Power surge: Orvella HR
jolts Tar Heels
to 3-0 in tourney
By Sean Ryan
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.”
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
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
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
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.”