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NC State lost in tragic fashion again; here's what happened and how to get over it

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So your baseball team's just been eliminated from the post-season, has it. Well, listen here, friend, using my patented step by step system, you can get through this setback, one step at a time.

First and foremost, it  is important to acknowledge that while baseball is the greatest sport on earth, it can also be kind of a jerk. There's no clock on this thing, and we've all had some long nights in baseball, alone in the dark with nothing but our thoughts, time drawing out like a blade. It's rough sometimes. Look around you, locate the nearest appliance, and then shout its inadequacies at it.

Now we're ready for the next phase.

Why did my baseball team get eliminated from the postseason? Many ask, few answer, fewer still care. Here's a couple several things that led to this gross day.

1.) Ryan Williamson was a key piece to a thin rotation and he suffered a significant injury.

It's actually a tad miraculous that NC State managed to claw its way out of the loser's bracket and for a game seven in the regional, considering what little the Wolfpack had in the way of reliable arms. Johnny Piedmonte and Will Gilbert stepped up huge, and nothing that happened on Tuesday will detract from that.

But there was a point this year where State looked like a contender for a top-eight seed in the NCAAs, and indeed a favorite to reach Omaha. When Williamson got hurt at Clemson, the Pack's outlook changed considerably. The team's deep lineup one-through-nine could carry it a ways--and it nearly got State to the second weekend--but without Williamson, State wasn't really built to go deep in the tourney.

2.) Josh McLain got hurt, and it affected his production.

McLain wasn't the same at the dish after he broke a bone in his hand in April. He went from a top-of-the-order stalwart to a guy hitting in the nine-spot who did not appear to have much confidence. That said, the most important thing for this team was having his glove in centerfield--State had enough offense around him to make up for his absent bat.

Still, his bat was one of those little margins you need to be exceptional in college baseball--that plus-offense from a premium defensive position. Maybe it didn't have anything to do with his hand. He just was not a difference-maker offensively down the stretch.

3.) Brian Brown slumped.

Hey, it happens. Most pitchers who reach the college level or higher are going to have a string of bad outings. The nice thing about Major League Baseball is that the season's so long, you can put a bad stretch well behind you, and in the long run it doesn't have to matter much.

In college baseball, that bad stretch can span only, say, four starts, and yet that's a whole month. Brown had an excellent season overall, but he was not pitching his best at the tail end of it. He didn't manage to finish five innings against Coastal on Saturday.

NC State needed Brown and Williamson to be outstanding once postseason play started. By then, though, Williamson was hurt, and Brown wasn't playing well. Shit doesn't work out all the time. Sometimes the snake bites you.

4.) NC State never developed bullpen depth; Johnny Piedmonte disappeared for most of the season.

Coming into this year, we could say for certain that Brian Brown would be in the weekend rotation, and we also expected Piedmonte to fill one of the other two spots. Piedmonte had a decent 2015, y'know, nothing spectacular, but good enough to expect improvement going forward.

He spent most of 2016 completely incapable of getting guys out, to the extent that he couldn't find a slot in the weekend rotation despite State's various injury problems.

In the pen, Will Gilbert was brilliant ... but after him, well ... there were lots of questions, most of which varied by the day. Tommy DeJuneas has great stuff and started the year as State's closer. He couldn't put it together, though, and after a promising 2015 campaign, he gave up four homers in 29 innings this year, which is bad. This State team needed him to be consistent and very good.

There's good talent in that bullpen group, overall, but it's erratic talent. It was difficult for Elliott Avent to find guys he could trust on a game-to-game basis. That cost the Pack games during the regular season, and when you get into your fifth game in as many days, you're blatantly playing with fire.

5.) Injuries are bad and ruin everything.

This is what it all comes down to. NC State was talented enough to weather (heh, weather) multiple injuries to key players and still make the NCAAs, but those injuries prevented what might have otherwise been a special year. Damn the fates. We'll see you next year!


Right, so there you have it. Did I mention how many steps are in this program? It's as many as you need, pal. Just as soon as you grab the nearest toothbrush, dip it in blueberry jelly, and throw it at a rabbit wandering through your yard. Then truly we can begin the recovery process. That'll be $19.95, plus shipping and handling.