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In a pitchers' duel at NewBridge Bank Park, the No. 21 Miami Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead into the ninth, but could not hold on as No. 15 North Carolina State came back for a 3-2 walk-off victory in the ACC Tournament opener for both teams.
Junior righthander Eric Nedeljkovic (0-2), who entered the game in the eighth and recorded the final out of the inning, allowed back-to-back singles with one away in the ninth. E.J. Encinosa was then called upon in relief, and promptly issued a walk to Wolfpack third baseman Trea Turner that loaded the bases. After a high chopper to third base by Chris Diaz scored the tying run, Encinosa issued a bases-loaded walk to outfielder Ryan Mathews that gave the Wolfpack the win.
"It was a good game, but we let it get away. There in the ninth, our bullpen just didn't pitch it very well, and we ran a little thin tonight," Head Coach Jim Morris said. "We had a couple opportunities to get some hits here and there, but we were short a few runs."
The Hurricanes offense was stymied for much of Wednesday afternoon's opener by Wolfpack starter Ethan Ogburn, who held the Canes to only two hits through the game's first five innings. But a two-run homerun from junior outfielder Chantz Mack, belted over the rightfield wall for his first homer of the year, opened the game's scoring in Miami's favor.
Veteran southpaw Eric Erickson delivered another quality start for the Hurricanes (34-20), who had won four straight against the Wolfpack entering Wednesday's contest. Erickson crafted another impressive outing by limiting damage through his seven innings of work, striking out three batters while scattering nine hits and walking none. In his last four starts, a streak spanning 23.0 innings of work, Erickson has allowed only two total runs.
"I just tried to keep our team in the game. I thought I threw well, and it's a credit to NC State's pitching staff as well because they threw a great game," Erickson said. "I got a lot of ground balls today, which was a big help. I'm used to pitching with guys on base, and my changeup was just working really well today."
One of those came in the sixth inning, as an RBI groundout from Jack Fincher in the bottom of the sixth cut the Hurricanes lead to 2-1. As he has done on countless occasions this season, however, Erickson worked himself out of another jam to help his team maintain the lead.
The Hurricanes could not strike for much off Ogburn and reliever Vance Williams, who combined allowed only seven hits through nine innings. Williams (3-3) allowed only two hits in 2.1 innings of relief, setting the Wolfpack up for an impressive comeback win on day one of the ACC Tournament.
"It hurts," Mack said after the game. "We had the momentum, and we just let them score at the end."
Things don't get any easier for Miami, who returns to NewBridge Bank Park for game two of their tournament against No. 6 North Carolina on Thursday. First pitch is set for 3 p.m., with live television coverage scheduled for Fox Sports Florida and ESPN3.com simulcast.