right-center that gave N.C. State an 8-7 lead.
"This team never gives up," Senay said. "It's so fun to play for. I'm at a loss for words, but luckily, my teammates ... they put me in the opportunity to do it."
Trea Turner added an RBI single to push the lead to 9-7, which was enough for N.C. State reliever Ryan Wilkins (5-2) to earn the win. Wilkins allowed three hits and struck out six on 92 pitches in 4 2-3 scoreless innings, including the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory.
It was a reversal from the first two meetings between the teams in the regional. Vanderbilt rallied from a five-run deficit for a 9-8 win on a walk-off single Saturday night, then rallied from a 5-1 deficit in Sunday's game before falling 6-5.
"It was three quality ballgames," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. "If you're sitting from a fan's standpoint, you got your money's worth, and obviously at home, you got to see your team win the final game."
N.C. State designated hitter Ryan Mathews was named the regional's most outstanding player.
Connor Castellano drove in three runs for the second-seeded Commodores (35-28), who scored five runs in the third inning to take control. Castellano had a two-run double in the inning, while Mike Yastrzemski (four hits) and Conrad Gregor each added RBI singles.