Game of inches makes
long night for Le Moyne
N.C. State to meet VCU next
By Sean Ryan
WILSON, N.C. – You can’t blame Le Moyne if it
was in search of a ruler at Fleming Stadium.
That way, the Dolphins could have proven the often-times overused
but seemingly appropriate adage about baseball being a game of inches firsthand
Friday night against North Carolina State in their regional opener before a
crowd of 3,007.
The top-seeded Wolfpack rode the right-wing of
redshirt freshman Michael Rogers and several Le Moyne “just-misses” in an 8-2
win over the Dolphins. N.C. State (43-16) moves to a winners’ bracket game
Saturday against Virginia Commonwealth, a 6-0 winner over Western Carolina. The
No. 4 Dolphins (33-16) and Catamounts meet in an elimination game to start the
“I know the guys are giving their all behind me,” said Dolphins
starter Brian Mattoon, who fell to 10-4. “No question about that. They’re doing
all they can for me.
“That’s baseball I guess. A different play and it could have been
a different game, but you don’t want to look at it that way.”
The Wolfpack got on the board on Dustin
Knight’s second-inning homer, a deep fly ball that seemed to carry and carry
right out of the park.
Then, the either-ways started happening.
In the fourth, Joe Gaetti singled off Mattoon
to start the frame. He stole second and moved up on a balk – one of three called
against Le Moyne’s lefty ace. With two outs, eight-hitter Marc Maynor blooped
one to center that Kyle Brown just missed making a diving catch on to end the
inning for a 2-0 Pack lead.
After the Dolphins scored on Michael Affronti’s
sacrifice fly to right with men on second and third in the fifth – Sam Parkins
didn’t advance to third, which ultimately cost Le Moyne a run – the Wolfpack
used another near-miss. Matt Camp bunted for a hit to third, and moved up on a
balk. He then moved to third on Chad Orvella’s drive to right. Justin Riley then
laced a liner to first, where drawn-in Mike Pecchia dove and got a piece of the
ball, but couldn’t keep it on the infield.
“They’re guy, he’s 10-3 for a reason,” Wolfpack
coach Elliott Avent said. “He’s quite a competitor. We had some opportunities
early, and he pitched out of it by making some good pitches.”
State added single runs in the sixth and
seventh innings. Adam Hargrave plated Knight (3 for 4, double) with a safety
squeeze as the Wolfpack turned to small ball in the sixth. In the seventh,
Mattoon loaded the bases with one out and just missed on a 3-2, two out fastball
that could have gone either way to Hargrave. He left following the inning,
allowing five earned runs on 13 hits and striking out nine.
Meanwhile, Rogers (12-3) was masterful again.
Rogers got into trouble in the eighth after
walking Anthony Aquilino and hitting Kyle Brown to start the inning. Brown, the
cleanup hitter, hit a shot that was caught in left. Rogers then got a popout out
of Jeff Justice and struck out Pecchia to end the threat and keep State up 4-2.
“Actually, I thought I got stronger as the game went on,” said
Rogers, who allowed two unearned runs and struck out seven in eight innings.
Added Justice: “I thought he got better throughout the game. His
fastball got faster, his slider [had] a lot more bite on it.”
Gaetti, who earlier missed a homer foul to
left, blasted a two-run shot off of Chad Sidmore in the eighth to add to the
Wolfpack’s cushion. Gaetti finished 3 for 5 with two runs, and Camp had three
hits at the leadoff spot for the Wolfpack.
Aquilino had two hits to lead the Dolphins, who
face a must-win situation, or the champions of the Metro Atlantic Athletic
Conference will be heading home.
“You’re back is against the wall,” said Le Moyne coach Steve Owens. “And you just do everything you can do to keep playing.
If you win at 11 o’clock, you get to take a shower and eat a hot dog and play
again at night.”