GREENSBORO, N.C. – Georgia Tech scored seven runs in the top of the seventh inning Saturday and hung a 17-5 loss on NC State in Game 9 of the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship. The game, which began on Friday night and was suspended after a half-inning, was shortened to seven innings by the tournament’s mercy rule.
Despite the one-sided defeat, NC State (37-21) is still in the hunt for the conference championship. If Clemson can defeat Georgia Tech (45-12) this afternoon, then the winner of this evening’s NC State-Virginia Tech game will advance to Sunday’s championship game.
“We’ll go back to the hotel and watch this afternoon’s game and pull for Clemson,” Wolfpack center fielder Kyle Wilson said. “But it’s not anything we can control. All we can control is getting ready for tonight’s game.”
The Wolfpack’s fate against Georgia Tech most likely was sealed when the decision was made to begin Friday night’s game despite the presence of severe thunderstorms just minutes from the stadium and closing in fast. NC State ace Jake Buchanan (7-5) pitched an inning and made 23 pitches, allowing two runs on two hits. Following Chase Burnette’s inning-ending grounder in the top of the first, the game was stopped, just 13 minutes after it began. Heavy rain with lightning and thunder commenced moments later, and the game was cancelled shortly after 10 p.m., ending any chance of Buchanan continuing.
The game resumed at 12:05, and NC State cut the Tech lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the inning. Kyle Wilson led off with a walk and Drew Poulk lined a double down the left-field line. Wilson scored on Andrew Ciencin’s RBI-groundout.
With Buchanan unavailable, senior lefthander John Lambert was forced into emergency action for NC State. After strolling through the top of the second inning 1-2-3, Lambert ran into trouble in the third, walking the first three hitters of the inning to load the bases. Two runs scored on an error to end Lambert’s day. Freshman righthander Ethan Ogburn came in and gave up a sacrifice fly to Cole Leonida and RBI-single to Burnette, giving the Yellow Jackets a 6-1 lead.
Ogburn settled in after that and retired eight of the next nine Georgia Tech hitters to restore order for the Wolfpack.
“I thought Ethan Ogburn was fantastic,” NC State head coach Elliott Avent said. “He threw really well and held them at bay, and that gave us a chance to get back in the game.”
Danny Canela led off the bottom of the fourth inning and walked, and Harold Riggins and Pratt Maynard followed with back-to-back home runs, cutting the lead to 6-4. Matt Bergquist hit a one-out triple into the right-field corner, and scored when Burnette’s throw back to the infield bounced over the third-base dugout.
That pulled the Wolfpack back to within a run at 6-5, but that was all. Ogburn tired in the top of the sixth and Georgia Tech put another four runs on the scoreboard. Jacob Esch and Jeff Rowland had RBI-singles with one away, and Matt Skole singled in a run with two down. Another run scored on an error.
Tech starter Brandon Cumpton (9-2) righted the ship following Bergquist’s triple and set down eight of the last 10 men he faced before handing the ball off to reliever Buck Farmer to start the bottom of the seventh. Cumpton allowed five runs, four earned, on six hits in six innings. He walked four and fanned four.
Georgia Tech put the game away in the top of the seventh. Jay Dantzler drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and a second came home on NC State’s fifth error of the game. Tony Plagman drove in a pair with a single, a run scored on a wild pitch, and Leonida drove one in with a sacrifice fly. Thomas Nichols was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in the final run.
“Despite the score, I was pleased with the way we played today, with how hard we played,” Avent said. “We may have gone after it too hard. But we played under difficult circumstances and I thought the kids handled it really well. We’ll go back to the hotel, wash this game off, have lunch and get ready to play Virginia Tech tonight.”