N.C. State Baseball falls to Kentucky Wildcats in 10-Inning Heartbreaker in Game One for Wolfpack at College Baseball World Series

from www.gopack.com:
OMAHA, Neb. – The tenth-seeded NC State baseball team dropped a 10-inning heartbreaker to No. 2 national seed Kentucky 5-4 in its opening round matchup of the College World Series on Saturday afternoon at Charles Schwab Field.

Kentucky (46-14) hit solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth and 10th innings to erase a late one-run deficit in its first College World Series game in program history. Ryan Nicholson tied the score on the second pitch of the bottom of the ninth, smacking a solo shot down the left-field line to even it at 4-4. Mitchell Daly then delivered the walk-off homer with two outs in the bottom of the 10th for the 5-4 win.

NC State (38-22) took its first lead in the top of the ninth. First baseman Garrett Pennington opened the inning with a four-pitch walk and then advanced to third on Jacob Cozart’s single to right field. Kentucky then made a pitching change to bring in Johnny Hummel with runners at the corners and one out. Hummel spiked his first pitch, allowing Pennington to race home from third base for the go-ahead run.

Nicholson and Daly’s homers then flipped the Pack’s one-run advantage into a one-run defeat, handing the Wolfpack its first loss in a College World Series opener in four appearances. With the loss, NC State will face the loser of No. 4 national seed Texas A&M and Florida on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET.

Kentucky struck first when designated hitter Nick Lopez lined a first-pitch offering into center field for a 1-0 lead. Emilien Pitre opened the bottom of the first with a one-out double before advancing to third on a failed pickoff attempt. Lopez then drove in Pitre for the first run of the game before Wolfpack starter Sam Highfill stranded a pair of Wildcats with his third strikeout of the frame.

After both teams went scoreless in the second, Cozart knotted the score at 1-1 in the third with an RBI single through the right side. Pennington opened the third with a leadoff single to left field. Alec Makarewicz’s groundout to the right side then helped Pennington advance 90 feet to second base. Cozart then tied the score on the ninth pitch of his at bat, guiding a single through the infield after fouling off three straight pitches with two strikes.

Highfill posted back-to-back scoreless frames in the second and third. The right-hander allowed leadoff walks in both innings but responded with three straight outs each time, capping off the third inning by fielding a bunt from Daly and firing to first for the final out of the third.

Kentucky jumped ahead with a two-run homer from centerfielder Nolan McCarthy in the fourth. McCarthy’s two-run shot into the Wildcats’ bullpen gave UK a 3-1 advantage.

Pennington and Makarewicz opened the fifth with back-to-back singles to put the tying run on base. Makarewicz’s single to right field also set the new NC State single-season record for total bases, surpassing Tony Ellison’s previous record of 186 when the Pack third baseman’s first hit in Omaha marked his 187th total base of the season.

Kentucky starting pitcher Trey Pooser used a 3-6-3 double play to put two down in the fifth inning. Pooser then induced a groundout to second base to end the Wolfpack threat.

Highfill again posted back-to-back scoreless innings after McCarthy’s two-run homer in the fourth, facing the minimum in the fifth and sixth frames to send the game to the seventh. The Apex, North Carolina native used a 4-6-3 double play to end the sixth.

Makarewicz launched a two-out, two-run blast to right field to tie the score at 3-3 in the top of the seventh. Makarewicz’s game-tying homer came on a 1-2 pitch, which was the 100th of the day from Pooser for the Pack’s 100th home run of the season. It also moved the Wolfpack third baseman into sixth place alone in NC State single-season history with his 23rd home run of the year.

In his second College World Series start, Highfill turned in yet another gem, tossing seven innings while allowing just three runs and six hits. The right-hander struck out seven Wildcats and issued just two walks, facing the minimum in the final three innings on the mound.

Freshman right-hander Jacob Dudan escaped a jam in the eighth to keep the game knotted at 3-3. Pitre opened the bottom of the eighth with a walk before swiping second. Pitre then advanced to third on a balk before Dudan recorded a strikeout and a popout to first base to end the inning.

Wolfpack reliever Derrick Smith (3-2) suffered the loss after allowing Daly’s walk-off homer in the 10th.

Cozart led NC State with three hits, joining Pennington, Makarewicz and right fielder Noah Soles with multi-hit performances. Makarewicz led the Pack with a pair of RBI, moving him into second place alone in NC State single-season history with 82 RBI on the season.

UP NEXT
NC State will face the loser of No. 4 national seed Texas A&M and Florida in an elimination game on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET. Monday’s game will be televised on ESPN.