Next stop: Omaha
Brett Williams doubled in Tarran Senay in the top of the 17th inning to help North Carolina State beat Rice 5-4 on Sunday in the longest super regional game in NCAA history.
Senay drove in the run that tied it in the ninth inning and set the stage for N.C. State (49-14) to make its first College World Series appearance since 1968.
“It’s been special these last two days,” Senay said. “It doesn’t matter how we get the W, as long as we win. It’s a great feeling, and we’ll see how we do in Omaha.”
Rice (44-20) tied a season high with three home runs. Two were solo shots by Christian Stringer, who homered and hit a go-ahead double in Game 1 and has four of the Owls’ six extra-base hits in the series. Before the super regional, Stringer had one home run in 62 games this season.
N.C. State starter Logan Jernigan held Rice to two hits over five innings, including Stringer’s first home run, but just as in Game 1, the Wolfpack struggled to scratch out runs early.
Owls starter Jordan Stephens allowed one earned run in 6 1-3 innings, and N.C. State left 16 runners on base.
But in the ninth, Game 1 hero Jake Fincher drove in a pair of runs with a double into the right-field corner and scored on Senay’s double to tie it at 4.
The Owls left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth when No. 3 hitter Keenan Cook popped a bunt back to pitcher Grant Sasser to send the game to extra innings.
“The first baseman was almost on the grass,” Rice coach Wayne Graham said. “Any kind of bunt to the right side would have scored the run. It didn’t exactly go in the right direction.”
After that, it was a duel between bullpens. The teams were a combined 0 for 22 at the plate following a 77-minute rain delay in the 12th until Rice’s Leon Byrd singled in the 16th.
N.C. State’s bullpen held Rice without a hit for 7 1-3 innings after the ninth, and Rice’s John Simms gave up only one hit in 6 2-3 innings before the Wolfpack broke through in the 17th.
“The drama, you only enjoy that when you come out on top,” Williams said.