It was a battle set between two schools less than thirteen miles apart: North Carolina State Wolfpack vs the North Carolina Tar Heels.
NC State was set to have their ace on the mound, Carlos Rodon, who only had three days rest. However, his start was not nearly impressive as his last one, only going five innings, allowing four hits, two runs (one earned) and six strikeouts. It was actually the Tar Heel’s pitcher Hobbs Johnson who stole the show.
North Carolina’s key to victory was the fact they were able to capitalize on Rodon. It only took until the top of the fourth to jump on top of the Wolfpack. The bases were loaded thanks to a single, fielder’s choice turned to an error on the pitcher, and a walk. Michael Russell hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring one run. Rodon was lucky to only give up one run. North Carolina leads 1-0.
But at the top of the fifth the Tar Heels showed weren’t done scoring yet. Parks Jordan was hit by a pitch, and after a sacrifice to the pitcher and ground ball, Jordan found himself on third. Colin Moran singled to center, scoring Jordan from third. Tar Heels have a 2-0 lead.
The Wolfpack bats just could not get anything going against Tar Heels pitcher Hobbs Johnson. Johnson went 8.1 innings, allowed five hits and recorded six strikeouts.
The top of the eighth was completed dominated by the North Carolina bats. Moran and Cody Stubbs walked, putting runners on first and third with two outs. Skye Bolt was then hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Russell singled to center, scoring Moran and Stubbs. 4-0 lead. Mike Zolk then doubled to right, scoring Bolt and Russell. North Carolina leads 6-0.
But at the top of the ninth, North Carolina wasn’t done. Moran singled to left center scoring Jordan who reached on a single to center. 7-0 game, headed to the bottom of the ninth with Hobbs Johnson on the mound.
Johnson came on in the ninth and while he did not get the complete game, he got the win. Chris McCue came on in relief in a two on, one out situation. McCue gets out of the inning thanks to a double play, Tar Heels win 7-0.
The Wolfpack just wasn’t able to get their bats going, and because of that they were sent home. North Carolina’s Hobbs Johnson was not only spectacular in his start, but was able to rest their bullpen. The bullpen will be crucial as the Wolfpack move forward in Omaha.