Baseball rallies past #18 NC State in 8-6 thriller Tuesday evening

WRAL photo gallery (photos by Will Bratton)

BUIES CREEK – Jimmy Brenneman reached base in all five plate appearances and David Olson went 3-for-5 with a big two-RBI single in the sixth inning as Campbell (31-8) rallied from an early three-run deficit to defeat #18 NC State (24-11) 8-6 before a season-high crowd of 1,135 fans at Taylor Field Tuesday evening. The game was the highest attended baseball contest in Buies Creek since a 2009 game against NC State drew 1,223 spectators.

The Wolfpack jumped out to a 4-1 lead after four innings before the Fighting Camels mounted a rally that included a three-run fifth inning and four more runs in the sixth that gave the hosts a lead the bullpen maintained.

NC State controlled the momentum early, scoring twice in their first at-bat to strike first. Trea Turner led off the game with infield single for the Wolfpack. Chris Diaz immediately followed with a double to deep left center to bring home Turner for the first run of the game. Diaz advanced to third on a Camel throwing error and came to the plate in the next at-bat on Danny Canela's sacrifice fly, giving the visitors a 2-0 advantage.

The Wolfpack put the first two runners on base to start the second inning before Hector Cedano relieved Camel starter Paul Eyster. Jake Fincher sacrificed the NCSU runners ahead a base and Turner later recorded the second sacrifice fly of the game for NC State, but Cedano stranded two runners on base and went on the pitch two more innings of no-hit baseball, allowing just one unearned run in the fourth.

The Camels got on the scoreboard in the home half of the second inning as David Olson started things off with a single. Nick Ray then drew a walk to put two runners on with no outs. After the Wolfpack executed a double play, Camel catcher Ben Fish drew a walk to put runners on the corners with two outs. With Cam'Ron Summers at the plate, Fish initiated a rundown between first and second on a stolen base attempt that allowed Olson to race home and score before Fish was tagged out.

Fish led off the fifth for CU with a double down the left field line to start the CU rally. After Fish advanced to third on a groundout, Brenneman drew one of his three walks on the day to put runners on the corners with one out. Ben McQuown followed with a RBI single that plated Fish and advanced Brenneman to second.

After both runners advanced on a double steal, Jake Kirkland drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Olson then reached on an error that also scored Brenneman, and Ray drew a bases loaded walk to tie that game at 4-4.

The start of the sixth deemed trouble for Campbell as Ratledge reached after a two-base error. Ratledge moved over to third after a groundout that marked the first out of the inning, but was held there as Campbell reliever Ryan Mattes struck out the next two batters to get out of the frame unscathed.

Fish led off the sixth in similar fashion as an inning earlier by sending a base hit to leftfield. A sacrifice bunt from Summers advanced Fish into scoring position for the top of the lineup. Brenneman followed with a perfectly placed bunt of his own for an infield single that placed runner on the corners with one out.

McQuown drew a base on balls to load the bases and set the stage for Michael Felton, who gave the Camels their first lead of the game with an RBI single trough the right side that scored Fish and put Campbell in front 5-4. With two outs, Olson singled to right and brought home Brenneman and McQuown to give CU a three-run advantage. A wild pitch in the next at-bat allowed Felton to race home from third and push the margin to an 8-4 Camel lead through six innings.

NC State tacked on a single run in the seventh and eighth innings to draw within two runs, but Matt Marksberry entered in relief of Mattes and nailed down his first save of the season. The redshirt sophomore stranded two Wolfpack runners in the eighth before working a perfect ninth to seal the victory. Mattes earned the win for Campbell, tossing 2.2 innings while allowing two hits and one runs with two strikeouts in moving to 4-1 on the season. Ryan Wilkins takes the loss for NC State after surrendering three runs on two hits in one inning of work.

Logan Ratledge led the Wolfpack offensive effort, finishing 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Chris Diaz also had a two-hit night for the visitors. For the Camels, Fish was 2-for-3 with one walk on the evening, with both hits leading off the decisive fifth and sixth innings.

Campbell hits the road for the next ten games, visiting VMI this weekend for a three-game Big South Conference series. NC State returns home to face Boston College in an ACC matchup.

Campbell University student Scott Baytala contibuted to this article. Baytala is a sophomore Communication Studies major from Washington, N.C.