May 24, 2003


CBI Live
Power surge: Orvella HR jolts Tar Heels
Wolfpack improves to 3-0 in tourney

By Sean Ryan Co-Founder

SALEM, Va. – Up until 13 games ago, Chad Orvella had two homers in 355 at-bats for North Carolina State.


The senior shortstop, who checks in at 5-10, 190 pounds, doesn’t consider himself to be a slap hitter, though.


“In BP, I’ve always been able to hit home runs,” Orvella said. “I’ve been struggling to transfer it to games.”


Not anymore.


Orvella’s laser shot over the wall in left in the 11th inning early Saturday evening gave the Wolfpack a 7-6 win over rival North Carolina in a winners’ bracket affair of the ACC Tournament.


The homer was Orvella’s fourth in his past 13 games, a span of 43 at-bats. What about the new-found power?


“I don’t know,” Orvella said.


Added Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent: “I don’t know; he’s a good hitter.”


N.C. State (42-14) took a short break before getting the chance to eliminate Florida State in Saturday’s final game. The Tar Heels (39-20) meet Georgia Tech Sunday in an elimination game.


After UNC tied the game with a run in the bottom of the seventh, the game stayed tied until the second extra inning. Orvella, batting in the seven-hole, ripped a 2-1 offering from Friday night hero Whitley Benson (3-3) over the wall in left.


“He’s my MVP of the team,” Avent said of Orvella, who’s hitting .305 on the year and has made all of six errors at short.


But it’s evident the Wolfpack is a team of MVPs. The entire tournament in general, and Saturday in particular have proven that.


UNC was able to get past one of N.C. State’s aces, touching unbeaten Vern Sterry for nine hits and five earned runs in 4.2 innings.


But after Phillip Davidson did an admirable job of middle relief, the Tar Heels were unable to figure out bullpen ace Joey Devine. Devine (5-2) worked a season-high 4.1 innings with four hits and seven strikeouts.


“The big thing is to go out and throw strikes,” said Devine, who boasts a 2.14 ERA and 13 saves. “First-pitch strikes are the key to success.”


Having a heater that tops 90 mph and a slider that moves more than a Wiffle ball help.


“He’s dirty,” said Orvella, who also drove in the game’s first run with a single. “He’s one of a kind. He’s made a great contribution to this ballclub.”


Sterry, who entered with an 11-0 record and a 2.71 ERA, got into trouble in the second by hitting Ryan Blake and Wes Moyer. Greg Mangum had an RBI single to tie the game at 1 before Chad Prosser plated a second run when Adam Hargrave dived and snagged a grounder at second, but couldn’t get the speedy Prosser at first. Prosser had three hits and became UNC's all-time hit leader with 286.


State tied the game in the fourth on Justin Riley’s 16th homer, but the Tar Heels touched up Sterry in the fourth and fifth innings.


Moyer tripled to left and came in on Mangum’s groundout for a 3-2 lead. Chris Iannetta (3 for 6, two RBI) doubled in a run and came home on Moyer’s single for a 5-2 edge.


“Vern, at the beginning of the day, told us he didn’t have his stuff,” Orvella said of the Wolfpack’s ace. “He wasn’t feeling too hot…but he battled.”


As did the Pack.


Matt Camp started a string of six straight hitters to reach base off Carolina starter Garry Bakker with a single in the fifth. When it was over, Riley, Colt Morton and David Hicks had RBI singles off Bakker and reliever Scott Senatore, and Marc Maynor was hit by a pitch for a 6-5 lead. Senatore got a big double-play to get out of a bases-loaded jam and further damage.


Both teams had some chances to seize the win after Iannetta’s single tied the game at 6. In the ninth, Hargrave got picked off second base when the Wolfpack had runners on first and second on a missed bunt attempt. In the bottom half, Iannetta doubled to lead off the inning, but Moyer and pinch-hitter Chase Younts struck out – Moyer after squaring to bunt the first pitch and swinging the second pitch after State showed an early-break play from its first baseman.


“It’s a tough loss for us,” Tar Heels coach Mike Fox said. “I thought it was a great game. We missed several opportunities. We’ll be kicking ourselves about that for a while, but not too long.”