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NC State homers its way past Alabama, 8-1

The Pack easily moves on in the winners’ bracket.

NCAA BASEBALL: JUN 02 Div 1 Championship Greenville Regional - East Carolina v North Carolina State Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NC State made life easy on itself against Alabama on Friday afternoon with a complete performance both at the plate and on the mound. The Wolfpack homered five times, scoring all eight of its runs against the Tide with the long ball.

It was Jose Torres’ three-run shot in the fifth that broke this one open for the Pack.

Luca Tresh and Devonte Brown got the scoring started with solo shots in the second, followed by a two-run blast by Tyler McDonough in the third inning. After Torres’ homer, Brown capped the scoring with another solo homer in the eighth.

That was more than enough offense for starting pitcher Reid Johnston, who limited the Tide to a run on four hits over eight strong innings of work. He struck out seven and walked three. Chris Villaman came in to close out Alabama in the ninth after Johnston walked the leadoff batter of the inning.

In the NCAA tournament you’ll see a lot of coaches wrestle with starting their best pitcher on Friday or saving him for a potential winners’ bracket game on Saturday. Elliott Avent has gone with that strategy before, but didn’t this time around; Alabama, however, did save its ace, and paid the price.

Instead of going with Dylan Smith (106K/20BB in 89-1/3 IP), the Tide started Tyler Ras, who has far less impressive stuff, and ended up allowing seven earned runs in 4-1/3 innings. NC State very much appreciated the decision.

NC State will await the winner of tonight’s game between host Louisiana Tech and Rider. The Pack’s next game will be Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.