RALEIGH — N.C. State looked the part of a top seed in an NCAA baseball regional Friday.
And Sacred Heart looked like a team that had a 25-30 record.
The Wolfpack rolled to a 16-5 victory in its first game of the Raleigh Regional at Doak Field, swinging the bats, being aggressive on the bases and getting effective starting pitching from senior righthander Vance Williams.
"I'm really proud of the way our guys played," NCSU coach Elliott Avent said. "No errors tonight. Played sound defense. I thought Vance had very good stuff ... and made pitches when he had to.
"It's a good opening game to start. This team, they have fun. They don't panic. They think they're really good."
The Pack (40-17) will face second-seeded Vanderbilt today at 7 p.m. in the winner's bracket game and will send All-America lefthander Carlos Rodon to the mound. The Commodores (34-26) will counter with junior southpaw Sam Selman.
Sacred Heart plays UNC-Wilmington in a 2 p.m. elimination game. The Seahawks, seeded third, were beaten 8-2 by Vandy in their NCAA opener.
Designated hitter Ryan Mathews, who had three of the Pack's 14 hits, ripped a three-run homer in the first and finished with four RBIs. Freshman Brett Austin drove in three runs, just missing on a pair of homers, and Andrew Ciencin had three hits.
"It's a team we haven't seen the likes of this year," Pioneers coach Nick Giaquinto said. "Defensively they made all the plays. Offensively they've got a lot of weapons. They play small-ball well, they drive the ball, they put the bat on the ball. They're just a complete ball club."
The 16 runs were the most scored by the Pack in an NCAA game since a 16-3 win over The Citadel in 1975, but there was early uneasiness among Pack fans as Williams labored and the Pioneers scored twice in the first.
Williams, making his third start of the season, walked leadoff batter Keaton Flint, then hit Dave Boisture with a pitch. Third baseman Hunter Phillips delivered a two-out, two-run double to right.
"I think it was in (Williams') head a little bit," Phillips said. "He was a little shaky."
But the Pack, whose bats were silent most of the ACC Baseball Championship, quickly countered against Sacred Heart starter Troy Scribner.
Leadoff batter Trea Turner doubled to left, Chris Diaz singled and Mathews delivered the bomb to deep left for his 15th homer of the season and a 3-2 lead. It was Mathews' seventh homer in the past 11 games.
"It was good for us to be able respond and answer back," Mathews said. "It was big for us, especially early on in the game to not let them get any momentum at all."
The Pack added another run in the first for a 4-2 cushion, and the heart rate lowered for Williams, who played at Raleigh's Athens Drive High. Williams (4-3) matched his career high with eight strikeouts and walked one in six innings against the Northeast Conference champions.
"I was extremely excited," Williams said. "I had grown up a State fan my entire life and this is something you dream about -- being on the big stage, first game of the regional.
"I tried to slow the game down. Luckily I was able to work through the early trouble."
The Wolfpack used two bunt singles and four stolen bases to score twice in the third, put another three runs on the board in the fourth and then scored seven in the sixth.
Avent talked earlier in the week of starting junior righthander Ethan Ogburn, but the decision to go with Williams was a calculated gamble the Pack won. Avent now will turn to Rodon, the ACC freshman and pitcher of the year.
Rodon, who has been overpowering this season, will take a 9-0 record and 1.46 earned-run average into the game. Vandy's Selman is 9-3 with a 3.33 ERA.