RALEIGH — Just before the N.C. State baseball team came out to speak with the media Tuesday afternoon at Doak Field, the team watched in the locker room as North Carolina clinched its sixth trip to the College World Series in the past eight years with a 5-4 win against South Carolina.
Chris Overman and Grant Sasser, two of the most important arms out of the Wolfpacks bullpen, ran out of the dugout chasing and fake punching each other, keeping the atmosphere loose. Meanwhile, Brett Williams was celebrating the fact the Wolfpack has another shot at the Tar Heels.
When asked whether he was intently or casually watching the game, Williams replied, Every second of it.
The redshirt senior outfielder has seen the Pack go 8-8 over the past five years against their rival, but plans on changing the 0-2 mark in the postseason with the Heels denying them of the ACC championship game each of the past two seasons when they play Sunday at 3 p.m. in Omaha.
I was praying that they were going to pull it out, he said with a laugh. They hurt us bad in the ACC tournament. That killed us so were really excited to see them in the first (game).
Both teams come in as the lone members of the ACC to make it to Omaha and did so with late-inning dramatics. For the Heels, it took a ninth inning rally in the first game and a sloppy game that went in their favor in the final contest to advance.
The Pack won both of their games in the super regionals against Rice with come-from-behind victories one in the ninth inning and an epic 17-inning game that ended with their first dogpile before a trip to Omaha since 1968.
Coach Elliott Avent said he has put Sunday nights win behind him, but his players havent quite done the same. When asked about whether he has come down from the high of heading to Omaha, first baseman Tarran Senay said, I dont think we have. When we get there, maybe. Its a great feeling.
During his time at State, sophomore starter Carlos Rodon has been lights out against Carolina in the postseason, not allowing an earned run through 19 innings pitched and striking out 26 batters.
As for the potential of starting Sunday at TD Ameritrade Park against UNC, Rodon said he hopes to be on the mound.
Anybody whos out there is going to give it their all. If its me, even better, he said. I cant wait to get out there. It should be a good one.
Rodon then addressed one camera directly and emphatically said, Hope you guys are watching.
Following the 2-1 win in 18 innings that sent the Heels to the conference championship game, Carolina coach Mike Fox went through the line and shook hands with Williams, giving him a prediction for what would follow for the two teams.
When we shook hands, coach Fox told me, Well see you in the Midwest, Williams said. Thats what it is now. Were going to see them there.