NC State Falls in Vanderbilt, preparations for Saturday’s rematch
OMAHA, Neb. – On Friday afternoon, a resilient North Carolina state baseball team fell just short of No.4 seed Vanderbilt as the Commodores won the game by a score of 3-1 for force a showdown between the two College World Series teams on Saturday afternoon.
Aligning an exhausted roster against the reigning national champion, NC State (37-19) defeated Vanderbilt (48-16), 8-6, but could only score one run late in the fifth inning.
Beginner launcher Garret payne pitched five career innings in his very first start and seventh appearance. The true freshman allowed just two hits, one earned run and three walks after facing 23 batters in his workday. Payne showed great poise in his University World Series debut and didn’t allow any hits until the fourth batter of the third inning.
Sam highfill (3-for-4) and Brown Devonte (2-for-5) both scored multi-hit games for NC State, with Austin Murr, Jonny butler and Carson Falsken also ensuring one hit each.
As the release approaches, the bottom of the NC State range (Falsken, Highfill, Eddie Eisert, DeAngelo Giles) had combined for zero RBI, three hits and 27 batting this season through Friday. In the game, these four players accounted for half of the Pack’s hits and the only RBI.
Highfill scored the first hit of the outing, a first single on the straight pitch, in his first at bat of the 2021 season, but Vanderbilt came in first on the board early in the fourth inning. Dominic Keegan scored an unearned run after hitting base on an error and coming back to score on a two-out single, and CJ Rodriguez had another run on wild ground with bases loaded.
The Pack put the pressure in the bottom of the fifth with three hits and a point from the bottom of the order. Giles placed the Pack in the scoring column with a fly sack to left field, bringing home Falsken who reached third place with a bunt, another Highfill single and a floor to first.
In the sixth, the Commodores extended their lead to 3-1 with a single RBI from Javier Vaz, but NC State managed to come out of the set despite the bases loaded for Vandy.
NC state launcher Dalton Feeney forced Vandy to go three straight scoreless innings in the seventh, eighth and ninth after starting the game in the sixth. It was also the longest outing of the season for the Wolfpack redshirt-junior.
NC State and Vanderbilt will meet again on Saturday to decide the winner of the “Bracket One” and determine which team will advance to next week’s championship series. The first pitch is set for 2 p.m. ET and will air nationally on ESPN.