OMAHA, Neb. – Hobbs Johnson and Chris McCue dealt the third shutout of the week, and three Tar Heels powered the North Carolina offense to eliminate NC State 7-0 from the 2013 Men’s College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
The Wolfpack end their season at 50-16. North Carolina (59-11) survives to play UCLA on Friday at 7 p.m. The Heels will need to beat the Bruins twice to advance to the Championship Finals.
Johnson earned his fifth win of the season for Carolina, allowing just five hits while striking out six. He entered the ninth inning in a bid to pitch the fifth complete game of the 2013 CWS but left after one out with two NC State runners on base. His reliever, McCue, then put the game away on his third pitch. Bryan Adametz flew out to right field, and Skye Bolt threw to first for the double play.
The game was shaping up to be another low-scoring pitcher’s duel until North Carolina broke it open in the eighth. Leading 2-0, the Tar Heels loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch. After a pitching change, Michael Russell singled up the middle for a pair of RBI. The Wolfpack changed pitchers again, and Mike Zolk drove a base hit into the right field corner, allowing Bolt and Russell to score. Zolk tried to stretch his hit into a triple and was thrown out at third to end the rally.
Carlos Rodon (10-3), who started on three days of rest following his 8-1 complete-game victory against UNC on June 16, earned the loss. He went five innings for the Wolfpack, allowing two runs (one earned) off of four hits and striking out six. He leaves Omaha with a 1-1 record and a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings. His 14 strikeouts lead the CWS field.
Brad Stone relieved Rodon in the sixth and allowed three runs despite not giving up a hit. Ryan Wilkins, D.J. Thomas and Chris Overman finished up the game for NC State.
Carolina scored its first run in the fourth. Colin Moran led off with a single. Brian Holberton bunted, and Moran made it safely to second thanks to an error on the throw. Cody Stubbs walked to load the bases. Moran was thrown out at home on Bolt’s fielder’s choice that kept the bases loaded. After catching Russell’s sacrifice fly, Wolfpack right fielder Jake Fincher threw home, and Holberton beat the tag by a finger to score the run.
Russell led the Tar Heels with three RBI. Moran and Zolk added two more each. Moran had three singles on the night, bringing his CWS average to .500 (6-for-12).
NC State’s best chance to score came in the fourth inning. Grant Clyde and Adametz got on with a pair of singles, but Jake Armstrong struck out before they could do any damage.
North Carolina added its second run in the fifth. Parks Jordan was hit by the pitch and advanced to third via a sac bunt and a groundout to second. Moran drove him in with a single up the middle.
Jordan and Moran teamed up again in the ninth to tack on the seventh run of the night. Jordan singled, and Moran sent drove him in three batters later.
NC State was shutout for the first time in over a year (a span of 76 games). The Wolfpack lost to UNC 4-0 in twelve innings on May 6, 2012 in the ACC tournament.