Cretarolo shuts down
Lefty leads N.C. State to winners'
By Sean Ryan
SALEM, Va. – The last person Georgia Tech would
have expected to face in its winners’ bracket game with North Carolina State at
the ACC Tournament was Nate Cretarolo.
Not only did Cretarolo enter with a 4-3 record
and a 5.71 ERA – the lowest among Wolfpack starters – but he also didn’t have
any luck against the Yellow Jackets. In five previous innings against Tech, the
junior lefty from Cherry Hill, N.J., was 0-1 with 14 runs (13 earned).
Cretarolo stymied Georgia Tech’s potent bats
all evening, taking advantage of several great plays to toss a six-hit shutout
and put N.C. State (41-14) into the winners’ bracket final against North
Carolina with his 6-0 gem at wet and soggy Memorial Stadium. The Yellow Jackets
(40-16) were shut out for the first time since last year’s ACC tourney and will
play Duke in an elimination game.
“Nate Cretarolo was outstanding,” Wolfpack
coach Elliott Avent said. “Georgia Tech, obviously being one of the best teams
in the country…and to shut them out in a game of this importance is pretty
Cretarolo (5-3) walked only one and struck out
six one week after losing to the Yellow Jackets 9-6.
“I felt relaxed tonight, and I had command of all my pitches…,”
he said. “Also last week, I walked a lot of guys, and you can’t win when you
walk everyone. This outing in particular, I was in more control of my pitches.”
Said Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall: “He threw three pitches for
strikes and moved his fastball around on us a lot.”
For Avent and his coaching staff,
the decision to start Cretarolo made the most sense, even with 11-0 Vern Sterry
waiting in the wings.
“We thought that Nate was a good matchup for
Georgia Tech,” Avent said. “And basically a good matchup for anybody when he
Meanwhile, the Wolfpack posted a zip-code game
– scoring runs in five straight innings – by scoring 1, 1, 2, 1 and 1 (for those
playing at home, 11211 is Brooklyn, N.Y.) from the third to eighth innings. Most
of the damage came against Tech ace Kyle Bakker (8-2), who allowed 10 hits and
five earned runs in five innings.
Eight N.C. State batters had at least one hit,
with Matt Camp, Jeremy Dutton, Colt Morton and Marc Maynor notching two hits
“Most of it was fight,” said Morton, whose double plated a run in
the two-run fifth. “This team’s got so much fight in it right now…We’re going to
give it everything we’ve got. If you can beat us, you have to be pretty good.”
To make matters worse for Tech, State was more
than pretty good on defense. Maynor made a Willie Mays-type catch, robbing Tyler
Greene of a hit to center. He also made a sliding catch to end the game in
style. Shortstop Chad Orvella’s diving stop up the middle to rob Steven
Blackwood was spectacular.