RALEIGH, N.C. -- Matt Payne's run-scoring infield single in the seventh inning lifted North Carolina State past South Carolina 2-1 on Sunday night in the Raleigh Regional championship.
The Wolfpack (41-20) claimed the third regional title in school history and first since they claimed their 2003 regional in Wilson, N.C. They advance to face the champion of the regional in Athens, Ga. -- either Georgia or Georgia Tech -- in next weekend's best-of-three super regional series.
N.C. State broke a 1-all tie in the seventh. Chris Schaeffer and Drew Martin hit one-out singles and Ryan Pond walked to load the bases. Matt Payne hit a grounder deep into the hole at shortstop, and when Reese Havens couldn't make a play, Schaeffer scored the go-ahead run.
Havens led off the Gamecocks' first inning with his 18th home run of the season, a shot down the right-field line that gave South Carolina (40-23) a 1-0 lead. Remarkably, about two hours earlier, Havens ended his team's 7-5 victory over James Madison with a game-ending two-run shot.
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Losing pitcher Will Atwood (5-4) retired the first 10 batters he faced and didn't allow a hit through four innings, before Jeremy Synan led off the fifth with his seventh homer of the season down the right-field line.
The game was delayed 1 hour, 19 minutes because of rain, prompting the Wolfpack to change pitchers. Starter Eric Surkamp was replaced by Sam Brown (4-1), who retired the side in the fifth and pitched 2 1-3 innings of one-hit relief.
Alex Sogard worked 1 1-3 innings for his first save. N.C. State's bullpen allowed no runs and one hit in 11 innings in three regional games.
Havens' first shot of the day helped the Gamecocks escape their elimination game against James Madison.
After Scott Wingo led off the ninth with a single through the right side, Havens followed with a drive to right field off Kyle Hoffman that sent the Gamecocks to their ninth straight regional final.
Justin Smoak homered twice for South Carolina, which earned a championship-round rematch with North Carolina State later Sunday. The Gamecocks needed to beat N.C. State twice to return to the super regionals for the third straight year.
James Madison (39-19) tied it at 5-all in the ninth when Chris Johnson's two-run double scored Matt Browning and McKinnon Langston.
Smoak has a career-high 23 homers this season, tying him with Joe Datin in 1985 for the second-most in a season with the Gamecocks. He moved into fifth place in Southeastern Conference history with 62 career homers, moving past Alabama's Andy Phillips and Mississippi State's Will Clark.
Whit Merrifield's one-out single gave the Gamecocks a 5-3 lead in the seventh.
James Madison scored three runs in the fourth off South Carolina pitcher Blake Cooper, on RBI singles by Browning, Langstoni and a run-scoring double by Lee Bujakowski.
Mike Cisco (6-3) worked one-third of an inning for the victory. Hoffman (6-5) took the loss.
Freshman Alex Valadja pitched a career-best 6 1-3 innings for the Dukes, giving up just five hits.