April 29, 2007

UNC/NC STATE: Tar Heels Take the Series

UNC has won the deciding game of the series, 7-5.

In the bottom of the ninth, Pat Ferguson led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Wade Moore. Marcus Jones struck out on a check swing on which first base umpire Tony Gisondi ruled that he went around (care to guess how that was received by the home crowd?). Reid Fronk showed he has more than just a hot bat when he made a beautiful diving catch in LF to rob Dallas Poulk of a base hit. Andrew Carignan secured his 10th save by striking out Joe Florio to end the game.

UNC remains a half game behind ACC Coastal Division leader Virginia, which swept Maryland this weekend.

UNC/NC STATE: Bottom of the Ninth

Carignan, who has allowed only two earned runs in 32+ innings this year, struck out Proskopf to end the eighth.

UNC wasted singles by Federowicz and Horton in the ninth when Federowicz was caught stealing and Chad Flack hit into a double play.

One last chance for NC State, with the bottom of the order due up.

It's good to see 3B Drew Martin back in the game after being injured last night. He has come in as a defensive replacement in the ninth.

As an aside, all of the UNC players and coaches had their heads shaved a few weeks back. Each shaved head raised $100 for children with cancer through donations from the public.

UNC/NC STATE:

Reid Fronk is on fire. He nailed a two run HR to left field off reliever Clayton Shunick to put UNC back on top 7-5. It seemed to get help from a right to left wind. That is Fronk's second HR of the day and third in the last two games. That equals his HR output for the year prior to last night and ties him for the team lead (6) with Seth Williams and Dustin Ackley and is his second career multi-homer game.

Rob Wooten was the 4th pitcher of the day for UNC and struck out the first two he saw before allowing a bloop single by Ryan Pond. UNC closer Andrew Carignan is now on to try to pick up his 11th save of the year. He'll have to face NC State's leading HR hitter, Mike Proskopf, who already has one today.

UNC/NC STATE: Even at 5 After Seven Innings; No Hat Trick

Following Fronk's homerun, UNC got Dustin Ackley on by an error and Tim Federowicz on by a single when he hit a high pop-up that got caught in the swirling winds so that 1B Pat Ferguson couldn't make the catch. Josh Horton hit his third deep shot of the game to left center, and Marcus Jones hauled it in near the wall once again. Chad Flack then hit into a force play to end the top of the eighth.

Danford got Poulk, Florio, and Mangum in order in the Wolfpack seventh so it's still deadlocked. Andrew Taylor is in in relief for NC State. He failed to retire any of the four batters he faced last night but has gotten both hitters he's seen so far today.

Today's attendance was just announced at 2,683. That is the smallest of the series, but the 3 game total attendance of 8,774 sets a stadium series record.

UNC/NC STATE: Pack Back in Charge- Briefly

Luke Putkonen was pulled in the sixth with nobody out after giving up a leadoff double to Caleb Mangum, and Rob Catapano (who got the win last night while throwing only two pitches) walked the only batter he faced. Matt Danford then came on for his 22nd appearance of the year and promptly gave up a run scoring single to Ramon Corona to tie the game at four apiece. Danford then balked in the go ahead run (Tommy Foschi) when he threw to 3B Chad Flack, who wasn't on the bag. Danford escaped further damage by getting Pat Ferguson to take a third strike and inducing Marcus Jones to bounce into a force play to end the inning.

Reid Fronk just led off the 7th with a HR to right center field to tie it back up at 5-5. Fronk hit a HR last night on the second pitch of the game.

Unlike last night, when there were 21 total strikeouts, today we had only four after six innings. Alex White had ten K's himself after six innings last night.

UNC/NC STATE: Heels Grab the Lead

UNC has regained the lead. Tim Federowicz led off the sixth with a single. Josh Horton, who hit a towering homer to RF in the ninth last night, was next up and nearly got drilled in the head by a pitch that got away from Jimmy Gillheeney. To his credit, Horton didn't seem to get angered and in fact was laughing with NC State catcher Caleb Mangum and home plate umpire David Savage. His bat did the talking on the very next pitch when he drilled a two run HR just inside the RF foul pole to give UNC a 4-3 lead. Gillheeney has given way to Jeff Stallings on the mound.

The NC State fans do the familiar "Left-Right-Left-Right" chant whenever an opposing batter strikes out and makes the walk of shame back to the dugout.

UNC/NC STATE: Wolfpack Hold Serve

NC State is hanging onto a 3-2 lead after five innings.

UNC wasted a single by Seth Williams in the 5th and couldn't score when Reid Fronk and Dustin Ackley hit flyouts to left field.

NC State then got a lead off single by Marcus Jones, who was bunted over to second by Dallas Poulk. Leadoff hitter Joe Florio then hit a line drive that was snared by SS Josh Horton, who outraced Jones to second base and doubled him up to end the inning.

UNC/NC STATE: Pack Breaks Through

The Wolfpack are on the board. Marcus Jones had a one out, infield single on a close play at first. Following a double to left center by Dallas Poulk, Jones scored on a ground out to first by Joe Florio.

UNC went scoreless in the fourth, so it's 2-1 Carolina. Gillheeney has retired 11 of the last 13 Tar Heels. Putkonen has also pitched well for UNC, allowing only 2 hits thus far. He is a kind of a cross physically between last year's two UNC pitching studs, Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard. He is nearly as tall as Miller but is a righthander built more like Bard.

Nice crowd again today, SRO along the concourse, but not 4 and 5 deep like last night. The attendance record should be intact.

Just as I wrote the above, Jeremy Pond doubled and Mike Roskopf homered off the scoreboard in left center to give NC State a 3-2 lead in the fourth.

UNC/NC SAE: Good Coaching Move

So far UNC coach Mike Fox's decision to play Garrett Gore has paid off. Gore hit a home run to left field from the number 9 spot in the top of the second to give the Tar Heels a 2-0 lead. He then started a 4-6-3 double play to end the Wolfpack half of the second inning. UNC went down in order in the third so we stand pat at 2-0 in the bottom of the third.

Reading Denis Brown's blog from Miami has my mouth watering for an Omaha Express shake. The Going Yard guys had a feature about those recently. Now all that food talk has me thinking about burgers and shakes at Zesto's, Omaha steak burgers, and thick whiskey sirloins at The Drover in Omaha. June can't get here soon enough.

UNC/NC STATE: Tempers Flaring Again Early

But this time it's between the red and navy blue, rather than Carolina blue. UNC has taken a 1-0 lead in the first on a walk by Reid Fronk and single by freshman stud Dustin Ackley. NC State coach Elliott Avent was upset at a 2-2 call to Ackley that apparently just missed the strike zone. He made his displeasure with home plate umpire David Savage known, and after Ackley's RBI base hit came out and argued with Savage, drawing an early written warning. The home fans are mockingly cheering every called strike now.

NC State escaped further damage after Tim Federowicz singled when Josh Horton drove a deep drive to left center that Marcus Jones caught against the wall. Chad Flack then grounded out to end the UNC first inning.

In the crowd, a bare-chested NC State student made a nice catch of a foul ball down the left field line. Don't worry- it was a guy.

UNC/NC STATE: Attendance Hat Trick?

Under mostly sunny skies in Raleigh with the temperature around 80, visiting UNC will take on NC State in the deciding game of this ACC series. The Wolfpack ran away with game one 11-1, and the Tar Heels used a six run seventh inning last night to win 9-3 and even the series. Unlike Eric Sorenson's painful-sounding 2 1/2 hour drive to Riverside yesterday, I had an uneventful twenty minute drive here and didn't have to ride my brakes the whole time.

Stadium attendance records have been set each of the last two nights. It's filling up fast twenty minutes before the first pitch, but I'm not sure we'll top last night's crowd of 3,109.

UNC will throw Luke Putkonen (6-1, 3.78), while NC State will go with Jimmy Gillheeney (3-2, 4.43). Lineup changes for today for UNC: Tim Federowicz (C) and Benji Johnson (DH) are swapping positions, and Garrett Gore is replacing Kyle Seager second base. For NC State: Joe Florio is at third base in place of Drew Martin, who was injured last night in the ninth inning when he ran into the rolled up tarp while snaring a pop foul. Mike Roskopf replaces Vince Gutierrez as the DH.

April 28, 2007

UNC/NC STATE: Final in Raleigh

UNC wins it 9-3.
Rob Catapano got his first win of the year after facing just one batter. Andrew Carignan picked up his 10th save. Eryk McConnell takes the loss for NC State.

I'll be back for the rubber game tomorrow afternoon.

Now downstairs to hear what the coaches have to say about the fracas earlier in the game.

UNC/NC STATE: 8-3 Heading to the Ninth

UNC wound up with 6 runs in the 8th, the last coming on a bases loaded fielder's choice by Seth Williams. Closer Andrew Carignan held the Wolfpack scoreless in the bottom of the inning, so it's still UNC by five in the top of the ninth. Joey Cutler is the sixth NC State pitcher of the evening.

Although a few fans have left the grass berm along the left field line, it's still a packed house with standing room only. Tomorrow's game should be full as well.

Check that score- Josh Horton blasted a home run high up in the trees in RF to make it 9-3. NCSU 3B made a great catch of a foul ball and the ran into the tarp against the wall. He walked off under his own power but had to leave the game, being replaced by Joe Florio.

UNC/NC STATE: Heels Busting Out

Seth Williams led off the UNC eighth with a single and scored the tying run on a double by freshman of the year candidate, Dustin Ackley (his second double of the night). Ackley is running away with the team lead in hitting and RBI (.449, 51 RBS coming into the game) and is tied for the team lead with six home runs.

Ackley scored on a single to right center by Tim Federowicz to give UNC a 4-3 lead. Reliever Eryk McConnell got knocked out of a game for the first time all year when all 3 batters he faced got hits, and was replaced by lefty Andrew Taylor. UNC added its fifth run when Kyle Seager laid down a sacrifice bunt and 3B Drew Martin threw wildly to first, allowing Federowicz to score. Chad Flack accounted for the Heels sixth run when he singled sharply to left field to drive in Josh Horton. Tim Fedroff made it 7-3 when he singled back through the box to plate Seager. Taylor has just been replaced by the fourth Wolfpack pitcher, sidearmer Kyle Rutter (who entered the game to the AC/DC classic "Thunderstruck"). UNC has runners at first and second and still nobody out after seven batters.

UNC/NC STATE: White and Brackman Done

UNC coach Mike Fox lifted White with 2 outs in the seventh. He finished with 11 K's, including at least one K in every inning, and he struck out every Wolfpack batter at least once. He only gave up 4 hits, while walking 3, and threw 113 pitches. Rob Catapano came on in relief for UNC and got an inning-ending groundout by Jeremy Synan, who had the big triple last inning. NC State is hanging on to a 3-2 lead.

Eryk McConnell has come on to replace Andrew Brackman, who gave up only 2 runs on 3 hits while walking 4 and striking out seven.

UNC/NC STATE: Tempers Flaring in Raleigh

UNC scored a run in the sixth when Dustin Ackley doubled to lead off the inning, moved to third on a fly ball to RF by Tim Federowicz, and score on a fielder's choice by Josh Horton when 2B Dallas Poulk threw wildly to home plate.

NC State answered with a single by Caleb Mangum and a triple by Jeremy Synan. Marcus Jones had a two out bunt to score Synan with the go ahead run on what was ruled an error on 3b Chad Flack (although it looked like it should have been a hit because Flack would have never thrown out Jones even with a perfect throw). The Wolf Pack faithful were irate when the inning ended on a close play at first base after Kyle Seager bobbled a ground ball at 2B before throwing to first to nip Dallas Poulk. It's now 3-2 NC State after six innings. Alex White has struck out 10 batters to tie a career high.

We nearly had fisticuffs in the inning when Alex White hit Ryan Pond with a pitch and Pond flipped his bat and started walking to the mound while jawing at White. The freshman didn't back down as he yelled back at Pond while both teams started advancing toward each other. Just as order was being restored by the umpires, NC State head coach Elliot Avent went after UNC pitching coach Scott Forbes and they had to be separated by the umpires. I get the feeling we haven't seen the last of the hard feelings in this series, since these two are bitter rivals.

UNC/NC State: Another Attendance Record

Tonight's attendance is 3,109 to break the record set last night (2,982). Now I REALLY hope the fire marshal isn't reading this.

The score is still 1-1 after five innings in what is shaping into a great pitching match up. Andrew Brackman has thrown 74 pitches, struck out 6, and limited UNC to 2 hits. Alex White has thrown 79 pitches, struck out 8, and held NC State to 2 hits.

Tim Fedroff is wearing #47 tonight for UNC (he usually wears #16). Maybe there's something to switching numbers, since Tennessee catcher J.P. Arencibia had to wear a different number at LSU last night when he forgot to pack his black game jersey (or so the equipment manager says). He had a three-run double to help lead the Vols past LSU 7-1. So far tonight Fedroff is 1 for 2 with a double.

In what seems to be mandatory for college baseball games, there is a train currently on the tracks going past Doak Field. There seem to be quite a few college parks situated right next to train tracks (LSU's Alex Box Stadium and South Carolina's Sarge Frye Field are others that come to mind.)

UNC/NC State

Still 1-1 going to the bottom of the 4th. UNC got its first two batters on in the fourth, but Kyle Seager grounded into a double play and Chad Flack lined out to first baseman Pat Ferguson to end the inning.

Brackman has six K's in four innings, and Alex White has four in three innings. Home plate umpire David Pritchett has a rather vanilla punch-out move for called third strikes. Nothing like the double-clutch, double-fist pump of frequent College World Series umpire Al Davis.

Among the variety of songs played at the park so far tonight:
"Good Times" - Chic
"Kryptonite"- Three Doors Down
"Smoke on the Water"- Deep Purple
"A Little Less Conversation"- Elvis
the aforementioned "The Beautiful People"- Marilyn Manson

UNC/NC State: Deadlocked After Two

After Fronk's first inning home run, Brackman has the Tar Heels completely off balance with mostly offspeed pitches. He has retired six in a row, five of them on strikeouts.

Alex White cruised in the first, setting NC State down in order, but had a rough second inning. He gave up one single to Ryan Pond and walked Ramon Corona and last night's hero Marcus Jones to load the bases. White then uncorked a wild pitch and Corona scored from third to tie it up at 1-1.

Tim Fedroff has just led off the top of the third with a double off the top of the left field wall.

UNC/NC State: Heels Strike Quickly

Almost as soon as Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" stopped playing over the loudspeakers just before the game started, Reid Fronk took Andrew Brackman's second pitch of the game over the scoreboard in left center field to give UNC a lightning-quick 1-0 lead. This already matches last night's total scoring output for the visiting Heels.

Brackman rebounded to retire the next three batters, two of them on strikeouts. So it's 1-0 UNC heading into the bottom of the first.

UNC/NC State: Game 2 From Tobacco Road

Under clear skies with mid-70s temperatures, we're about to get game 2 going. The home Wolfpack took game one last night from the highly ranked Tar Heels, winning 11-1 behind Eric Surkamp's strong seven inning start. Robert Woodard lost consecutive starts for UNC for the first time in his career. Even still, he's an amazing 30-5 in four years in Chapel Hill. Tonight it's UNC freshman Alex White (4-3, 3.26) going against 6'10" Andrew Brackman (6-4, 3.90). Because Brackman is pitching, the pass list for professional scouts was rather lengthy.

Last night's crowd of 2,982 was a record for Doak Field at Dail Park. It looks like tonight's crowd may surpass that record. Hope the fire marshal isn't reading this. The NC State red in the crowd far surpasses the Carolina blue, but this series was sold out well in advance so about the only Tar Heel fans here will be the ones getting Will Call tickets from UNC players.

I thought I was seeing double when I walked in the front gate, as the ticket takers were two women who are identical twins. Interestingly, they were also taking tickets at the East Carolina/Rice series I attended in Greenville, NC over the Easter weekend. One of these nice ladies told me they like to travel around and work games at different campuses.

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