No. 1 North Carolina managed to beat the vaunted Wolfpack ace Carlos Rodon Thursday night as they eliminated their in-state rival with a 7-0 victory.
I'm sure they would never admit it, but North Carolina likely drew a collective breath when it was announced just before game time that Rodon would be taking the mound against them. The ace was 2-0 against them this season and had just polished off a complete-game gem against the Tar Heels in Sunday's 8-1 N.C. State victory.
This time, though, it was UNC's Hobbs Johnson who had the dominant start. The junior left-hander cruised through 8⅓, allowing just five hits and holding the Wolfpack scoreless.
They didn't exactly knock Rodon around, but North Carolina did enough, scoring two runs and forcing him out of the game in the beginning of the sixth inning. The first run came in the fourth, when Brian Holberton was called safe ona play at the plate following a sac fly. N.C. State coach Elliot Avent took the field to argue, but the ump stood firm, and replays showed that Holberton did indeed just beat the tag.
The Tar Heels added on in the following inning when Golden Spikes finalist Colin Moran sent a two-out single up the middle to score Parks Jordan from second and make it 2-0. It was a strong game for Moran, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBI.
North Carolina then broke the game open with a four-run eighth inning. Brad Stone, who relieved Rodon in the sixth after he was originally scheduled to start, walked two batters and hit a third to load the bases with two outs before being pulled. Michael Russell then delivered a two-RBI single, and Mike Zolk added on in the next at-bat with a two-RBI double to make it 6-0.
The loss closes the book on N.C. State's first trip to Omaha since 1968. They finish the season 50-16, marking the first 50-win season in program history.
North Carolina now advances to face UCLA Friday night at 8 p.m. ET in the group finals. They will need to take two-straight games from the Bruins in order to advance to the national championship series.