NC State Baseball is into the postseason. Brace yourselves.
Maybe it’s nothing more than merely the way we perceive things as fans, but NC State sports in general have seemingly always had this vexing ability to turn every sporting event into the ultimate emotional rollercoaster. Nowhere has this been more evident than postseason baseball, where there hasn’t been a year without a moment we still talk about since before that called strike three in Gainesville. In just the last five years we’ve both witnessed history and heartbreak at this time of year, and there’s no telling on which side of that thin but defined line this season will fall. But if we know one thing, if we can be sure of just one individual thing, it’s that something crazy is about to go down.
The universe bends toward chaos when NC State in on the diamond. The Pack’s 2013 Omaha run featured the longest game in ACC Tournament history and the longest game in NCAA Super Regional history. State played an 18 inning and 17 inning game within 16 days of each other, both decided by one run, both with a championship berth on the line. Supers that year were particularly chaotic. The Pack trailed in the bottom of the ninth in both wins over Rice. They scored twice on day one to walk off the Owls, and then scored three in the intended final frame to tie the second game. Eight innings later they were off to Omaha.
It was utter elation for this team, which hadn’t been to Omaha since 1968. The following year would go very differently as State would only play one postseason game, which was an ACC tournament play in game. Still though, in that one game, State’s flair for the dramatic had not lost its edge. The Pack lost that game because of a successful attempt to steal home, and a subsequent blown call by the home plate umpire.
In 2015, State would clinch a berth in the ACC Championship Game via an inside the park “home run” aided by two errors on the same play. This occurred in the bottom of the 12th in a game where State once again trailed in the bottom of the 9th. It was simultaneously the stupidest thing I’d ever seen and the greatest thing I’d ever seen. It was NC State postseason baseball and it was just getting started.
Eight days later Chance Shephard stood in the box as the final out for TCU to send the Frogs to the regional final. Instead he blasted a two run homer to beat the national seed on their home field. These are the kinds of moments that players remember forever and fans never forget where they were, except if you’re a State fan you get two to three a year, apparently.
Nothing else of note happened that year.
The roller coaster didn’t slow down next year either. State was staring a 0-3 ACC tournament, which until that point had been surprisingly mundane, in the face. The routinest of routine fly balls with 2 down in the ninth would have ended it for State if not for a division one scholarship baseball player letting it bounce right off his glove. Things stayed crazy in the rain soaked, rain lengthened, and possibly rain determined regional final against Coastal Carolina.
Last year’s postseason did include some more extra innings fun, but it was relatively calm comparatively. Perhaps the universe was just tapering itself in preparation for whatever insanity it will unleash on this year’s tournament season. I don’t know if this year will end with elation or heartbreak for the Pack9, or the most likely outcome of some combination of both. But whatever happens, it’s sure to be a wild ride. So pay attention, grab the nearest sturdy object, and hold on, because here we go.