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NC State Baseball

MCLAMB: Pack Has Prepared Itself For This Moment

June 11, 2021

The regional series in Ruston, Louisiana crossed off one important question that had yet to be posed to the 2021 NC State baseball team. How would the Wolfpack fare in an intense environment where fans had come to see them lose? 

The ACC Baseball Championship was great. Having folks in the park and making themselves heard was wonderful to experience again, but the people that attended those three NC State games were there to lend the Wolfpack their support. 

Beating Louisiana Tech twice in Ruston and, to a lesser extent, winning the regional opener against Alabama was decidedly different. NC State swept four road series in ACC play this season. It is not a stretch to suggest the Ruston Regional was the Wolfpack's fifth road sweep. Even the game with Alabama, with lesser fan support, was more a road contest as Tuscaloosa is much closer to Louisiana than Raleigh is. Yet, the Pack got it done expeditiously. 

Arkansas is a different beast. Ranked No. 1 in the nation, the Razorbacks showed serious resolve in the regional when they returned from a home loss to Nebraska to claim Monday's final contest on a pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning. All the talent in the world will only get a team so far. To be a national title contender, there must be some character as well. 

Character is an attribute that the Wolfpack seems to have an abundance of. NC State rebounded from the putrid 1-8 start in ACC play to finish 19-14 in the conference. The Pack responded to its deflating loss to Duke in the final of the ACC Baseball Championship to smash the baseball all over the place en route to a three-game sweep in Ruston which sent the program to the Super Regionals for the first time in eight years. 

It is clear that Arkansas is a stern test, but the path NC State took to get to Fayetteville (not that one) to face the Razorbacks has done as good of a job preparing them as they could possibly hope for. 

Playing strong teams? The Pack is in the ACC and probably would have hosted the regional in a normal season.

Winning road games? NC State is probably the best road team in the nation. 

Dealing with setbacks or adversity? The Wolfpack shrugs off things that break other teams.

NC State will fly to Arkansas knowing full well what is at stake and the daunting task it must complete to extend its season.

But should the Pack lack confidence? That answer is no. NC State earned its right to be one of the remaining 16 teams and emphatically stated its case that it is a force to be reckoned with. The hitting has been sensational, the frontline starter (Reid Johnston) is terrific and ultracompetitive, the backend starters (both freshmen) are not just servicable but also give their team a great chance to win, and the relief pitching of Evan Justice gives NC State a comfort level when the game is late.

The Super Regional in Arkansas will be the biggest set of baseball games for NC State in eight seasons, but there is literally no reason for the Wolfpack to be afraid – nor should they enter thinking they are inferior. It will not be easy, as the Razorbacks are top-notch, but if being a champion was easy everyone would do it. 

This is NC State's chance. To paraphase a figure of speech from another sport, the Wolfpack might as well go to Arkansas and shoot their shot. 

Tags: Baseball
Discussion from...

MCLAMB: Pack Has Prepared Itself For This Moment

873 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 10 days ago by hink2
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Good read Rob!

Agree, this team has overcome adversity and battled back all season. Road warriors. This is gonna be a different animal. We HAVE to strike early and keep the crowd out of it as much as possible.

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I'm not much of a baseball guy, but I always love Rob's stuff!
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