Our take: CWS success starts on the mound
Posted June 16, 2013
Updated June 17, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The Wolfpack advanced to the winner's bracket Sunday in the College World Series with a resounding 8-1 win over Triangle rival University of North Carolina.
The WRALSportsFan gang shared these impressions of both teams' performances and what each has to do to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament.
What worked for NC State was Carlos Rodon and two-out hitting. The lefty from Holly Springs had a solid outing according to his dad, Carlos. UNC coach Mike Fox gave a stronger opinion saying few pitchers can throw such effective sliders, on any count at such a young age. Rodon dealt a complete-game with eight strikeouts and a run in the 9th.
The Wolfpack got to Tar Heel starter Kent Emanuel early. The ACC pitcher of the year lasted just 2.2 innings surrendering five runs. In the NCAA postseason, Emanuel has given up 19 runs. Mike Fox said a lack of command makes Emanuel more hitable.
NC State scored six of their eight runs with two outs. Brett Williams said they never surrender at the plate even when it's two outs.
Carlos Rodon looked nearly unstoppable for the Pack once again. He's been able to pitch nine nnings consistently for NC State for the last few weeks. The fact that Elliott Avent didn't have to go to his bullpen at all was huge. He has completely fresh arms for Tuesday's game with UCLA. That is a big plus with this format.
As for UNC, it really seems Kent Emanuel is worn down. Mile Fox does not want to admit this, but putting his ace out in relief during the regionals may have really hurt this team's chances of making noise in Omaha.
In order to win the College World Series, you need a solid ace. NC State has one. UNC needs to find one.
The Wolfpack’s ace continues one of the best two month stretches in program history. In his last nine starts, Carlos has given up just 16 earned runs in 76 innings of work, for an ERA of a shade over 2. In that span, he’s caught 93 batters whiffing (32 of those coming in the three starts against UNC).
Now, the question is posed, can NC State’s supporting cast get the job done on the hill to force a championship game scenario? They’ve held up their end of the bargain thus far in the Pack’s perfect postseason. Logan Jernigan and Brad Stone haven’t been asked to go as deep, but in their two combined NCAA Tournament outings, they’ve gone 10.1 innings while only surrendering a single run. The pen’s been equally as strong, as Chris Overman, Josh Easley, Grant Sasser, and Ryan Wilkins have pulled off the by-committee approach quite effectively. Ethan Ogburn more than pulled his weight in relief last Sunday against Rice too.
As for the Heels, those who weren’t pleased with Mike Fox’s handling of Kent Emanuel in the Regionals were handed more ammunition for their argument. Unless the third round draft pick is dealing with a lingering injury that we’re not aware of, then I’m not sure if the fatigue carry-over from two weeks ago holds water, moreso than Emanuel just didn’t throw his best stuff.
Good news, bad news for Carolina. The good? The Tar Heels have yet to drop back-to-back games at any point this year. The bad? For that streak to continue, they’ve got to turn “Geaux-Maha” into “Geaux-Home” in a whodathunkit elimination game against LSU. Both squads were ranked #1 during the year, and it’s hard to believe that one of the favorites to win the whole shebang will be bounced from Nebraska by Tuesday night. Heck, if Louisville works its magic again, we’ll be down to only one national seed before day five of the CWS.
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NC State has a chance to win every game that Carlos Rodon pitches because he is filthy. For those who don't know baseball parlance, filthy is good.
For Pack skipper Elliott Avent, cloning Rodon would be the best thing he could do ... but that isn't happening, and there is not one thing that State should change from Sunday during the rest of their stay in Omaha.
For Carolina, forget about losing to State. Easy to say; hard to do. The good thing is they aren't facing Rodon again Tuesday.
The Heels need to be more aggressive at the plate with first-pitch strikes. At the College World Series, if you let a good pitcher get ahead in the count, the chances of success at the plate decrease dramatically.
Get a couple of hits early, and remember that the Tar Heels are the top seed.
NC State's victory over North Carolina in one word: Pitching.
Let's get the obvious stuff about Carlos Rodon first. The Wolfpack starter threw a complete game, striking out eight Tar Heels and giving up only five hits after his no-hitter was broken up in the fifth inning.
It was a continuation of what Rodon did to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament semifinals at Durham Bulls Athletic Park back in May. Except this time he had NC State's offense to back up the performance - and no costly errors late in the game. The Wolfpack used seven different batters to drive in runs.
Since Rodon has made a habit of dishing out his best stuff against the Tar Heels, it would be easy to chalk up as a rivalry win. Except NC State is the hottest team in the College World Series right now, winning 32 of their last 36 games. With that level of confidence, they might just ride it to the finals.
For the Tar Heels, they've faced this type of situation against Florida Atlantic and South Carolina. Each time they've dug themselves out of the hole and fought their way to Omaha. Do they have another rally in them? The bullpen needs to settle down if it's going to happen.
Maybe Carolina's Chaz Frank would do it differently if he was offered a mulligan. With the Tar Heels already trailing 1-0 and batting in the bottom of the first inning against NC State's ace Carlos Rodon, Frank, the Tar Heels' fiery leadoff batter drew a rare walk. As ball four crossed the plate, Frank tossed the bat aside and screamed words of encouragement towards his teammates, but the intent became irrelevant.
Rodon was not amused.
As Frank sprinted down to first, the first pick in next summer's Major League Baseball draft glared at him. Then Rodon took the ball, climbed back up on the mound and proceeded to dominate. Rodon set down the next 14 Tar Heels in a row, striking out six of them, and even Brian Holberton's 2-out, 5th inning single was only a momentary reprieve.
Rodon sat down the side easily in the 6th, escaped 2-on, 1-out trouble in the 7th when he got Carolina's Michael Russell to ground into a double play and did the same in the 8th after a leadoff single.
Meanwhile, NC State, who wasted Rodon's 10-inning gem at the ACC tournament in Durham three weeks ago because they couldn't get any key base hits, was piling them up against Carolina ace Kent Emanuel. With a man on and two outs in the 3rd, the Pack laced three straight run-scoring hits, the last of which -- a sharp single to center by Bryan Adametz -- chased the Tar Heels' lefty and led to a 5-0 Wolfpack lead.
No matter how good Carolina's line up is, they weren't touching Rodon for five runs, not in Omaha. Maybe, Frank's outburst had nothing to do with anything, but Rodon's reaction to Frank absolutely guaranteed a focused and intense response from State's ace.
Good pitching and timely hitting will win most every baseball game – especially big-stage baseball games. On Sunday, NC State got both. North Carolina got neither.
Carlos Rodon was nothing short of spectacular for NC State, throwing a five-hit, complete-game while striking out eight. He was also able to pitch freely because his offense provided a comfortable lead early.
The Wolfpack were 5-for-8 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch and five runs scored in two-out situations in the first three innings of the game. They chased UNC starter Kent Emanuel before the third-round pick of the Houston Astros could even finish the third inning.
NC State also didn’t take anything for granted in their first College World Series game in 45 years. They added three runs in the final two innings, and, despite having the game well in hand, opted to keep Rodon in to close things out. He hit 97 on the gun in the 9th inning.
Meanwhile UNC sent just three men to the plate in six of the nine innings and had just one two-out hit.
Simple addition: Good pitching + 2-out hits = win.