COLUMBIA, S.C.—Stetson got a yeoman’s effort out of the bullpen from junior Tucker Donahue, preserving an early lead to get the Hatters past North Carolina State by a 5-3 score, earning them a rematch with South Carolina in the championship round of the Columbia Regional.
N.C. State had seen Donahue before. The righthander threw 50 pitches over 2 2/3 innings in Stetson’s come-from-behind 8-7 victory on Friday. He was given the benefit of a day off while the Hatters who routed by South Carolina in the winners’ bracket game Saturday. Facing elimination on Sunday, Donahue was called into action again. And he came through again.
Stetson had opened up a 3-0 lead early, but after starter Robbie Powell gave up a two-run homer in the fifth to make it 3-2, Hatters coach Pete Dunn summoned Donahue, a swingman who’s made nine starts among his 28 appearances.
A sinkerballer who works in the low 90s with his fastball, Donahue induced five groundouts through his 3 2/3 innings of work, including a critical double play with the tying run on third base in the sixth. He mixed in three strikeouts with three walks.
“I give a lot of credit to Donahue,” N.C. State coach Elliot Avent said. “I thought Donahue was better today than he was the other day. I wish Donahue had thrown against South Carolina last night.”
Hatters shortstop Mark Jones keyed their rally from a five-run deficit against the Wolfpack on Friday, and he broke the Pack's hearts again with the defensive play of the game Sunday.
With the score 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, N.C. State had runners on the corners with two down when DH Pratt Maynard hit a rocket toward Jones’ right. The junior dove to his right and snared Maynard's ball, coming to his feet with time to gun him down at first and end the threat.
“That play Jones made, that probably was the turning point of the game even though we had the lead,” Hatters coach Pete Dunn said. “That ball goes through, it may turn the whole momentum. That was a momentum killer for them. He really sat on that ball and Jones made a great play.”
The Hatters added single runs in the seventh and eighth to pad their lead to 5-2, but the Wolfpack made it interesting in the ninth. N.C. State finally got Donahue out of the game after putting runners on second and third with one out, only to see him replaced by righthander Jake Boyd, who also shined against the Wolfpack on Friday.
After one run came in, the game came down to a showdown between Boyd and Wolfpack catcher Danny Canela, who already hit two home runs in the regional and represented the winning run. With the count 1-and-0, Canela squared one up.
“I hit it as hard as I could,” Canela said. “With the confidence I have been having this weekend, by far one of the best weekends I’ve had at N.C. State, it’s probably the hardest ball I have it. It was one of the hardest ball I have hit all year.”
But Canela hit it to the wrong part of Carolina Stadium. While the ball has been jumping to left and right field, center field has been deadly for potential home runs, and Canela’s ball found the glove of Stetson center fielder Spencer Theisen short of the fence.
“(Canela) hit it pretty good,” Dunn said. “There’s a lot of room out there in center field. Usually when a ball goes up, I’ll watch it for a second, then I’ll focus on the outfielder. As soon as I looked at Spencer, I could tell he was gliding a little bit.
“When it went off the bat, it was rough. When you get to be my age, you don’t need a lot of things like that to get the heart rate going. That’s dangerous.”
Now, the Hatters get another crack at No. 4 national seed South Carolina. The Gamecocks jumped on the Hatters Saturday, opening up a 11-1 lead after five innings before eventually prevailing 11-5. When Dunn and Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner shook hands after that game, Dunn said they’d meet again.
Tucker Donahue made sure he was right.
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog