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CWS: NC State 8 UNC 1

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

UNC's only hope in this game was a vintage Kent Emanuel performance to shut NC State down or get a game where Carlos Rodon struggled. Neither of those things happen with the latter making what happened with the former largely irrelevant. NC State struck first then later chased Emanuel with four runs in the third on the way to handing the Heels an 8-1 loss in the opening game of the College World Series.

It was clear from the start that Emanuel's command simply wasn't there. While he did find the strike zone some and get two Ks in the first inning, he left too many pitches either outside the zone or in perfectly hittable position for the Wolfpack batters. NC State took full advantage starting with a Trea Turner walk and stolen base in the first. Tarran Senay's single drove in Turner for an early lead. That held firm until the third when the floodgates opened up. The Wolfpack got three singles and a double, all with two outs to add four runs to their lead. That ended the day for Emanuel who, in five NCAA Tournament appearances this season, has given up 19 earned runs. NC State would tack on a run in the seventh and two more in the ninth but it was all moot at that point.

Rodon was simply too dominant throwing a variety of pitches and hitting 97 mph on the ESPN radar gun at times. Despite an effort to stay patient at the plate, the burgeoning Wolfpack lead made it nearly impossible. Not that it mattered. Rodon was throwing strikes or pitches so nasty it made Tar Heel batters look foolish at times. Finally, in the bottom of the 9th the Heels got something cooking with Landon Lassiter driving in Chaz Frank to break-up the shutout. Rodon simply has UNC's number and while the Heels had managed to win three of the previous four times Rodon started, they did so with stellar pitching. That didn't happen today and as a result the Heels are in the loser's bracket.

Which isn't the end of the world but it makes it a much tougher road especially with the pitching being suspect. In fact, serious consideration is probably being given to Trent Thornton starting on Tuesday against the loser of the UCLA-LSU game. From there it is survive and advance.