GREENSBORO — N.C. State pulled out a 10-9, 10-inning win over Virginia Tech early this morning to advance to today's ACC championship final at NewBridge Bank Park.
It was the second night in a row that the Wolfpack (38-21) needed more than one day to complete a game.
What would N.C. State coach Elliott Avent tell his team afterwards?
"Go to bed," he said.
N.C. State designated hitter Pratt Maynard drove in outfielder Kyle Wilson for the game-winning run on a single in the top of the 10th inning.
Wilson nearly scored a tying run in the top of the eighth inning but was ruled out at the plate on the tag on a throw from Hokies right fielder Austin Wates. The tag may or may not have been there, but Avent was ejected from the game for challenging the call.
"He caught the ball but he didn't touch me," Wilson said of Hokies catcher Steve Domecus.
N.C. State will meet Florida State at 1 p.m. today.
"I think we've got a little something left in our bags," Wilson said.
On Friday night, N.C. State's game against Georgia Tech was first suspended after a half inning because of severe weather. Staff ace Jake Buchanan gave up two runs and threw 23 pitches, and then the game was postponed until Saturday at 10 a.m.
The team was disgruntled because there was lightning in the area before the game started. Yellow Jackets starter Brandon Cumpton warmed up Friday night but was able to pitch Saturday morning and give his team six innings.
Avent wouldn't let Buchanan back in the game when it resumed, and the Yellow Jackets won the game 17-5 in seven innings, the mercy rule invoked. The Wolfpack tapped six pitchers on top of Buchanan for the load.
The postponed game pushed back the start times all of Saturday's games by 90 minutes or more.
And when Clemson beat Georgia Tech later in the afternoon, it meant the winner of the State-Virginia Tech game, which started around 9:25 p.m., would advance to the final. The four-hour affair had a reported attendance of 4,456 and most stayed for the whole game, which ended at about 1:23 a.m.
N.C. State had a 7-1 lead after the top of the fourth inning, but starter Cory Mazzoni, who's No. 2 in the rotation, had an awful fourth inning, giving the lead right back to Virginia Tech (38-20) with seven runs in the inning. He didn't make it through the frame, his official line at 3 2/3 innings, with eight runs, all earned, on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
Buchanan was brought into the game and pitched six innings, allowing a single unearned run on six hits, with two walks and five strikeouts.
Buchanan said he played catch Saturday morning and felt good. He told coaches he was OK to pitch if needed.
"I wasn't expecting to come in that early," he said. His fastball was effective. "I felt I got good movement."
Wolfpack first baseman Harold Riggins, who was 4-for-5, tied the game with a solo home run that appeared to clear the 66-foot tall scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning.
The Hokies went back ahead with the unearned run in the seventh inning. But State, with Avent in the locker room, tied the game with one out in the ninth inning when sidearm reliever Ben Rowen hit pinch hitter Danny Canela with the bases loaded.
Between the games, N.C. State tried to rest, but not all were able to. Riggins, who normally doesn't head to bed until two or three in the morning, said it wasn't fun getting up around 7 a.m. for the postponed game.
He didn't nap Saturday.
"We knew what we had to do coming in," Riggins said. "You're trying to stay focused."
His four-hit performance, with a double and towering long ball, would suggest he did that.
Avent, in his 14th season at the Wolfpack helm, is getting his fourth chance to win an ACC tournament. He's 0-3 in the final, most recently falling to Clemson in 2006. This season, Avent surpassed legend Sam Esposito for the most baseball wins at N.C. State.
"We want to win this," Avent said, asked if he'd go all out for the final. "This is special."
Avent, who used 10 different arms in the two games, said he still had options for today's games, and mentioned Alex Sogard, who pitched six strong innings in Thursday's 13-8 win over Clemson.
"Whoever wants the ball," Avent said.
The win strengthens N.C. State's resume, as it's on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. N.C. State appears to have locked in its bid, but the official selections don't occur until Monday. Getting to the championship final should improve the team's RPI (ratings percentage index), 75 percent of which is based on a strength of schedule.
There's a good chance the ACC will send eight teams to the NCAA tournament for the first time, with North Carolina likely in despite missing the conference tournament because of a top 20 RPI. N.C. State, which had a hot May, most likely surpassed a fading Boston College, if the decision is really between those two schools.
At this point, the NCAA selection committee could be deciding between the Tar Heels and Eagles.