In the game notes of Campbell’s 5-4 win over North Carolina State in the first round the NCAA Baseball Greenville Regional, it didn’t seem like the game lasted too long — just two hours and 46 minutes of game time. But this one was a long time coming.
First pitch at 12:06 p.m. on Friday, and after a series of severe weather delays, the game reached its conclusing at 12:20 p.m. on Saturday.
“Man, that was a short game,” said a jovial Campbell coach Justin Haire. “Nothing like a 24-hour game.”
But Campbell fans had been waiting a lot longer than 24 hours for this — five years to be precise. That’s the last time the Camels picked up a tournament win, a 4-1 victory over Old Dominion back in 2014. Saturday’s tourney win marks just the second in school history, and the first since Haire took the helm in 2015.
“It’s special,” said Campbell starting pitcher Michael Horrell. “I’m grateful to be a part of it, but at the same time it’s not very surprising because we have a special group of guys and we’re all very close-knit. We work extremely hard, and I kind of expected this to happen.”
The game started rather smoothly as the first seven and a half innings went uninterrupted. Then an 80-minute lightning delay hit. The two teams were able to make it through the top of the ninth before another delay, and that’s when the rain came. After five and a half hours of on-and-off downpours, the NCAA decided to postpone the bottom of the ninth to noon on Saturday.
“It’s been a weird last 24 hours, but our guys stay locked in and I have faith in them as much as I do anyone,” said Campbell outfielder Matthew Barefoot. “How we approach the game, how we approach each other, is something special. I think that has a lot to do with the outcome today.”
Up 5-4, the Camels only needed three outs on Saturday to secure the win. Landry Moore got the job done in less than 15 minutes.
Campbell did the dirty work early on, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning. After Barefoot reached on an error and advanced to second on a grounder, Luiz Giminez drove him in with an RBI single to make it 1-0. Spencer Packard doubled down the left field line to move Giminez to third, and Collin Wolf drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Then, Big South Tournament MVP Koby Collins launched a two-run dinger to make it 4-0. Campbell added its fifth run in the fourth inning after Barefoot got a hit, stole second, moved to third on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Anshaw.
That gave Horrel, the Big South Pitcher of the Year, a nice cushion to work with. He cruised through most of his seven innings, the two blemishes coming in the third, when N.C. State scored three unearned runs off a couple of errors, and in the top of the eighth, when Jonny Butler ripped a home run to lead off the inning. That’s when the lightning struck, ending Horrell’s day. He finished with 11 strikeouts and no walks over seven innings of work.
Tyson Messer took the mound in the eighth and handled the Wolfpack comfortably. Then the second delay hit, pushing the final frame to Saturday. But Haire’s team seemed to embrace the delay.
“It’s really fun to be with our guys,” Haire said. “I was telling the postgame interview on ESPN, I think nothing probably helped us more than jacking around in their indoor [facility] for about six hours. Our guys love each other and are a true brotherhood. Being able to spend a bunch of extra time together is always fun.”
Campbell’s upset over State wasn’t the only one on the day. Quinnipiac knocked off host East Carolina 5-4 later that evening. That sent the two favorites to make it out of the region into the losers’ bracket elimination game, played Sunday at noon. The Camels, meanwhile, faced the fourth-seeded Bobcats in the Sunday evening game, where the winner advanced to the final, needing only one win to advance to the Super Regional. Check online at mydailyrecord.com/sports-stories for further updates on Campbell’s progress throughout the Regional.