Andrew Knizner and Brett Kinneman hit back-to-back homers, three hours and nine minutes apart thanks to a rain delay, as part of a four-homer fifth inning to stake NC State to an 8-0 lead over Navy. The Midshipmen, however, refused to go quietly and allow me to go to bed, plating five in the seventh to make things interesting. Chance Shepard answered with a grand slam in the bottom of the frame and the Pack went on to win 13-8 in a game that concluded just a few minutes shy of 2 a.m.
The Pack pounded out 17 hits with every starter collecting at least one. Knizner had three hits, scored twice, and drove in three; Brock Deatherage had three hits, a stolen base, and scored twice; and Evan Mendoza had three hits and drew a walk.
Deatherage led off the fourth with a double and scored the game's first run when Andrew Knizner apparently missed a bunt sign (kidding, probably) and singled up the middle.
Brian Brown flirted with danger in every inning and got a quick hook after putting two on with one out in the fifth. Austin Staley relieved him and induced an inning-ending double play, the third turned by the Pack in the game. Brown allowed four hits, walked and hit a pair of batters and only fanned one, but he didn't allow a run.
The momentum of that inning-ending twin killing and a misplay started the run barrage in the bottom of the fifth. Stephen Pitarra led off with a lost-in-the-lights double and Preston Palmeiro followed an out later with the first of four long balls in the inning. Knizner's homer, his first since March 22nd, scored Joe Dunand. Kinneman followed (many, many hours later) with the third of the inning, and, after a Shepard walk, Josh McLain's two-run bomb gave the Pack what seemed like a comfortable margin at 8-0.
Staley, who surprisingly (questionably?) came back after the long delay, showed no ill-effects in the sixth with State's first 1-2-3 inning of the ballgame, but he came apart a bit in the seventh, giving up a leadoff double, throwing a wild pitch, and issuing a four-pitch walk. He did get a strikeout before leaving it up to Chris Williams to get out of it, and get out of it Williams did not. The senior righty allowed three hits and a walk, with the only out he recorded scoring a run via a sacrifice fly. Evan Brabrand finally got out of the inning but not before allowing the first batter he faced to single in a pair to make it 8-5.
Shepard's granny and Dunand's RBI single got all five runs back in the bottom of the frame and, after a bout of wildness from Brabrand opened the door to another Navy rally, Travis Orwig finally put this wild one to bed. The senior lefty got the last six outs, four by strikeout.
With Mids' ace Luke Gillingham, he of the 1.96 and 1.19 ERAs the last two seasons, and Brown on the mound, one probably did not envision 21 runs in this game. Navy came in with the nation's fourth best team ERA, and the 13 runs are the most it has allowed all season (10 being the previous high). Gillingham was rocked; he surrendered eight hits, including four for extra bases, walked two, and was tagged for five runs in 4.2 innings pitched.
The Mids will face Saint Mary's, 5-2 losers to Coastal Carolina, in an elimination game at 1 p.m. The Pack will get the Chanticleers at 6 p.m. The winner of that will be just one more win from a super regional. Note that the game times are moved up a bit due to the expectation for more evening weather hijinks. State and Coastal met way back on February 20th in Conway, with the good guys coming out on top in a 13-10 slugfest.
The ACC went 8-2 on the tournament's opening day, with Duke and Georgia Tech suffering the only setbacks. The most notable score was probably Clemson's two-touchdown win (24-10) over Western Carolina. The SEC was 4-2 but two hosts, South Carolina and Ole Miss, went down to #4 seeds.