I've been fortunate enough to watch Carlos Rodon do something approximating magic--he went 10 innings against what is probably the best offense in college baseball and had a no-hitter going late into the contest. There was a point when we were up 1-0 and I was thinking, "A win over UNC on a no-hitter? That can't happen, right? There's no way." How could those thoughts bully their way in there under any circumstances? Nevermind, it was magic.
I knew Rodon could be brilliant, but this was something else. It wasn't just that he shut down such a potent offense; he did it under the pressure of tournament play, with an ACC title on the line, in front of more than 11,000 people.
I have no idea when I last saw a college pitcher go 10 innings. Probably never. His slider that night would have been considered a jailable offense in most states. Even the third time through, UNC's hitters couldn't seem to figure out what the hell to do. There aren't a lot of pitchers at the college level who can tie Carolina's lineup into mental knots like that.
As impossible as it seems, his start was almost buried by circumstances; the game ended up going 18 innings, making his last frame a distant memory. NC State's hitters had the opportunity on numerous occasions to redeem Rodon and give him the satisfaction of a victory well earned, even if it was gonna go down officially as a no-decision. Instead, well, insert here a photo of Brett Williams reacting to that horrible 3-2 swing.
That was one of the most entertaining, compelling, and agonizing games in league history. Carlos Rodon was fucking stupid-good. I'm glad I saw all of it, even though it ended in pain. It burns. It really burns. I'll never regret it.