Taking a two-run lead into the ninth inning, fifth-seeded NC State (34-20) gave up a three-run home run to Edgar Michelangeli that vaulted top-seeded Miami (45-10) over the Wolfpack Thursday evening in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, 8-7.
“Obviously, tonight was a tough loss,” Preston Palmeiro said. “Every time we play Miami, it’s a battle. That’s why we play the game. You play for those kind of nights where it’s back and forth all game.”
Palmeiro finished the game 2-for-5 at the plate with a double and a run. Joe Dunand added a 3-for-5 performance with a run scored. Chance Shepard was 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, a run scored, and four runs driven in.
Tommy DeJuneas (2-3, 6.11 ERA) surrendered the homer that sealed State’s fate, picking up the loss on 1-1/3 innings’ work. DeJuneas gave up two hits and two walks while striking out one Hurricane batter.
Sean Adler started his first game of the 2016 season and hurled 2-1/3 innings on the mound. He left the game with a no-hitter though he walked six batters while only striking out two.
His successor, Evan Brabrand, surrendered the Canes’ first hit of the game: a two-run home run by Brandon Lopez that gave Miami its first lead of the game. One of the runs was credited to Adler. Brabrand finished the day with three strikeouts in 1-1/3 innings of work.
Travis Orwig followed and gave up two runs on three hits in an inning on the hill. Austin Staley followed with 2/3 inning of work before Cody Beckman took over with 2-1/3 frames. Beckman gave up a run one three hits while striking out four before DeJuneas took over.
After giving up two runs in the top of the third inning, the Pack rallied for five runs in the bottom of the fourth. Palmeiro led off the frame with a double. Dunand singled to put runners on the corners. Brock Deatherage scored Palmeiro with a bunt single. Andrew Knizner dropped down a bunt single to load the bases.
Brett Kinneman singled Dunand home before Shepard drove Deatherage and Knizner home with a double into right-center field. Josh McLain drove Kinneman home with a groundout to short to conclude the scoring for the inning.
The Canes added two runs in the fifth before tying the game in the top of the eighth. State responded by taking the lead in the bottom of the frame. Knizner led off with a single into left field. Two batters later, Shepard launched his 12th home run of the season over the Blue Monster in left field to give the Pack its short-lived lead.
“I was looking for something I could handle right there,” Shepard said. “I tried to step up for our team. Miami is a great team. They did what they did, and we just got to accept it.”
State will conclude its pool play Friday evening when the Pack takes on ninth-seeded Georgia Tech at 7 pm. After its contest with the Yellow Jackets, the team will await the NCAA selection committee’s decision on where it will play in the national tournament.
“I think the committee looks at everything we’ve done all year and who we’ve played,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “Especially with our end-of-the-year schedule and how we’ve played these teams, I think they’ll say we’re deserving of a host.”