Wolfpack Baseball’s 2013 season came to an inauspicious end last night when the Pack fell for the second straight game in Omaha, this time to a familiar foe.Â Carolina breaks a close game open with four runs in 8th inning and ends up shutting the Pack out 7-0.Â Incidentally, it was the first time this season that the Pack was blanked on the scoreboard.
State finishes the season with a 50-16 record, finishing with 50 wins for the first time in program history.
The Heels move on and will now have to top UCLA twice (Friday and Saturday) to move on to the national championship series.
In the other bracket, it’s Oregon State faced with the task of winning two straight vs Mississippi State.
For anyone who cares, Oregon State/Miss. State is at 3pm today, and Carolina/UCLA is the 8pm nightcap, both on ESPN.Â Both of Saturday’s games are an “if necessary” of course.
I suppose it’s likely, though unfortunate, that most folks will remember this season as one of disappointments (if they remember it at all after a few weeks).Â And while I understand that this academic year was fraught with disappointment when it comes to NC State Athletics (expectations not met in football or basketball) and thus it’s very easy to feel that way, this Wolfpack Baseball team not only didn’t underachieve, but made great strides for the program which very well could pay dividends on the recruiting trail.
Most of all, this team doesn’t deserve to be thought of as a disappointment.
The argument of course will be “No Banners”.Â Well, that and the fact that it was Carolina that halted the Pack’s path to two of those banners.
The Pack fell a half game short of the ACC’s Atlantic Division pennant to FSU.Â They then fell in 18 innings to Carolina in the nail biter in Durham to end hopes for the ACC Championship.
And then last night, with their backs to the wall, it was Carolina again to end the Pack’s season and their hopes of a CWS title.
So yeah, I get the disappointment, trust me.Â I hate losing and I especially hate losing to them.Â Losing to them in a meaningful game (such as the last two losses to them have been) really bugs the living chit out of me quite frankly, and no I’m not yet over that disappointment and it’ll take a while.
But none of that should take away from what the Pack9 did accomplish this season.
First ever 50 win season.
19 regular season conference wins ties program best.
First CWS berth since ’68.
Top ten finish.
This team achieved pretty much exactly what was expected of them, and that’s despite an early season slide when Trea Turner went down with injury.Â That’s despite a starting pitching rotation that was piecemeal for much of the year.Â That’s despite sporting a record of 16-9 (3-6 ACC) on March 24th after getting swept by UVa in Charlottesville without Turner.
In the meat grinder that is the ACC, then in the ACC Tournament (which might as well be called Omaha east), and then including the NCAA Tournament and CWS, this Wolfpack squad lost a whopping total of 7 games over the last three months of the season, finishing the season going 34-7.
Especially considering the competition levels faced over that stretch, I’d say that’s not half bad.
Looking forward, State will still have the nucleus of a pretty good club together for 2014.Â Rodon and Turner are back of course.Â As are Jake Fincher, Brett Austin, Jake Armstrong and Logan Ratledge to name but a few.
As is always the case in college athletics however, the Pack will have to fill some holes.Â Gone will be Tarran Senay, Brett Williams, Bryan Adametz, Grant Clyde and Matt Bergquist.
Perhaps the biggest losses will come to the pitching staff.Â Starter Ethan Ogburn is a senior of course, but it’s the Pack’s bullpen that will take the biggest hit.Â Gone will be Chris Overman, Josh Easley, Ryan Wilkins, Grant Sasser and Danny Healey.
Some younger arms will need to step up to be sure.
Curtain Closes on Pack’s First CWS Run Since 1968 (GoPack.com)
No regrets for eliminated Wolfpack (NCAA.com)
The decision to start Rodon did not surprise UNC.
â€œItâ€™s hard when youâ€™re in elimination game to not put [Rodon] out there,â€ North Carolina head coach Mike Fox said. â€œI get the rest and all that, 108 pitches [on Sunday], strong as a bull. I know it was a tough decision for [Avent] and his staff. You donâ€™t want any regrets leaving here and I think they probably would have had some if they hadnâ€™t pitched him.â€
Rodon seemingly had the Tar Heelsâ€™ number, so on three daysâ€™ rest he again was called on to face North Carolina with the season on the line in Game 10. For UNC, the mentality was â€œit is what it is.â€ Thursday was a different day and the Tar Heels had a different outcome in mind.
Nonetheless, Rodon cruised through the first three innings, striking out six and continuing to thwart North Carolina by stranding runners in scoring position in the first and third frames.
Then came the fateful fourth inning, which was jumpstarted by UNCâ€™s Colin Moran, who stroked an 0-1 pitch for a single to center field. Holbertonâ€™s sacrifice bunt was fielded by Rodon, who wheeled to try to nab Moran at second base â€” maybe even start a double play â€” but the throw skipped past the bag and both runners were safe. Rodon then walked Cody Stubbs.
â€œThose things happen,â€ Rodon said. â€œJust a bunt â€” pretty easy double play. That happens to any baseball player.â€
CWS: UNC Tar Heels send N.C. State Wolfpack packing, 7-0 (CharlotteObserver.com)
PHOTOS: UNC 7, N.C. State 0 | 06.20.13Â (CharlotteObserver.com)
So that pretty much closes the book on the 2013 edition of Wolfpack Baseball.Â A very good season IMHO despite the disappointments it also brought.
But that’s baseball.Â And as always….
(I really dislike UCLA thus it is very difficult to say that.Â That alone should tell you something Caulton)