CWS Primer: North Carolina State
Omaha History: 2 CWS appearances
Overview: The Wolfpack earned their way to their second ever College World Series after putting together a very solid fourth place finish in the ACC. However, their overall finish in conference was misleading. North Carolina State has a team built for the post season. The Wolfpack know how to pitch and move base runners. N.C. State ranks in the top thirty in the country in ERA, and they are third in the country in strikeouts per nine innings. On offense they rely on timely hitting and wreaking havoc on the base paths. Their lineup doesn’t connect for a ton of homeruns, but their strong gap power should play well at TD Ameritrade. They finished 14th in the country with 125 doubles this season. And once they reach base they don’t stay there very long. The speedy Wolfpack stole 107 bases this season. But perhaps one of their strongest features is their ability in the clutch. N.C. State was 47-2 this year when they were either tied or leading after seven innings.
Road To Omaha: The Wolfpack sailed through regionals without losing a game. They showed off their strong pitching staff by only allowing 3 runs total. In the Super Regionals they swept Rice, but it was anything but easy. N.C. State showed off their late-game abilities by twice erasing multiple-run deficits in the ninth inning to win games. The second game went 17 innings before the Wolfpack could finally punch their ticket to Omaha.
Players to Watch:
Carlos Rodon - The sophomore pitcher is considered to be the prize of next year’s draft. He’s a left hander with a powerful, live arm. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and he can crank it into the upper 90s. He also throws a devastating slider that can reach the low 90s. He led the country in strikeouts with 170. The next closest person struck out 23 less batters. He’s also a workhorse racking up 118 innings while maintaining a ridiculous 12.93 strikeouts per nine innings rate. Rodon alone is worth the price of admission.
Trea Turner - The Wolfpack might not be known for their offense, but Turner’s swung a big stick for them this season. He hit .378 this year while smacking seven homeruns. Turner also drove in 41 runs. He’s one of the few hitters in the game that can either set the table or clear it off depending on the situation.
Take the title if…: If vintage Rodon shows up in all of his outings and their gap power soars in TD Ameritrade this could be the ever-elusive first title for the Wolfpack. Their combination of power arms and “move the base runners” strategy could pay big dividends this year’s tournament.
A Quick Trip if…: If Rodon can’t out pitch his opponent, and the offense sputters like its done plenty of times this season then the Wolfpack could easily find themselves done after just two games.
Why Should Omaha Cheer For Them?: If the section on Carlos Rodon is not enough for you to throw your full support behind the Wolfpack then maybe you should take a look at the Rondon Facts twitter feed. Or you could just type “Carlos Rodon” into YouTube and watch him make batters look silly for the next few days as you slowly decide to do watch right and hop on the Rodon train. And there are only one-way tickets to Strikeout City available on this train.