NC State is heading to the Super Regional round for the first time since 2013. The Wolfpack’s relentless offense was the story in the clincher against Louisiana Tech, as State piled up 19 hits on the way to scoring 14 runs.
The run of offense in the middle portion of the game was so impressive, you could almost forget that NC State found itself in an early 4-0 hole. The Bulldogs hit a pair of two-run homers in the first three innings, but then State’s offense got in gear.
The margin was 5-3 in Louisiana Tech’s favor heading into the bottom of the fifth, which is where NC State asserted full control of the game. Jonny Butler plated the tying runs with a single, then Terrell Tatum singled and Jose Torres walked to load the bases. That set the stage for Devonte Brown’s decisive swing.
B5 | DEVONTE BROWN GRAND SLAM TO PUT US OUT FRONT!— #Pack9 ⚾️ (@NCStateBaseball) June 7, 2021
NCSU 9, LA TECH 5 pic.twitter.com/Ka5VfKLsQm
Tech took advantage of that porch in right to build its lead, but a friendly hitting environment goes both ways, as Brown reminded us so emphatically. Those would prove the game-winning runs, but NC State did not relent, scoring four more in the bottom of the sixth after once again loading the bases with no outs.
State took a 13-5 lead into the seventh, an advisable level of padding against an opponent that also can score runs in bunches. But the Bulldogs were just too far behind, and NC State had the clear advantage on the mound—Chris Villaman gave up a two-run dinger in the seventh but was otherwise just what the doctor ordered, striking out five over the final three innings, while walking none.
Every hitter in the NC State lineup had at least one hit and the Pack went 19-41 (.463) at the dish as a team. Yeah, that’ll play.
The Pack’s offense pushed across at least eight runs in all three of its games this weekend, and that’s how you turn a regional into a relatively routine affair. Reid Johnston and Sam Highfill gave State a couple of excellent starts, and tonight the offense more than picked up Matt Willadsen, who wasn’t at his best but still managed to pitch six innings—there’s something to say for that effort, too.
So NC State can celebrate tonight and relax on the trip home as it awaits the winner of the Fayetteville Regional, which will either be Nebraska or host Arkansas. (Arkansas, most likely.) The Super Regional round is a simple best-of-three series, and while playing No. 1 overall seed in Arkansas would be tough, Elliott Avent’s guys have been road warriors all year.
But we’ll worry about that later in the week. For now, it’s party time.