MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The strategy was to save the best pitching for later.
But now, there is no later.
Stony Brook scored six runs in the first inning, enough to beat N.C. State 6-2 in an NCAA tournament elimination game at BB&T Coastal Field Saturday.
It was the Seawolves' first NCAA tournament win since joining the Division I ranks in 2000. Stony Brook (30-26) made regional appearances in 2004 and 2008.
N.C. State (38-24) had a dreadful first inning, down 6-0 before it faced a pitch.
Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent elected to start freshman Anthony Tzamtzis, who hadn't started all year, over two available starters in right-hander sophomore Cory Mazzoni (7-3, 5.20 ERA) and left-handed redshirt senior Alex Sogard (2-2, 5.26 ERA).
"It's certainly no disrespect to Stony Brook," Avent said. "We saw them play yesterday. We knew they were a good baseball team. ... It's about losing your first game. ... We made a decision that we've got to win four games [in a row] now."
Tzamtzis entered the game with a 7.71 ERA after 20 relief appearances this season, but Avent said he thought Tzamtzis' velocity would beat the Seawolves.
He loaded the bases on his first five pitches on a lead-off double and two hit batters. Then he walked in a run before yielding a single to Stony Brook outfielder Michael Stephen, who drove in two runs.
Stony Brook outfielder Tanner Nivins hit an RBI double with one out before Tzamtzis was relieved by sophomore Vance Williams.
Williams gave up a pair of RBI singles, both runs charged to Tzamtzis, but got out of the inning and went 5 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on three singles with five strikeouts.
"When you come into a game like that, you just try to shut down the rally, keep your team in the game," Williams said. "Our bats have been great all year long. I thought if I just kept us in the game then eventually our bats would take over, but unfortunately it didn't work out for us like that."
Meanwhile, Stony Brook starter Tyler Johnson, a sophomore, pitched well and he went deep.
"With that kind of cushion you get a little bit of a sigh, but you keep pitching, especially against a team like N.C. State," Johnson said.
Johnson pitched eight innings and gave up two runs on six hits with 10 strikeouts.
"He was very effective," Avent said. "He kept the ball down, sinker-baller, change-up guy.
The guys we've had trouble with all year.
He's the one guy we didn't want to see."
Johnson gave up a run in the second inning, but got out of the inning without any further damage after loading the bases. And N.C. State second baseman Dallas Poulk, who led off the fifth inning with a double, scored on a sacrifice fly from designated hitter Andrew Ciencin.
"My decision was to go with a frontline guy so I'm pretty pleased to be talking to you right now," Seawolves coach Matt Senk said of the decision to use Johnson. "Every coach knows his club best and his personel. This was what we needed to do today. Tyler did exactly what we needed. ... We're always going to worry about the game at hand and that's the approach we took."
The Seawolves got into the tournament with an automatic bid by winning the mid-major America East Conference tournament. They showed their team batting average of .324 was no fluke, out-hitting the Wolfpack 10-6.
Avent was thrown out of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning arguing balls and strikes after Ciencin was called out on strikes. He was given a warning initially, but a call from the Wolfpack dugout sent the umpire over the edge, Avent said.
Johnson struck out the next two batters, and was relieved by heading into the ninth by freshman William Carmona, the team's leading hitter, who also had 13 appearances -- 11 as a reliever -- this season.
"I just wish they would have brought in Carmona a little bit quicker," Avent said.
Carmona allowed two singles to start the inning before he got N.C. State to fly out to center twice and ground out to end the game.
"In the ninth inning, I don't know how everybody else felt, but I felt like we were going to win this ball game," Avent said of a team that had won seven of eight extra-inning games this season.
It was the first time N.C. State went 0-2 in a Regional since 1999. The Wolfpack finished strong this season, winning 11-of-16 games in the month of May and making it to the championship final of the ACC tournament last Sunday.
"This team has given everything they could to N.C. State," Avent said