Best Games Of 2012-13: No. 5

Best Games Of 2012-13: No. 5

Continuing today with entry No. 5, is counting down the top 25 games of 2012-13 until we get to No. 1. To catch up on the previous great moments of the Tar Heel year, click here for entries 6-25.

No. 5: Carolina 2, NC State 1 (18 inn.) - Baseball, May 25-26, 2013

You could make a pretty incredible list of great Carolina games of 2012-13 without even leaving the baseball postseason. There's the five-run comeback to beat Clemson in 14 innings in the ACC tournament, a pair of heart-stopping wins over South Carolina in the NCAA Super Regionals and wins over NC State and LSU in the College World Series.

But it's UNC's 18-inning win over NC State in the ACC tournament in Durham that opens the top five of our countdown.

Much was written in the aftermath of Carolina's 4-0, 12-inning win over NC State in the 2012 ACC Championship in Greensboro about how the game was a seminal moment in the history of college baseball in North Carolina. The crowd of 10,229 was the largest ever to watch a college game in the state, and the emergence of NC State as a second national contender in the Triangle made every matchup seem that much more important.

The 2013 regular season series was a dramatic, though perhaps unsatisfying, prelude to what was to come in the postseason. UNC won the opener in Raleigh behind Kent Emanuel, while State took game two with Carlos Rodon on the mound. The rubber match was cancelled due to rain, so when the two teams landed in the same pool for the ACC tournament, the stars aligned for another magical night for North Carolina baseball.

Unlike in 2012 when Carolina had already been eliminated from contention for the ACC title game, the 2013 edition was win-or-go-home for both teams. And wiith the game being played at Durham Bulls Athletic Park - a AAA facility with a larger capacity than the A-ball NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro - the stage was set for another record crowd.

Carolina had wins over Miami and Clemson in pool play, while NC State had split a pair with the Hurricanes and Tigers. But the Wolfpack had the literal ace in the hole in Rodon, while UNC countered with Hobbs Johnson.

Johnson was solid through 5.1 innings for Carolina, as the junior lefty struck out nine while allowing just six hits and one run. But he seemed destined to take the loss as the Tar Heels were held hitless until Cody Stubbs singled in the seventh. 

It was still 1-0 State when Carolina pulled even thanks to a miscue by Rodon. Mike Zolk reached on a one-out walk and took second on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Chaz Frank grounded to first, but Rodon could not handle the throw and Zolk came around to score the tying run.

Rodon went 10 innings and struck out 14 while allowing just the unearned run and the Stubbs single, but the sophomore standout would leave the game with a no-decision as Carolina proved to be just as dominant on the mound.

Trent Thornton took over Johnson in the sixth and proceeded to author a truly incredible relief outing.

The freshman righty, who started the season as a midweek starter and became the kind of hybrid closer than Michael Morin had been in 2012, matched Rodon. Thornton pitched 6.2 innings of no-hit ball, recording 20 outs on 91 pitches, striking out seven and allowing just two walks.

Neither team got a runner past second until the 13th, when Frank reached on a two-out double and took third on a wild pitch. Frank was stranded there after D.J. Thomas got Colin Moran to fly out, and State got its chance to threaten in the bottom half.

Chris McCue relieved Thornton and quickly got into trouble, allowing a single and a walk to lead off the frame. After a sacrifice put both runners in scoring position, McCue intentionally walked Tarran Senay to load the bases. But McCue dug in, and the sophomore righty struck out Grant Clyde and Brett Williams - the latter on nine pitches - to escape the jam and extend the game.

Despite threats by both sides, the game continued well into the night, passing midnight and then 1 a.m. in Durham.

The top of the 18th opened with Landon Lassiter drawing a walk against State's Chris Overman before Overman hit Moran to put two on with no one out. Will Gilbert relieved Overman and allowed a fielder's choice bunt to Skye Bolt that moved Lassiter to third. After digging out of an 0-2 hole, Stubbs - a senior whose incredible season had flown under the radar due to the accomplishments of his junior teammates Moran and Emanuel - blooped the game-winning single into short left-center to plate Lassiter with the game's third run.

The Wolfpack didn't go quietly, however, as Williams led off the bottom of the 18th with a double before taking third on a wild pitch. But senior Chris Munnelly, who tossed three scoreless innings to cap a 12.2-inning, four-hit, no-run effort by the Tar Heel bullpen, retired Bryan Adametz, Sam Morgan and Logan Ratledge in order to strand Williams at third and end the longest game in Carolina history.

Carolina would complete its ACC Championship run just a few hours later, as Taylore Cherry and Trevor Kelley held Virginia Tech to six hits and one run to give UNC its sixth conference tournament title in program history. But it wouldn't have been possible without another amazing extra-inning win over NC State in front of a state-record crowd of 11,392 that Saturday night - and Sunday morning - in Durham.

Previous Entries
No. 6: Carolina 2, BYU 1 (2OT) - Women's Soccer, Nov. 23, 2012
No. 7: Carolina 76, NC State 65 - Men's Basketball, Feb. 23, 2013
No. 8: Carolina 64, Miami 62 - Women's Basketball, Jan. 27, 2013
No. 9: Carolina 6, Syracuse 1 - Field Hockey, Nov. 16, 2012
No. 10: Carolina 1, Stanford 0 (OT) - Women's Soccer, Nov. 30, 2012
No. 11: Carolina 3, Florida State 1 - Volleyball, Nov. 3, 2012
No. 12: Carolina 3, Wisconsin 2 (8 inn.) - Softball, May 16, 2013
No. 13: Carolina 2, Duke 1 (OT) - Men's Soccer, Sept. 28, 2012
No. 14: Carolina 79, Maryland 76 - Men's Basketball, March 16, 2013
No. 15: Carolina 10, Maryland 8 - Men's Lacrosse, March 23, 2013
No. 16: Carolina 72, Maryland 65 - Women's Basketball, March 9, 2013
No. 17: Carolina 4, Maryland 3 (OT) - Field Hockey, Oct. 20, 2012
No. 18: Carolina 11, Northwestern 8 - Women's Lacrosse, Feb. 22, 2013
No. 19: Carolina 4, USC 3 - Women's Tennis, Feb. 9, 2013
No. 20: Carolina 3, California 1 - Volleyball, Nov. 29, 2012
No. 21: Carolina 11, Johns Hopkins 10 (OT), Men's Lacrosse, March 30, 2013
No. 22: Carolina 1, Fairleigh Dickinson 0 (OT) - Men's Soccer, Nov. 25, 2012
No. 23: Peacock Smashes NCAA Record - Swimming and Diving, Dec. 2, 2012
No. 24: UNC's Big Day at ACCs - Track and Field, April 19, 2013
No. 25: Carolina 30, NC State 6 - Wrestling, Feb. 1, 2013

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