NC State will be making the program’s third ever College World Series appearance starting this weekend. The first appearance was in 1968, and the second in 2013.
Comparing this 2021 squad to the 1968 team is a little difficult; not only due to the differences in play between teams over a half-century apart, but also because the NCAA Tournament format in 1968 featured just eight regionals, with the winners from each moving on to the College World Series. The expansion of the field to 64 teams and the adaption of the Super Regional completely changed the game.
That ‘68 team was damn good. They went 2-2 in Omaha, playing three one-run games and were eliminated in the semifinals, 2-0, by eventual champion Southern Cal, which was the Trojan’s first title in a run where they would win six national titles in seven years.
I digress. We’re here to compare the two best NC State teams of this century: The squads of 2013 and 2021. We’ll compare them in a few different facets - just for the fun of it.
2013: 50-16 (19-10, 2nd Atlantic)
2021: 35-18 (19-14, 2nd Atlantic)
Path to Omaha
2013: #1 seed in the Raleigh Regional where they took out #4 Binghamton and #3 William & Mary (twice). Hosted the Super Regional where they swept #13 national seed Rice in a pair of one-run games.
2021: #2 seed in the Ruston Regional where they took out #3 Alabama and #1 Louisiana Tech (twice). Traveled to Fayetteville, AR, for the Super Regional where they took two-of-three from #1 national seed Arkansas.
- Trea Turner - SS
- Jake Fincher - RF
- Brett Austin - C
- Tarran Senay - 1B
- Grant Clyde - 3B
- Brett Williams - CF
- Bryan Adametz - LF
- Jake Armstrong - DH
- Logan Ratledge - 2B
As a team slashed .277/.361/.381 with a 260:435 BB:K ratio in 66 games, averaging 6.1 runs/game. The team was aggressive on the bases (144 SBA), averaging over 2.0 stolen base attempts per game, with five players having double-digit stolen bases on the year. Of course, it helps to have Trea Turner and his
wheels everything. The 2013 team was also a classic Avent team that loved the small ball (52 sac bunts). This wasn’t a team that hit for a ton of power, but they found a way on base, with five players having 30+ BB on the year and Jake Armstrong tallying 21 HBP just by himself. The lineup was solid - heck, the 9-hole hitter made it all the way up to AAA ball.
- Austin Murr - 1B
- Tyler McDonough - CF
- Jonny Butler - LF
- Terrell Tatum - DH
- Jose Torres - SS
- Luca Tresh - C
- Devonte Brown - RF
- Vojtech Mensik - 3B
- JT Jarrett - 2B
As a team is slashing .289/.370/.501 with a 224:438 BB:K ratio in 53 games, averaging 7.0 runs/game. Not nearly as aggressive on the bases (89 SBA), although still with four players having double-digits stolen base totals. This team is also not nearly as likely to give away outs (25 sac bunts). Getting on base is not an issue; however, power is the name of the game here. Six Wolfpackers have tallied double-digit homers on the year. This lineup, too, is solid - even the 9-hole hitter is getting on base at a .344 clip.
2013: Three bench players had over 50 AB on the year, with Sam Morgan, Will Nance, and Matt Bergquist combining to start 64 games on the year.
2021: What is this “bench” you speak of?
2013: An overall .970 fielding percentage as a team, which is nothing shabby. If you discount Armstrong’s errors (he DH’d over the 2nd half of the year), the numbers get much better. Turner had 17 errors on the year, but just 1 over the team’s 11 postseason games. Brett Austin was the catcher, throwing out 19-of-70 (27.1%) of attempted base stealers and allowing 11 passed balls. The team turned an impressive 44 double plays.
2021: An overall .983 fielding percentage as a team is one of the tops in the country. Luca Tresh is the catcher, throwing out 10-of-41 (24.4%) of attempted base stealers and allowing 7 passed balls. The team has turned 24 double plays.
2013: Carlos Rodon gets all the glory (he’s damn good, you know), but the team also had Ethan Ogburn, Brad Stone, and Logan Jernigan. Those guys were all impressive in their own right, although outside of Rodon, they did not typically work deep into the game.
2021: The staff doesn’t have a Carlos Rodon, but the combination of Reid Johnston, Sam Highfill, and Matt Willadsen provides no weak link either. All three have the ability to go the distance in any given game,
2013: Outside of the four starting pitchers, State had five pitchers (Grant Sasser, Andrew Woeck, Josh Easley, Ryan Wilkins, Chris Overman) with 20+ appearances on the year, and another pair of arms (DJ Thomas, Anthony Tzamtzis) who threw over 28.0 IP on the year. Overman and Sasser combined for 14 saves. Ogburn and Stone also settled in as relievers after the Raleigh Regional. The team did not lack for bullpen depth.
2021: It’s Chris Villaman and Evan Justice. That’s the bullpen. Only four other Wolfpack relievers have tossed double-digit innings on the year, and not a single one of those four has even reached 15.0 IP on the year. Justice has 11 saves on the year, while Villaman has 2.
2013: Get on base, use speed and small ball to manufacture runs, and rely on your ace and deep bullpen to win games.
2021: Get on base, trot around via the long ball, and rely on your starters to go deep into the game and your closer to finish off the win.