CONWAY, S.C., Feb. 27, 2010 - North Carolina State struck for four runs in the fourth and added a two-run home run in the fifth to defeat James Madison 6-2 in the Baseball at the Beach Tournament on Saturday at Coastal Carolina's Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field.
NCSU improved to 6-0 on the season while JMU fell to 0-2. The final score was identical to the last meeting between the two teams in 2008 in the NCAA Raleigh Regional.
JMU head coach Spanky McFarland commented on the loss, saying "Overall I thought we played a little better than yesterday. The glaring stat from the game is 13 runners left on base. We did a better job of getting on base, but I think we're over-swinging a little bit and trying too hard. Most of the mistakes today were still things that down the road probably won't happen once we're used to being outside."
Four Wolfpack pitchers combined to hold JMU to two runs on six hits. Grant Sasser earned the victory with one run on two hits in three innings of relief. Russell Wilson entered a two-on, no-out jam in the ninth and escaped with his first save.
Redshirt junior Kyle Hoffman (Reading, Pa./Twin Valley) took the loss for JMU, allowing six runs, four earned, on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. It was his first appearance since a walk-off home run against South Carolina in the Raleigh Regional in 2008, as Hoffman missed the 2009 season with a knee injury. Four relievers limited N.C. State to one hit over the final 2 1/3 innings.
McFarland commented on getting Hoffman back on the mound, "First of all, it was good to see him out there. He's been such a vital part of our team the last two years. The fact that he pitched pretty well was even better. He had pretty good stuff. His location was not as good as it will be, but for his first outing in two years, we'll take it."
Catcher Danny Canela had the big hit for the Wolfpack with a two-run home run to expand the lead in the fifth. Three runs also scored on a Chris Diaz RBI single in the fourth, with two unearned runs crossing the plate on a throwing error.
Junior shortstop David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) had the only extra-base hit for the Dukes, going 2-for-4 with a solo home run and a walk. Senior infielder Mike Fabiaschi (Torrington, Conn./Torrington) also had two hits while redshirt junior infielder Trevor Knight (Charlottesville, Va./St. Anne's-Belfield) reached three times on walks.
JMU struck first in the bottom of the first as Herbek singled and Knight walked. Senior left fielder Matt Browning (Mystic, Conn./Fitch) then singled through the left side to plate Herbek for the early lead.
Then, like Friday, it was a big inning that broke open the game. McFarland noted, "It was the second day in a row that a big inning got us. That's something we're going to have to straighten out as it really made the difference in the ballgame. During that big inning, we had a walk, a mental mistake for an error to compound it, and the two runs scoring on that mistake. There was a bad hop in there too. A good team might give up a run here and there but the big inning has to stop."
The big inning started when consecutive one-out singles put runners on the corners. Second baseman Dallas Poulk then laid down a perfectly placed bunt past the pitcher to second base to push in the tying run at 1-1. After a walk, Diaz lined a one-ball, two-strike pitch up the middle to drive in the go-ahead run. After the throw came to the cutoff, Fabiaschi tried to get the runner advancing to second but threw the ball away into right field, allowing both runners to come around and break open a 4-1 Pack lead.
NCSU added to the lead in the fifth with Maynard leading off with a single to left. Canela then homered just inside the right-field foul pole for a 6-1 lead.
JMU picked up its first run since the first inning as Herbek smashed a solo shot to left with one out in the seventh.
JMU loaded the bases with one out in the ninth on an error and a pair of walks. However, a strikeout and a popup clinched the Pack victory.
The Dukes will conclude play in the tournament on Sunday at 11 a.m. against #6 UC Irvine at BB&T Coastal Field.
NOTES: Redshirt senior Brett Garner (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock) extended his hitting streak to a career-best nine games dating back to 2009.