N.C. State Wolfpack Baseball falls 5-4 to the Florida Gators in College World Series Elimination Game

Wolfpack Falls 5-4 to Florida in MCWS
from www.gopack.com

OMAHA, Neb. – The NC State baseball team’s stellar 2024 season came to a close with a 5-4 defeat to Florida on Monday afternoon at Charles Schwab Field.

NC State (38-23) finished its 2024 season with its fourth trip to the Men’s College World Series. The Wolfpack has now finished its season in Omaha three times since 2013, all of which have come under the tutelage of head coach Elliott Avent.

The Wolfpack twice trimmed Florida’s early three-run lead to a single run, but the Gators (35-29) never let the Pack tie or retake the lead after Jac Caglianone’s two-out, three-run homer in the second inning. Florida scored four of its five runs in the top of the second, flipping an early 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead after Cade Kurland’s sacrifice fly and Caglianone’s three-run shot.

Alec Makarewicz answered Caglianone’s homer with a two-run shot in the third, trimming the Pack’s deficit to 4-3. Makarewicz’s homer was his 24th of the year, moving him into a tie for fourth place in program history for home runs in a single season.

Wolfpack redshirt senior pitcher Logan Whitaker shut down the Gators in the final pitching appearance of his career, tossing seven innings of relief after entering the game in the top of the third. Whitaker finished his six-year Wolfpack career with a legendary performance, setting a career-high with 10 strikeouts, allowing just two hits and one run over the final seven innings of the game. The right-hander tossed 104 pitches and faced the minimum in three of his seven innings on the mound.

Florida left fielder Tyler Shelnut stretched UF’s lead to 5-3 with a solo homer to left field in the fifth. The Wolfpack answered Shelnut’s solo shot with a run of its own in the bottom half when Garrett Pennington and Brandon Butterworth smacked a pair of doubles to make it 5-4. Pennington opened the bottom of the fifth with his 27th double of the season, tying him for second in Wolfpack single-season program history. Butterworth then drove a two-out double to opposite field, smacking an 0-1 pitch over right fielder Ashton Wilson to cut the Pack’s deficit to a single run.

Whitaker polished off another scoreless frame in the sixth, retiring the side in order thanks to a diving catch from right fielder Noah Soles. Soles recorded the final out of the top of the sixth with a leaping grab on the warning track.

Florida closer Brandon Neely retired the final nine batters to nail down his fifth save. Neely struck out six and allowed just one hit and one walk. The Wolfpack twice put the tying run in scoring position with opportunities in the seventh and eighth, but Neely used strikeouts in both frames to end the Pack’s scoring threats.

Butterworth and freshman Alex Sosa each logged two hits apiece, while Pennington paced the Pack with three runs scored. Pennington scored each time he reached on Monday afternoon, reaching twice via an HBP.

Makarewicz, who rewrote the Wolfpack record books in his sole season in Raleigh, finishes with the new NC State single-season record for total bases (195). He also finishes with the second-most RBI in a single season, driving in 84 runs in his final collegiate season. His 25 doubles also finish tied for fourth in NC State single-season history. The third baseman slugged homers in each of his final three games and five of his last six.

Left-handed starting pitcher Dominic Fritton (3-7) suffered the loss for NC State, allowing four runs over two innings. Florida’s Cade Fisher (4-3) earned the win after tossing four innings of relief of Caglianone.

The Wolfpack finished with a 10-5 record over its final 15 games, dropping back-to-back contests for the first time since April 20 and April 23. NC State notched six wins over top-10 opponents in its final 15 games of the season.