May 31, 2013


Wolfpack Slips Past Bearcats

By Sean Ryan Co-Founder


RALEIGH, N.C. – Trea Turner said he was a little scared. Elliott Avent watched in disbelief. Tim Sinicki was hoping for a little luck.


Three vantage points, three differing opinions on the bases-loaded fly ball lefty Nick Pancerella lofted down the right-field line with Binghamton trailing NC State 2-1 in the fourth inning. The feeling, of those on the field and the red-clad fans filling the stands at the Raleigh Regional, was mutual: awe.


NC State’s Jake Fincher, playing a little shallow and shaded a bit to the line, raced back a little and toward the line before a full-extension leap that turned into dive to the turf on the right-field line to haul in Pancerella’s bid for extra bases.


Fincher’s highlight-reel catch, coupled with a two-run homer from Tarran Senay and a solo shot from Trea Turner helped the Wolfpack open Regional play with a 4-1 Friday-night win the Bearcats.


NC State (45-14) advances to meet William & Mary, which surprised Ole Miss earlier in the day at Doak Field. Binghamton (30-24) will play an elimination game against the Rebels.


“It’s good to get off to a good start in the Regional,” said Avent, NC State’s coach. “Winning the first game is always tough.”


Fincher’s catch made things a little easier for the Wolfpack, who just missed out on claiming one of the final national seeds to the NCAA Tournament.


“The only thing I can say is ‘wow,’” Avent said. “We’ve made great plays all season. It was an unbelievable play by a great player. Jake Fincher is a guy that makes plays…That’s what he’s done since he’s been here.


“I can’t believe he made that play.”


Turner, NC State’s stellar shortstop, thought Fincher may have been beaten.


“I’m not going to lie, I got a little scared,” Turner said. “I saw how shallow he was playing, but he’s made big plays for us all season. It’s not a surprise that he did that, but I got scared for a second that it might have been out of his reach. Big play by him. That definitely gave us some momentum.”


And it turned out to be the last real shot the Bearcats had at upsetting the Wolfpack.


“That’s potentially a game-changer, we go from being down 2-1 to probably up 3-2 at that point,” said Sinicki, Binghamton’s coach. “I watched him the whole time and I thought he had a bead on it and was going to get it. I thought our only chance was that it would hopefully bounce off his glove.”


Senay (2 for 4), NC State’s cleanup hitter, hit a towering fly that cleared the wall with ease in right-center for a 2-0 lead in the first inning.


The Bearcats (30-24) scratched back in the top of the second when Shaun McGraw scored on John Howell’s 4-6-3 double play.


Binghamton, led by Zach Blanden’s three hits, had runners on early and often against State’s Ethan Ogburn – the Bearcats put the leadoff runner on three of the first five innings. Ogburn was lifted after 3.2 innings and in the middle of an at-bat in favor of Andrew Woeck with the Wolfpack clinging to a 2-1 lead. After Woeck, who inherited a 2-0 count, walked Howell to load the bases, Pancerella’s chance to be a hero was stymied by Fincher’s heroics.


“I give a lot of credit to that young man for making that play and giving his team a lift when quite possibly we could have taken the lead,” Sinicki said.


Turner opened the sixth with a solo homer to left to give NC State a little breathing room, which was more than enough for Josh Easley (6-2), who finished with 4.1 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief with four strikeouts.


Jack Rogalla (5-5) threw well in defeat for Binghamton, which will meet Ole Miss Saturday afternoon. Rogalla allowed eight hits – four coming in the sixth and seventh innings – and four earned runs in 6.2 innings with no walks and four strikeouts. Between the homers to Senay and Turner, Rogalla retired 12 of 14 batters.


“He definitely had good stuff,” Senay said. “He was a good competitor and pitched his butt off.”


Logan Ratledge added a RBI single for the Wolfpack in the seventh. Fincher and Brett Austin joined Senay in finishing with two hits for NC State.