Columbia, S.C. - Stetson came from behind early and then scored a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat North Carolina State 8-7 Friday afternoon in the opening game of the 2011 NCAA Columbia, S.C. Regional. The Hatters are now 42-18 overall on the season and 1-0 in the double-elimination tournament. The Wolfpack fell to 34-26 overall and fall into the loser's bracket.
Mark Jones (Bunnell, Fla.) led a group of four Hatters who tallied two hits each in the game. Jones was 2-for-4 with four RBI and a run scored. Jeff Simpson (Valrico, Fla.), Robert Crews (Port Charlotte, Fla.), and Nick Rickles (Loxahatchee, Fla.) each had a pair of singles.
NC State jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a run in the top of the first inning and four more in the third. The Hatters had to overcome some early jitters after making a key error and allowing a catchable pop fly drop safely into short left field.
"Instead of being good news-bad news, today it was bad news-good news. We started off looking like the bad news bears dropping that pop up and misplaying the pickoff at first. Then we finished strong. I am proud of our guys for fighting back and picking up a big win today", said Stetson head coach Pete Dunn.
After holding the Wolfpack scoreless in the top of the fourth the Hatters began their charge in bottom half of the inning. Crews singled with one out and Rickles singled with two outs before Jones Stepped in and muscled an 0-1 fastball over the wall in left field for his 5th home run of the season.
After scoring three in the fourth Stetson took it one step further with four in the fifth. Ryan Lashley (Lake Worth, Fla.) led off with a sharp single to right and then Mitchel Brennan (Orlando, Fla.) tied the game at five with a high blast that landed on top of the right field wall and bounced over for his second home run of 2011. Simpson and crews followed with singles and then moved up on a double-steal. Rickles knocked in Simpson with a sacrifice fly and Jones plated Crews with a single through the left side of the infield.
Down by two, NC State tied the game in the top of the seventh after Tucker Donahue (Coral Springs, Fla.) surrendered a walk and a home run to the first two batters. Jake Boyd (West Palm Beach, Fla.) took over and tossed the final three innings allowing no runs and giving up just two hits. He did not walk a batter, struck out six and improved to 9-1 on the year. Lindsey Caughel (Orlando, Fla.) started for the Hatters and allowed five runs on nine hits over 3.1 innings.
The Wolfpack brought in closer Chris Overman (Charlotte, N.C.) to keep the game even in the bottom of the ninth. Stetson had other ideas. With one out Ben Carhart (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) singled to right and then gave way to pinch runner Sean Emory (Miami, Fla.). With Stetson's leading hitter at the plate Emory advanced to second on a wild pitch. Rickles then roped a 3-2 pitch through the left side for a base hit. It looked like Emory would stop at third as the drawn in left fielder was quick to the play, yet the defender allowed the ball to get past him and Emory was waved home with the winning run.
Overman suffered the loss and fell to 6-3 after giving up one unearned run on two hits.
Stetson will now play the winner of tonight's game between No. 1 South Carolina and No. 4 Georgia Southern. The game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The loser's bracket game will be played earlier in the day at 1:00 p.m.