NC State did Saturday what it does often, which is methodically take apart opposing pitching, in this case running the burn deep into a theoretically close game and turning it into a bit of a laugher. NC State advanced past Louisiana Tech, 8-3, to put itself in the regional championship game on Sunday night.
To alleviate quickly any big-game jitters, Austin Murr led off the game with a double, and after Tyler McDonough flew out, Jonny Butler drove him home with a double of his own. NC State had a lead that it would not surrender.
Sam Highfill was outstanding on the bump, stepping up to the moment to relieve all pressure from the lineup. Highfill’s good pitching was necessary, because State didn’t take full advantage of its scoring opportunities over the first six innings, staking him only a modest 3-0 lead.
Highfill worked out of jams in several innings, allowing the lineup to relax until it finally put up a crooked number in the seventh—the Pack scored five runs across the seventh and eighth to push this game into garbage time, and allow Evan Justice the room for error that it turned out he needed.
Justice allowed a pair of home runs in the bottom of the eighth, which is where the Bulldogs notched their three runs. Justice shut down the matter pretty quickly in the ninth, though.
NC State now will await the winner of the Sunday afternoon elimination game between Louisiana Tech and Alabama.