March 10, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. – No. 10 Georgia Tech’s late-game rally fell short and North Carolina State, aided by a gem from Carlos Rodon, defeated the Yellow Jackets 8-5 Saturday in Atlantic Coast Conference action at Doak Field in Raleigh, N.C.
Tech scored all of its runs over the final three innings, and brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, before State closer Ethan Ogburn picked up his second save.
Brandon Thomas doubled and tripled for the Yellow Jackets, who were without normal Saturday starter Matthew Grimes (arm) and slipped to 11-4 overall and 1-1 in ACC action. The Wolfpack improved to 10-3, 1-1.
Freshman Josh Heddinger made the emergency start for Grimes and was touched up for four runs in the first inning and did not retire a batter. In his first career start, the rookie got no help from his defense, which committed three first-inning errors and misplayed three pop ups in foul territory.
Sophomore Zane Evans gave Tech a yeoman’s effort from the bullpen, but the Yellow Jackets had no answer for lefty starter Rodon. The freshman kept the high-scoring Jackets scoreless over the first six innings and finished his seven innings of work with four hits, two runs (one earned) and six strikeouts.
Evans went five innings and allowed three runs and three hits with three strikeouts in his longest career outing.
Jake Davies, who led off the seventh inning with a single, scored from third on a passed ball to put Tech on the board in the seventh. Sam Dove, who was 2-for-3 and scored twice, later came home on Mitch Earnest’s sac fly, which cut the margin to 7-2.
Thomas ripped his triple off the right-field wall in the eighth inning and scored via Evans’ RBI groundout. Dove’s walk triggered a ninth-inning rally, which saw the Jackets score twice and bring the tying run to the plate. Chase Butler singled, Earnest had an RBI single and Paul Kronenfeld drew a pinch-hit walk to load the bases.
A sacrifice fly from Kyle Wren made it 8-5, but the game ended when Ogburn rolled a groundout from Thomas.
Heddinger was dealt the loss (1-1), Rodon got the win (3-0) and Chris Diaz was 3-for-4 with four RBI and scored a run for the Wolfpack.
The rubber game of the series is set for 1 p.m. Sunday and can be seen live on ESPN3.